REVIEW – “Peter Pan & Wendy”

Out of all the classical characters than Disney has adapted, Peter Pan is simultaneously one of the most tired and beloved of the bunch. The story of Peter Pan has been told to death, and it almost feels like enough is enough – and that’s coming from a person who usually advocates for filmmakers to take their own interpretation of a character and make their own, unique story with them. However, Peter Pan & Wendy struck my interest due to director David Lowery being behind the camera for this interpretation. Not only has Lowery directed some of my favorite films of the last few years such as A Ghost Story and The Green Knight, but he also made what I consider to be the best of the Disney live-action remake catalog with 2016’s Pete’s Dragon – a film that mostly flew under the radar, but was absolutely beautiful and delightful.

Considering the independent films I previously mentioned, you may be surprised that David Lowery is as good at making Disney films as he is. In fact, in 2021 he hailed Peter Pan as his dream project – and it really shows in the final product. While I wouldn’t rank Peter Pan & Wendy very high in his resume of films, it’s evident that he has a lot of love for this story and these characters. The film doesn’t take a lot of huge liberties with the classic story that we know, but instead looks at these characters from a slightly more empathetic and emotional lens. This is especially true for that of Captain Hook, who is played wonderfully this time around by Jude Law, as he brings a lot of genuine emotion and gravitas to this role.

I was also fairly impressed with the way the film tackles that of the unspoken backstory between Peter and Hook, as it really felt like there was some genuine drama there that left other adaptations feeling like a bit of a missed opportunity. Alexander Molony does quite a solid job as Peter Pan, and stands toe-to-toe well with that of Jude Law. However, the stand-out performance for me was that of Ever Anderson as Wendy, who delivers such a lovely, emotional performance that is reigns as one of the most impressive performances I’ve seen from a younger actor in quite sometime.

David Lowery’s films are almost always subtly directed, and this is no exception – he brings a true storybook energy to this that makes it feel genuinely dreamlike and cozy at times. I would also credit the films’ DP Bojan Bazelli, who turns in some really solid work here. A lot of these remakes can kind of blend together in both visual style and simply trying to emulate the magic of the original material, so it was nice that this one both looked and felt different by nearly every angle.

However, going back to my very first point in the review of Peter Pan being a bit of a tired property to tackle – I did feel as though this film suffered from this fatigue despite its best efforts. While I mostly enjoyed the film and found its heart to be incredibly pure and sweet, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I am simply getting tired of seeing this story being told over and over again; albeit in different ways. Lowery makes the most of this and I can admire the craft and even enjoy it to an extent, but it still feels far too familiar to fully invest in and make it stand amongst the crowd as something unique to the other adaptations that exist.


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