Peter Pan & Wendy

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

J. M. Barrie’s 1904 play and 1911 novel have inspired a multitude of live-action movies. There’s been nine (according to Wikipedia), including Steven Spielberg’s Hook (1991), Peter Pan (2003), directed by P. J. Hoganan, and Joe Wright’s 2015 prequel Pan. The most notable is still the animated adventure fantasy by Disney in 1953. That is the inspiration for this official non-animated version of their animated treasure.

Director David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon) has a talent for detailed art direction, heavy on the mood. The Green Knight (2021), a poetic saga, was a feast for the senses but low on plot. Predictably, Lowery’s take here offers a darker, more realistic look than its predecessor. The production design is luxurious. Unfortunately, an inherently captivating adventure is somehow rendered less engaging. Peter Pan & Wendy would play better with the sound off and listening to an alternate soundtrack. Leonard Bernstein’s score for the 1950 Broadway musical would seem appropriate.

There’s no one to root for. The characters are sapped of their charm and warmth. The biggest miss is the titular Wendy Darling herself (Milla Jovovich’s daughter, Ever Anderson). She affects a perpetual state of resentment. Her two younger brothers, John (Joshua Pickering) and Michael (Jacobi Jupe), irritate her. She’s also upset that she’s being shipped off to boarding school the next day. She tells her mother (Molly Parker) she does not want to grow up. She’d much rather swordfight. That night a sprite (Yara Shahidi) that emotes without words appears in their room. Tinker Bell was a fiery and jealous individual in the original. Here she simply exists as a device to sprinkle magic dust and little else. Peter Pan (Alexander Molony) appears as an afterthought. Actor Alexander Molony is a suitably impish boy but strangely gloomy and withdrawn. His waifish countenance is almost expressionless. No matter because his role is significantly reduced in this narrative.

The rest of the cast fares no better. The three Darling children (that’s with a capital D) get sprinkled with Tinker Bell’s fairy dust and fly off to Neverland. There they meet Captain Hook (Jude Law), who we learn had his right hand cut off by Peter Pan and fed to a crocodile. Hook is the villain but has a backstory explaining why he’s misunderstood. Tiger Lily (Alyssa Wapanatâhk) is a dignified and noble hero who heads an ethnically inclusive coterie of children. The so-called Lost Boys also happens to include girls. “But you’re not all boys,” Wendy notices, then immediately corrects herself. “I guess it doesn’t really matter!” she observes. Indeed, it doesn’t, and neither does any of this.

Peter Pan & Wendy begins promisingly. Their mom, Mrs. Darling, portrayed by actress Molly Parker, affects a maternal love that is most appreciated. But over 109 minutes, the developments become a chore to watch. This straight-to-Disney+ exercise is labored and dreary. It needs fun. Even the battles are monotonous. The messy amalgamation inartfully blends a slavish devotion to its source but with conspicuous course correcting. The film feels more like an apology than an affirmation of Disney’s animated classic.

What more can I add? The actors are unengaging. The action is mundane. The color is often dull. Oh, Peter is a supporting character in a movie that bears his name. Just call this Wendy: The Tale of a Petulant Individual.


5 Responses to “Peter Pan & Wendy”

  1. Disney needs to stop with these live-action remakes. 1 1/2 stars ⭐️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rachel's Reviews Says:

    This one was just fine for me but nothing special which is disappointing given Lowery’s previous Pete’s Dragon


    • Director David Lowery’s style is suited perfectly for a film like The Green Knight. It doesn’t work for lighthearted Disney fare. Pete’s Dragon was fine for me. This was the nadir.


      • Rachel's Reviews Says:

        I loved Pete’s Dragon. I think it’s one of the best family films of the last decade.


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