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Soundtrack review: Pan (John Powell – 2015)

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Soundtrack review: Pan (John Powell – 2015)


“Pan” is a 2015 British-American fantasy adventure film directed by Joe Wright and written by Jason Fuchs, and a prequel to Scottish author J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan story, first staged in 1904. It stars Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara, and Levi Miller as the title character. It is an invented origin story depicting the origins of Peter Pan and Captain Hook. This story and characters have fascinated generations and now it’s time for an extension of the story. What interests me even more is the score by John Powell who is no stranger to awesome fantasy film music…

I heard every score John Powell wrote because I had a “John Powell month” on my site earlier this year, but I have rarely heard him like on the overture of “Pan”. This opening is alive and melodic and romantic and with soft edges as an overture of a magical story should be. The score begins magically and with a hart full of joy I enter the world the composer created.

This score seems to be constructed and played like an opera or concert. I get the distinct feeling of being in a concert hall where the tuba, flute or brass sections follow carefully the indications of a conductor. I don’t know if it’s the production of the score or just the way it was written but this feeling of seeing behind the curtain doesn’t leave me. Actually, it’s more than this. I get the strange feeling that John Powell’s score is in 3D and I also see images and props and all. “Kidnapped / Galleon Dog fight” is an insanely fun cue which mixes the epic factor which made the “How to train your dragon” scores so fantastic with a gypsy sound and twists and turns that make me feel as if I’m flying.

As “Pan” progresses I realize that this is John Powell’s opera; this score is for him what “Jupiter ascending” was for Michael Giacchino. The music is a constant celebration, a feast of exuberance and optimism. This is how a score about magic should sound like, this is how this story should be treated musically. John Powel experiments, invents, improvises and does it all with a purpose. I’m sure the screen writer and director could have created their film from the music and it would have been just as enjoyable. The score for “Pan” inspires and expands the imagination. The score is an exercise in music without limits of any kind, a musical fairy tale.

A score like this feels me up with joy and gratitude. John Powell in full orchestral mode is a marvel and he proves it again here. It would be too much to call “Pan” a reinvention of his sound but there is something different and fresh about it. After the “How to train your dragon” series, add this one as well to the list of Powell masterpieces which will be remembered 20 years from now. And a cue like “Pirates vs Natives vs Heroes vs Chickens”… can’t get enough of it. one of the most fun, exciting and explosive cues of the year. Count this as the best adventure score of the year and do not miss it.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 61 / 61

Album excellence: 100%


Opening Overture

Air Raid / Office Raid

Kidnapped / Galleon Dog Fight

Floating / Neverland Ahoy!

Murmurs Of Love And Death

Mine Escape

Inverted Galleon


Tramp Stamp

Origin Story

Pirates vs Natives vs Heroes vs Chickens

Crocodiles And Mermaids

A Warrior’s Fate

Flying Ship Fight

A Boy Who Could Fly


Fetching The Boys

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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  1. Bruno Cavalca 6th October 2015

    I was sent the score last week, and I have fallen in love with it. Amazing development and depth, stunning orchestration, and as always, very fun to listen to. A massive triumph for Powell again!

    1. Mihnea Manduteanu 6th October 2015

      Agreed.. He’s on fire! And great that you got the score so early!

  2. Gavin 7th October 2015

    I listened to the entire score yesterday and I can describe it with one word.


    I mean, it’s fairy tale-like quality, depth, and orchestration are nothing short of awesomeness!

    I’m not sure if I have to see the movie or not, but time will tell.

    1. Mihnea Manduteanu 7th October 2015

      He really nailed it here!

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