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Peter Pan and Wendy Review: A Modern Twist on a Classic Tale!

Peter Pan and Wendy Review: “Peter Pan & Wendy” is pretty much what you’d expect from a live-action adaptation of one of the numerous animated classics produced by Walt Disney. A significant portion of this film’s audience will view it anticipating live-action recreations of circumstances from the 1950 Disney animated film simply titled “Peter Pan.”

Co-writer and director David Lowery does not disappoint in terms of nostalgic familiarity, though some viewers (including this one) may have wished he had resisted it more aggressively.

There have been numerous Peter Pan remakes, reboots, and reimaginings, but none have truly turned the story on its head or dissected it, not even Steven Spielberg’s “Hook,” which ultimately circles back to “Never lose touch with your inner child.”

Peter Pan and Wendy Review

Wendy Darling (Ever Anderson) leads her younger brothers John (Joshua Pickering) and Michael (Jacobi June) in swashbuckling sword fights during their first play session.

This is followed by a few sweet moments between the children and their parents (Molly Parker and Alan Tudyk). Peter Pan (Alexander Molony) and Tinkerbell (Yara Shahidi of “Black-ish” and “Grown-ish”) make their entrance from another dimension shortly thereafter.

They are transported to Neverland via a wormhole near the legendary Second Star on the Right. On the other side, they meet and befriend the Lost Boys (apparently modelled after the Benneton catalogue urchins from “Hook”) as well as the Native American princess Tiger Lily (Alyssa Wapanatahk, a member of the Bigstone Cree Nation), who was a pawn-prize-stereotype in the Disney cartoon but gets an action-heroine makeover here, literally riding to the rescue on multiple occasions.

Peter Pan and Wendy Review

Jude Law, who is settling into his “I’m just here to have a good time!” phase of character acting, anchors the film as Captain Hook, Peter Pan’s archenemy. Law portrays the character as a neurotic comic figure with Personal Issues rather than a frightening antagonist (although young viewers will still want to conceal behind furniture when he orders the Darling children’s execution).

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Lowery has given Hook a touch of the Magua or Killmonger villain-as-antihero treatment, i.e., he has made Hook’s Bad Guy Origin Story so relatable that he appears more pitiful than despicable.

Jim Gaffigan, who is shaping up to be a John Goodman-level supporting actor, portrays Hook’s sidekick Smee as an emotionally battered, exasperated subordinate, a schlump who has his flaws but is mainly frazzled by having to please a boss who believes that the solution to low morale is to throw more people overboard.

The Peter-Tinkerbell pairing has also been partially rethought: it is now evident that she is the leader of the duo, at times appearing to psychically command him or implant suggestions or tasks in his mind in a manner that makes him believe he is acting independently.

There is little that can be said against the filmmaking, which ranges from calendar-art attractive to legitimately inspired (although there is a significant issue with one aspect of the lighting/colour grading; see below). The action-packed climax, which doubles as a therapy session for the main characters, features images of dreamlike eeriness and provides Law with a fitting exit for this version of Hook.

Peter Pan and Wendy Review

But the whole film has a whiff of missed opportunity, and at times you may wonder if Lowery and his co-writer Toby Halbrooks wanted to delve deeper than the copyright-protecting, merchandise-selling executives at Disney would have permitted.

There’s a genuinely subversive “Peter Pan” satire to be made out of the Peter-Tinkerbell relationship in this one: she’s a small, mute woman who can’t accomplish anything without using a charismatic boy who refuses to grow up as her instrument.

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Peter Pan and Wendy is a live-action adaptation of the 1950 Disney animated film, featuring swashbuckling sword fights, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, and Captain Hook as a neurotic comic figure with Personal Issues.

Lowery’s Bad Guy Origin Story has a relatable villain-as-antihero treatment, Jim Gaffigan’s Smee as an emotionally battered subordinate, and a subversive “Peter Pan” satire of the Peter-Tinkerbell relationship.

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