Pan, a Peter Pan prequel based on J.M. Barrie’s stories about his original creation, is now on Blu-ray (also DVD and Digital HD) via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. It’s rarin’ to tap into a whole new audience, because the $150 million film was D.O.A. in movie houses this past fall. Thirteen-year-old Levi Miller is a real find, playing the titular character with savvy and grace. Hugh Jackman provides the star power as renegade pirate Blackbeard, who enslaves Pan in order to keep his fairy dust mining business strong (the dust is a drug that doubles as a fountain of youth). Every bit of nuance young Miller invests in Pan, Jackman seems to have matched in terms of indulgent overacting. He’s a great actor and he’s trying oh-so-hard, but this is not his best work.
The interesting thing about Pan is that it is actually a little too experimental (musical numbers involve rock songs original by the lives of The Ramones and Nirvana) to have had a real chance at mass appeal. This is far from the Disney-produced fairy tale adaptations Malificent and Cinderella; safe, family-friendly retellings of their popular animated films. While those films had their merits (especially the charming latter), Pan strikes out to find far more original turf. Pan befriends both Captain Hook (Garrett Hedlund), who is not the boy’s nemesis at this point, and Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara, cast amidst cries of foul since this character is usually Native American). It’s all dark and somewhat depressing, but it’s nothing if not ambitious.
Perhaps because it was such a disappointment at the box office, Pan isn’t outfitted with many home video supplements. There’s a director’s commentary track courtesy of Joe Wright that seems to focus primarily on technical aspects of the film. It would’ve been interesting to get his perspective on the negative reaction that greeted the film and the box office indifference that resulted in it flopping.
There are a few featurettes, but they don’t really amount to much. “Never Grow Up: The Legend of Pan” traces Pan’s roots back to J.M. Barrie’s original work. “The Boy Who Would Be Pan” profiles star Levi Miller, “The Scoundrels of Neverland” spotlights the villains, and “Wondrous Realms” is a short F/X featurette.
Thankfully those expensive CG effects are presented in near-perfect high definition quality on Warner Bros. Blu-ray edition. Great care was invested in the look of Pan and the transfer reflects that. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack defaults to Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for those not Atmos-ready (like me) and it offers a delirious degree of immersive, directional sound effects. It’s too bad this film bombed so badly, because it will almost certainly fail to be considered for technical Oscars, even though it seems to be well qualified for them in the sound department at least.
The Pan Blu-ray Combo Pack includes a standard DVD and a Digital HD copy. It’s a bit off-kilter to be sure and ultimately comes off as an inconsequential, but Pan functions as a daring addition to the many Peter Pan-related adaptations.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B016LEI6FY]