3D Blu-ray Review Pan: THE HTF 3D ADDICT REVIEW

Ronald Epstein

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What can I say? I love 3D! From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content. I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite. That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT. I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky. However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation. These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves. I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum. My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released. As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.







PAN


Studio: Warner Bros.
Product Release: December 22, 2015
Ratio: 2.4:1
Audio: English Dolby Atmos
Running Time: 111 minutes
Rating: PG


On A Scale 0-5

Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 5
3D Separation: 5
3D In Yo' Face Factor: 3



When Pan was released theatrically this past October, it ended up being panned by critics everywhere. In fact, word-of-mouth was so bad that I had already convinced myself that this was a movie I would not waste my time viewing. Once the Blu-ray release was announced, I began reading very positive comments from the HTF membership about this film -- particularly its 3D presentation. This began to pique my interest and I immediately contacted the studio and had them send me over a screener.

I sat down and watched my Blu-ray this past Christmas morning. Perhaps it was the Christmas spirit awakening within me, but I found Pan a wondrous gift to behold. As it slowly unwrapped itself, I found myself emotionally lifted by the contents within.



Though there have been so many film adaptations of the novel by J.M. Barrie, Pan takes the liberty of introducing a new story about the origins of the boy who never grew up. We are introduced to 12-year old Peter (Levi Miller) who has been living in a London orphanage all his life, abandoned by his Mother who gave him up under mysterious circumstances. One evening Peter is whisked away aboard a flying pirate ship and taken to Neverland where he is confronted by the notorious Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman), whose youth is dependent upon crystalized pixie dust mined by the children he kidnaps. When Blackbeard learns that Peter may be the child foretold in a prophesy who will bring end to his tyranny, he sets out to destroy the boy before destiny is fulfilled.

I suppose the reason why critics hated this film was because there is so much of it that seems familiar. Pan looks as if it could have been made by a half dozen different directors. It has the look of Harry Potter, the feel of Indiana Jones, and some oddly placed song sequences that makes one think they are watching something from the mind of Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge). While it's true Pan tries to be a bit of everything, I give credit to Director Joe Wright for weaving a well-paced, highly imaginative, fun tale.



One of the reasons why I was captivated by Pan was due its stunning, 3D Blu-ray presentation. Viewing this across a 110" projected screen, I felt as if I watching something truly epic. Though most of the backdrops are created with CGI, the entire feel of the film seems massive. The elaborately constructed sets make everything seem larger than life, further augmented by the deep dimensionality that 3D provides. Cinematographers Jon Mathieson and Seamus McGarvey use clever camera angles to show off the expansiveness within the massive backdrops of London and Neverland. It's hard to imagine that this was a film upconverted in post production. Watching Pan, the 3D is so immersive and bewitching, that you get the feeling it was lensed for the format. Depth is the most important element here, and its seemingly limitless field provides many awe-inspiring moments. Take for instance, a scene involving a dangling cable car, hovering in mid-air. Looking downward, the sense of unlimited openness sends chills up the spine.



One of the downsides of the conversion process is that the extent of pop-out can be rather limiting. Sadly, this is the case with Pan, but despite those limitations, there is still a sense of satisfying forward projection. During an air raid upon London, streaks of gunfire from warplanes seem too close for comfort. Sequences aboard Blackbeard's pirate ship provide similar effect as fired cannonballs thrust themselves towards the viewer. While pop-out is not blatant, I was pleasantly surprised to see a pirate walking plank protrude itself forward, as well as spokes upon the ship's steering wheel. One of the most impressive effects comes when a feather gently floats downwards, zig-zagging in and out of the screen boundaries. It's very apparent that the filmmakers wanted to make Pan better than its 2D counterpart, and with its elaborate use of spacing and flying debris propelled towards the audience, the film looks absolutely breathtaking.



Pan's Blu-ray presentation is nothing short of amazing. Images are razor sharp and refined. In almost an Oz type setting, much of the first part of the film takes place in a colorless, drab London. However, once we are taken to Neverland, the landscape provides a high saturation of colors that look rich and full. With its impeccable detail and imagery void of anomalies, Pan is simply impressive to view.



