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Review: Peter Pan & Wendy (2023)

Peter Pan & Wendy (2023)

Directed by: David Lowery

Premise: A live action retelling of J.M. Barrie’s fairy tale. Peter Pan (Alexander Molony) brings Wendy (Ever Anderson) and her brothers to Neverland where they confront Captain Hook (Jude Law).

What Works: Peter Pan & Wendy is another attempt by Disney to remake one of its classic animated films but unlike The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast this film does some things differently and it’s less a remake than a reimagining of the source material. The casting is excellent, namely Jude Law as Captain Hook. Law possesses the right mix of menace and cartoonish humor and Law is well paired with Jim Gaffigan as Smee. The filmmakers aren’t afraid to be a little violent. It’s still a PG rated Disney picture but the tone is a little darker than we usually associate with the studio. This version of the story brings forward Wendy, played by Ever Anderson, and she accepts the responsibilities of being the oldest sibling. The movie looks great. David Lowery previously directed The Green Knight and 2016’s Pete’s Dragon and the fantasy has a gritty reality. The music by Daniel Hart is also quite good, using elements of the music from the 1953 animated film while creating a distinct score with some fun pirate songs.

What Doesn’t: Peter Pan & Wendy is primarily Wendy’s story but it doesn’t do very much with Peter. Actor Alexander Molony does a good job in the role but he just isn’t given enough to do. The filmmakers hint at a character arc with Peter learning to take responsibility for the other Lost Boys but the story lacks decisive dramatic moments in which Peter demonstrates his growth. The lack of substance is also true of the story overall. Nothing really gets resolved. Wendy realizes her responsibilities as the oldest sibling and Peter’s conflict with Captain Hook reaches a climax but the tensions never reach a crisis and nothing is really affirmed or won. It’s hard to say who Peter Pan & Wendy was made for. The film lacks the fun or whimsy usually associated with these characters and the film’s version of Neverland is absent of any sense of wonder. The gritty reality of David Lowery’s approach is interesting but it also at odds with the carefree adventure that Peter Pan is usually taken to represent. Peter Pan & Wendy might engage older audiences and viewers familiar with J.M. Barrie’s original story and its other adaptations but children aren’t likely to be entertained by it.

Disc extras: Available on Disney+.

Bottom Line: Peter Pan & Wendy is an interesting take on the material and older viewers might get something out it. The film lacks the fun and fantasy usually associated with Peter Pan and it probably won’t hold the attention of children. 

Episode: #948 (May 14, 2023)