Whether the audience loves them or hates them, Disney continues to indulge in live action remakes of their animated classics, the most recent being Peter Pan & Wendy. The film follows the all too familiar story of Wendy and her two brothers, John and Michael, as they are whisked away by Peter Pan on an adventure like no other. As they reach Neverland, the home of Peter and his infamous Lost Boys, danger is at every corner whether it is the threat of pirates led by Captain Hook or the fear of growing up.
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Disney’s live action adaptations have not quite had the best track record, and tend to flip-flop between being a hit or a miss. Peter Pan & Wendy falls right in the middle of this, with some moments being fantastic and well-performed, while other moments feel gray, emotionless, and practically boring, if I’m to be honest. The film does its best to stand on its own two feet and ultimately stand apart from the original animation, a film that proved to be problematic in more ways than one. It does well to remove elements that feel unsettling and don’t serve much purpose throughout the film, replacing it with female friendships as well as focusing on bonds built from childhood that propel the plot forward.
There’s a deepened discussion over the need yet unwillingness to grow up, the right and wrong way to grow up, and how our perceptions change as we age. What are we holding onto that is so precious but also prevents us from moving forward and embarking on the adventure we call life? Is it so wrong that we long to be cared for until we can ultimately care for ourselves? For adult viewers, it’s a terrifying thought and frankly, a strange conversation to have in a film one would assume is intended for children. But let’s be honest, this is way better than feeding into the problematic animated depiction of Tiger Lily or the toxic jealous girl trope exhibited by Tinker Bell.
Performances across the board were enjoyable to watch, and captured the essence of their individual characters. The banter between Alexander Molony’s Peter Pan and Jude Law’s Captain Hook felt perfectly comical with a touch of depth to emphasize their painful past. And as stated before, the beautiful friendships built between Wendy, Tiger Lily, and Tinker Bell could not have been made possible without Ever Garbo Anderson, Alyssa Wapanatâhk, and Yara Shahidi.
But if I’m being honest, even with its fantastic thematic elements and better written characters, Peter Pan & Wendy is not exactly a movie you’re watching for the visuals. With Disney, it’s expected to see colorful worlds overflowing with magic and adventure. Yet, Neverland lacks all of this, and feels like we are just flying and backpacking through Europe. It’s a rather dreary world for an otherwise gloomy story and doesn’t try to show us what Neverland could look like when brought to life. It’s enough to take you out of the fantasy of Neverland, and make you focus solely on the dreadful thought of growing up. Maybe that’s the point, and maybe it isn’t, but either way, it’s quite a drag.
Overall, if you’re as invested in Disney’s live actions films as I am, then give Peter Pan & Wendy a watch. There are some great changes made to the story of Peter Pan & Wendy which do give characters more depth and agency, as well as to correct problematic issues from the original animation. But do I think this is worth watching more than once? Others may say yes, but I personally think the answer is no. This one is likely to fade away with its gloom-and-doom energy that feels less like an adventure and more of a long lesson about growing up, all without the magic of Neverland.
Peter Pan & Wendy receives 3 out of 5 Samosas.
Peter Pan & Wendy is now streaming on Disney+.
Runtime: 1h 49m