Presented in Dolby Atmos (but converted down to 7.1 on my system), Pan has a highly dynamic mix that is often noisy, but effectively immersive. It felt as if the movie was continually "booming" within the confines of my theater with flying pirate ships, London air raids, roaring crowds that precede Blackbeard's appearance and drums that pound within the native village. I was amazed how the singing of Blackbeard's slaves completely filled the room, while in the quieter jungle scenes, I could hear distinctive chirps of crickets emanating from individual channels. It's a rather bombastic aural experience delivered with outstanding clarity and separation among the entire sound field. Priority has been given to carefully placing effects in different channels so that it makes the viewer feel they are firmly placed in the center of the action. There is terrific underlying rumble to the action sequences provided by the LFE channel. I could just imagine how much better Pan would sound in Dolby Atmos and the mix makes me yearn to upgrade just so I can hear the complete effect. I do have plans to upgrade to Atmos in 2016, and you can bet this will be the first film I demo for the format. In the meantime, for those of us with a 7.1 setup, this is a truly absorbing and engaging soundtrack.

Pan arrives in a set that includes 3D, 2D and DVD discs. There is also the inclusion of Digital HD with Ultraviolet. All of this is wrapped in lenticular outer cardboard packaging.



CONCLUSION



On the one hand, it's difficult for me to praise Pan to the point that I can convince many of you reading this review to purchase it blindly. There's more stylish eye candy here than substance. That being said, I found this to be one of those rare films whose combined immersive 3D presentation and absorbing sound made me feel as if I were on a theme park ride. For that reason alone, I am insisting Pan be a definitive purchase for anyone that appreciates a fine 3D experience. The bigger your screen and the louder your system, the better. Just be sure to strap yourself into your chair before you engage the ride. :)


Images are for illustrative purpose only not representative of the picture quality of this disc.

Equipment

Sony HW55ES Front Projector calibrated by Gregg Loewen, Lion AV
Oppo BDP-93 3D Blu-ray Player
Denon 3311CI Receiver
Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear side and back speakers
SV Sound Subwoofer
 

Josh Steinberg

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I'll definitely give this a chance at least as a rental from the good review here (and similar praise from the 3D thread).


I was surprised to read in your review that Seamus McGarvey was the cinematographer. He's got a great eye and his movies always look fantastic, but I don't think there is a more vocally anti-3D cinematographer than him working today. If I was a movie director looking to make a 2D movie, he'd probably be on my shortlist, but if I was making a film that was intended to be released in 3D (whether it was native or postconverted), I wouldn't hire McGarvey.
 

Colin Jacobson

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I thought the movie was pretty bad, but I agree with Ron's assessment of the 3D - it's a really good 3D presentation...
 

bob kaplan

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After the negative feelings I heard about the movie...I expected something really bad...and for me.....I didn't see that! fun visuals at a fast pace....bad bad-guy....was fun...and yup the 3D was good...so all in all...I didn't waste my money....tis a pretty good time
 
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Dick

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So, I keep reading that converting 2D to 3D limits the possibilities of "pop-out" effects. Why? Surely with the tech tools filmmakers have at their disposal, they could get Tinkerbell moving right out to your nose...? Perfect opportunity there.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Dick said:
So, I keep reading that converting 2D to 3D limits the possibilities of "pop-out" effects. Why? Surely with the tech tools filmmakers have at their disposal, they could get Tinkerbell moving right out to your nose...? Perfect opportunity there.
It's entirely possible to get pop-out in converted 3D -- "The Walk" has a few "in your face" moments. I think it's more of a choice filmmakers consistently make because they believe modern audiences do not want "gimmicky" 3D, and anything that pops out is seen as "gimmicky" by the people who make those decisions.
 

bujaki

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Bah, humbug! to those filmmakers who take for granted that "modern" audiences do not want pop-out moments. They should take crash courses in The Golden Age of 3D Film Making. The best 3D films of that era used "gimmicky" shots in service of the story.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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I also avoided this one because of the horrendous reviews. I'm a sucker for Peter Pan stories, so I rented the 2D Blu-Ray on a whim from Redbox and was really blown away.


Since I was about two years old, for some reason there has been a lot of Peter Pan imagery in my dreams. On a few different occasions, particularly Mary's journey through a darkened London at the beginning of the film, there were shots that seemed torn right out of some of those dreams. The cinematography was among the best of 2015 for me.


Levi Miller is a strong contender for the best live action male Peter Pan. Not only was he actually a kid and not teenager trying to play a kid, but he had the mix of traits you associate with Peter Pan. If the dictates of the story meant he didn't have the full fairy wildness of Barrie's Peter Pan, you could still see the mischievousness peeking through.


Hugh Jackman was tremendous as Blackbeard. My only issue with his casting is that it greatly diminishes our chances of ever seeing him tackle Captain Hook.


I loved the non-linearity of time; the idea that Peter would return to Neverland amidst the Blitz and that his adventures with Wendy, John and Michael from the Edwardian London of four decades earlier would take place countless adventures in his future. And he meets up with a very American James Hook who seemed yanked straight from the 1849 California Gold Rush. One thing that Hook and to a lesser extent the P.J. Hogan Peter Pan didn't quite get right is that Neverland has always been more of a dream than a concrete place. In Pan, dream logic holds far more sway than the concrete rules that govern our every day existence.


I also liked the backstory that the movie invented for Peter, which explains why the limitations that apply to the other Lost Boys do not apply to him.


Instead of proper "Indians," the movie gives us a tribe of "savages" that might be something like what a boy who has never been properly exposed to Native American cultures might imagine "Indians" to be. I can't help but think they started with the casting of a white actress, Rooney Mara, as Tiger Lily, and then came up with this conceit to justify it. The "Indians" are the mostly badly dated element of Barrie's original invention, and every modern production has struggled with how to handle them. I think Pan still missed the mark. I will say that, despite my misgivings with her casting in lieu of a genuinely Native American actress, I thought Mara did a good job in the role.


I only had two main complaints:


1) As has already been mentioned in this and other threads, this was clearly intended to be the first movie in a series leading to Peter returning for his shadow in the Darlings' nursery. Peter's story arc to becoming Peter Pan is satisfyingly completed, but by the end of the film Hook is still his steadfast ally and it looks like things are heating up between him and Tiger Lily. There's a lot of story between the end of this film and Hook losing his hand to crocodile and taking his place as Pan's preeminent antagonist.


2) The last act succumbs to common failing of modern big-budget films and devolves into a mindless, endless action sequence which is technically brilliant but ultimately bored me because it did so little to move the story forward.


But when this shows up in the bargain racks, I'm definitely going to pick up a copy to own.
 

Stephen_J_H

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There are also a few pop-out moments in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, involving pointy objects (Star Destroyers, Lightsabers, etc.) that made it worth seeing in 3D.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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Stephen_J_H said:
There are also a few pop-out moments in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, involving pointy objects (Star Destroyers, Lightsabers, etc.) that made it worth seeing in 3D.
Not to mention BB-8 - when he first appears onscreen during the opening sequence, he rolls right up to the screen and then slightly out into the audience before turning around and racing into the village. I thought that was a cute little touch. That Star Destroyer shot in 3D was awesome. I hope it comes out on disc in 3D cause I'd love to freeze frame it and get a better look.
 

sidburyjr

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Josh Steinberg said:
Not to mention BB-8 - when he first appears onscreen during the opening sequence, he rolls right up to the screen and then slightly out into the audience before turning around and racing into the village. I thought that was a cute little touch. That Star Destroyer shot in 3D was awesome. I hope it comes out on disc in 3D cause I'd love to freeze frame it and get a better look.

I don't think there's any doubt that TFA will be available in 3D blu from the first day. That's been the history of non-disney disney. E.G. see any Marvel movies that were in 3D in the theater.
 

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