Peter Pan & Wendy
Peter Pan & Wendy had a good amount of potential to be refreshing and of real substance, given the combination of director David Lowery and his positive recentring of Wendy Darling in this take on JM Barrie’s classic. The auteur had already caught lightning in a bottle in his remake of Disney’s amiable but little-seen 1977 picture Pete’s Dragon, bringing the fable to life through strong technological advancements and humane performances.
The benefit of mining a lesser-seen story is not available when adapting Peter Pan, and sadly the result is not as distinctive as it could be. The story begins with a despondent Wendy (Ever Anderson) whose stately London domesticity with her parents (Alan Tudyk and Molly Parker) is interrupted when Tinker Bell (a muted Yara Shahidi) hauls her away to Neverland, encountering the boy who refuses to grow up (Alexander Molony) along the way. We all know how the rest of the story goes, especially when the menacing Captain Hook (Jude Law) enters the fray.
There’s a lot of value in this production, from the costume and set designs to the generally strong VFX to the diverse casting choices, featuring talent from underrepresented backgrounds in speaking roles. However, the inclusive casting is also slightly undermined by the fact that the star of the show, Ever Anderson, is the daughter of actress Milla Jovovich and director Paul WS Anderson – it’s unfortunate timing, as the hot discourse around nepo babies rages on, and its association with taking away opportunities for further underrepresented talent.
Regardless, no actor could elevate this tedious retelling from feeling like a perfunctory exercise in four-quadrant filmmaking. One is just left with the hope that Lowery got paid handsomely and nurtured his relationships with the Hollywood bigwigs well enough to continue convincing them to fund works like The Green Knight and The Old Man & The Gun, where his artistry can really shine through and his storytelling doesn’t feel so choked by studio notes.
Peter Pan & Wendy is released on Disney+ on 28th April 2023.
Watch the trailer for Peter Pan & Wendy here: