The Netflix Top 10 most-watched list is usually filled with some of the best movies the streaming service has to offer, but it’s not uncommon for a film to slip through that isn’t quite as well-regarded, and that’s happened again this week.
However, in this case, while the movie in question may have received a critical mauling, it’s actually so bizarrely bad that it’s sort of enjoyable. Pan, the 2015 Peter Pan prequel that nobody asked for is currently sitting at No. 7 on Netflix, and if you’re looking for something so-bad-it’s-good it fits the bill nicely.
What is Pan about?
Pan opens with a 12-year-old Peter (Levi Miller) living a bleak life at a London orphanage after being left there as a baby by his mother, Mary (Amanda Seyfried). After clashing with the orphanage's cruel Mother Barnabas (Kathy Burke), Peter is kidnapped by pirates and whisked away to the fantastical world of Neverland.
There he is captured by the ruthless Blackbeard (Huge Jackman) and forced to mine for a magical substance that the tyrannical pirate desperately wants in order to prevent himself from aging. While in captivity, Peter meets a young James Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and the duo plot an ambitious escape attempt.
Soon enough the duo encounter the warrior Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and learn of the legendary prophecy of Pan, a flying boy who is destined to save Neverland. Peter, with help from his new friends, must unite the various factions of Neverland to put an end to Blackbeard's reign of terror. Plus, he also discovers more about his family lineage and seeks answers about what happened to his mother.
What do critics say about Pan?
Critics were not kind to Pan when it was released in 2015. The film received overwhelmingly negative reviews and current scores just 26% on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab). The situation is even bleaker when flittering by so-called Top Critics, who collectively scored the film just 16%. Ouch.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian (opens in new tab) was especially cutting saying, “the title signifies that deeply special and mythical "Pan" down which all your cinematic hopes must be flushed. ... Or maybe there's a missing "i" between the second and third letters.” The critic also went on to make an unflattering comparison to a holiday TV advertisement.
Rolling Stone (opens in new tab)’s Peter Travers labeled it a “joyless, juiceless theme-park ride from hell” and A.O Scott of The New York Times (opens in new tab) was similarly unimpressed calling it “a hectic and labored attempt to supply the boy who never grew up with an origin story.”
One of the most damning verdicts came courtesy of The New York Post (opens in new tab), with its critic writing “This joyless, 10-megaton bomb fails in just about every imaginable way, as well as some you couldn't possibly imagine.” The publication ultimately awarded the film zero out of four possible stars.
But that’s not to say there were no positive opinions, Bill Zwecker of Chicago Sun-Times (opens in new tab) said, “This is a good film that will be enjoyed both by pre-teen children and the parents who likely will join them at the multiplexes around the country.”
Should you stream Pan?
If you’re looking for something high-quality to watch this week, then you should probably give Pan a pass. The film was a critical and commercial bomb for a reason. But, if you can take some enjoyment from laughing at a movie that frequently makes the most bizarre decisions possible then you might find something worthwhile here.
For example, Blackbeard is the film’s primary antagonist and he’s introduced in a “must be seen to be believed” sequence in which his pirate crew all sing along to Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. Plus, if that preposterously silly musical sequence wasn’t enough, there’s also a similar scene that incorporates the Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop. Yes, Pan definitely crossover into so-bad-it’s-good territory quite frequently.
There is also the possibility that younger viewers may genuinely enjoy the film. Pan is very easy to follow, and with a hefty $150 million budget it contains plenty of action set piece moments that can be pretty fun to watch if you can ignore the underwritten characters and very strange filmmaking decisions. As far as family-friendly movies go, it's not the worst picks out there.
Pan does however again highlight the current drought of quality films being offered by Netflix. The streamer’s slate of new movies has been underwhelming to say the least over the last few months, and unfortunately, its tentpole release for the summer, The Gray Man, is already getting pretty poor reviews of its own. Netflix could definitely do with an injection of quality in the movie department soon.