This is a weird weekend. You just had the blockbuster The Martian open last week. Next week brings us three high profile films. And it’s also Columbus Day weekend, which isn’t a big deal everywhere but is huge in the Northeast. So we end up with only two real wide releases and one is The Walk, expanding from its IMAX bow of a week ago. The other is a film which, from all indications, chose as its title a bit of advice for any critic who might be reviewing it.
Pan is another “reimagining” of the Peter Pan story. Only rather than going forward with a grown-up Peter like Steve Spielberg did with Hook, this one goes backward, with an even younger Peter and how he got to Neverland in the first place. Which apparently involves surviving the glare of Hugh Jackman acting for the back row of the theater. Jackman is playing the dread pirate … Blackbeard, because I guess they realized they needed a Captain Hook but already had him tied up as a younger version as well. So what we’re left with here is a story that promises us all these characters become interesting eventually, just not in this particular film. Going the prequel route can work, provided you have an interesting story to tell, or an interesting deconstruction of the existing property. But if, as Pan appears to be, all you have going on is table-setting for stories people like a whole lot better, well, all you’re doing is denying people the very thing you’re reminding them of. That doesn’t exactly translate to successful storytelling.
And it looks like it hasn’t, because this has gotten some scathing reviews so far. Things along the lines of, “It’s so bad, you have to see it just to acknowledge something this bad exists.” Which might draw some curious viewers, and parents might still take their kids to see it. But in all honestly, The Martian is probably going to take this weekend. It’s got great reviews and great word of mouth, so everybody who didn’t go last weekend will likely check it out and keep it in the top spot. Besides, I get the feeling we’ll have the chance to see Pan on the big screen in a few years when RiffTrax gets a hold of it.