Peter Pan & Wendy a middling take on a classic tale

Over the last decade, we’ve seen that what once was old, or a classic has become new again for Disney. That’s especially true of their classic animated features, many of which have gotten—or will soon be getting—the live action treatment.

That’s the case with their latest release, Peter Pan & Wendy, which streams Friday on Disney+. The film is a re-telling of the story of Peter Pan, something that’s been done time and again in a variety of ways over the year. This includes a famous live action film with Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman and non-conventional takes on the material.

But Peter Pan has long been a staple of Disney. The animated adventure, first released in 1953, is still a part of the fan legacy. This includes both the viewing of the film itself and the popular Disneyland ride based on the film that continues to draw guests daily. It isn’t the first of Disney’s animated features to be adapted to a live action film, but it makes sense that the company is revisiting the story 70 years after the original release.

In this version, director David Lowery (The Green Knight, Pete’s Dragon) is handed the reigns. It’s not the first time he’s given a live action spin to a Disney classic. Here, he’s paired with Jude Law, who takes on the iconic role of Captain Hook.

As for the key characters—Peter Pan (Alexander Maloney) and Wendy (Ever Anderson)—are played by relative newcomers, and Tinker Bell is played by Yara Shahidi, best known for her work on Black-ish and Grown-ish. The rest of the cast features some familiar faces like Jim Gaffigan, Molly Parker and Alan Tudyk.

The story here plays out much as you’d expect. Wendy and her brothers are taken to Neverland by Peter and Tinker Bell, there they cross paths with Captain Hook and his crew. Peter and Hook do battle. The Lost Boys and Wendy are captured, and Peter comes to their rescue before the whole journey ends up right back at the Darling home.

The question with an adaptation isn’t about how the story will play, but the journey with these characters. With the live action re-makes we’ve seen highs and lows. This adaptation is no different.

Lowery delivers a film that, at times, is stunning to behold. I enjoyed some of the shots and the locations. The visuals were eye-catching and probably the strongest part of this version. As for how the story plays out, it felt flat. Most of the performances felt cliché or flat as well. I didn’t buy strongly into Maloney as Peter Pan or Law as Captain Hook. I did enjoy Anderson as Wendy, but it wasn’t enough to make this one of the better adaptations.

For fans of the story or families looking for a movie night, this works fine. In terms of adding something new to the legacy, it falls short.

Peter Pan & Wendy is now streaming on Disney+

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.


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