Peter Pan & Wendy
April 28th, 2023
MOVIE: PETER PAN & WENDY
STARRING: EVER ANDERSON, ALEXANDER MOLONY, JUDE LAW, JIM GAFFIGAN
DIRECTED BY: DAVID LOWERY
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
The constant question that will be asked with every live-action Disney movie that they parade into theaters or onto streaming is- Did we really need this? That same question will be asked in a week for The Little Mermaid but before that is David Lowery’s new venture into NeverLand with Peter Pan & Wendy. The answer to this one? It’s a bit of a yes and no. Did we need it, no. But it does have the visual beauty and emotional impact that can be delivered by Lowery. Peter Pan & Wendy is visually spectacular and tells the story we all know about the boy who could fly. It’s one of the better of these Disney retreads and that is ultimately enough.
One minor tweak in this version is the narrative from Wendy’s (played spectacularly by young Ever Anderson) perspective. She’s the oldest child, tasked with setting a good example to brothers John (Joshua Pickering) and Michael (Jacobi Jupe). She tells stories of Peter Pan and Captain Hook but her mother Darling (Molly Parker) and father Darling (Alan Tudyk) don’t want their heads filled with nonsense. One night, the magical Tinker Bell (Yara Shahidi) and Peter Pan (Alexander Molony) fly through the window looking for Peter’s shadow. Soon the Darling children have whisked away to NeverLand, sprinkled with magic pixie dust, and soaring through the air. It’s a gleeful joy until cannonballs fired by the determined Captain Hook (Jude Law) knock them out of the sky. From there it’s about Wendy, The Lost Boys, and Peter Pan finding one another before Hook and his pirates do.
There are two opposing forces pushing against one another in Peter Pan & Wendy. Visually it is stunning, with Lowery using the luscious style that we see in Pete’s Dragon and The Green Knight. Overhead shots of NeverLand come to life, with gorgeous green cliff sides, and pirate ships torn right out of a book. Pushing against the visuals is the classic Peter Pan story, told time and again, along with the title character barely making an impact. The goal of Lowery- who co-wrote the screenplay with Toby Halbrooks– may have been to tell a Pan story without Peter, but Molony’s version of the character barely leaves the mark. This is the Wendy and Hook show.
What is evident from his first introduction is that Jude Law is having a ball playing the mustachioed villain. With trusty friend Smee (Jim Gaffigan) at his side, there is a richer depth to who Hook is and what drives his disdain for Peter Pan. It’s hard to say but Law is playing a more ferocious and callous Hook, unlike Dustin Hoffman’s interpretation which was more Shakespearean, or Hugh Jackman which was all over the place. It may be safe to say that Lowery’s goal was to get the visuals– the crocodile is great–and his villain right. On that, he succeeds.
Easy to say that Peter Pan & Wendy is one of the better live-action Disney versions and it’s not a high bar to clear. Lowery makes this in his sleep, where the excellence of The Green Knight or A Ghost Story far exceeds this, but he still installs his themes of life passing by, the importance of being a child, and staying young no matter how old you get. The answer to those wondering if this needs to exist? It certainly does not. You can throw it onto the pile of other Peter Pan movies but coincidentally, this might be one of the better versions. Next time call it Wendy & Hook.
PETER PAN & WENDY IS STREAMING FRIDAY APRIL 28TH, 2023 ON DISNEY+.
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady