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Amongst the multiple live-action remakes of animated films being made by Disney, one of them was Peter Pan. Now this one felt a bit more palatable since it can be seen as a new adaptation of the Peter Pan story (something that has been done so many times in film and TV) rather than a remake of the animated 1953 film itself. Directed by David Lowery, the film debuted on Disney+ rather than going to cinemas. Is it a wonderful thought? Read on for my review of Peter Pan & Wendy!
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The film opens up to the darling Darling household on a typical London night in the early 1900s. Siblings Wendy, John, and Michael, played by Ever Anderson, Joshua Pickering, and Jacobi Jupe, respectively, are playing together imagining themselves in the lore of Peter Pan and Captain Hook, stories which they are very familiar with. However it’s not all fun and games as tomorrow, Wendy is being sent out to boarding school by her parents, played by Alan Tudyk and Molly Parker. Wendy is incredibly upset about this, doesn’t want to grow up, and wishes that things can remain how they are. Her mother tries to comfort her via her words as well as by singing a beautiful lullaby.
Later that night while the Darling siblings are sleeping, they’re visited by the boy from Neverland himself, Peter Pan, and his pixie partner, Tinker Bell, played by Alexander Molony and Yara Shahidi, respectively. The Darling siblings are surprised to discover that their favorite literary characters are actually real and present in their bedroom! Why are they here? Well, like the original film, Peter’s shadow is locked here inside the Darling playroom, but unlike the original film, the Darlings are not aware of that. Peter Pan recaptures his shadow and Wendy sews it back on for him and even gives him a “kiss” in the gift of a thimble.
Peter Pan often hangs around the Darling household listening to the stories being told of him and Neverland, the wondrous land wherein he resides wherein kids don’t have to grow up. He wants to take the Darling siblings back to Neverland with him, an idea that they all immediately love! After thinking happy thoughts (and being sprinkled with pixie dust from Tinker Bell), the Darling siblings fly along with Peter Pan and Tinker Bell towards the “second star to the right and straight on ’til morning” until they reach Neverland.
They’re all overjoyed to be there and love what they see! But not everyone is happy to see them. Watching from the seas below are pirates led by the villainous Captain Hook, played by Jude Law. The be-hooked pirate absolutely hates Peter Pan and wants to end his life! And his first mate, Mr. Smee, played by Jim Gaffigan, along with his pirate crew are at his command to help make that happen. They start firing their cannons at Peter and the Darlings causing them to be separated.
Wendy gets hit and washes up onshore searching for the others. She comes upon a Native American girl named Tiger Lily, played by Alyssa Wapanatâhk, and a bunch of kids known as the Lost Boys (although there are girls amongst them too because…2023, I dunno.) who are Peter Pan’s posse, so to speak. At first, they’re suspicious of Wendy, but soon trust her as she explains what happened. Using a spyglass, they see that John and Michael have been kidnapped by the pirates and taken to a rocky formation known as Skull Rock. They head after them to rescue the boys.
As John and Michael won’t reveal Peter Pan’s location, Captain Hook is planning to kill the two brothers.
But as luck would have it, Peter Pan is there to save the day having masqueraded himself as one of Captain Hook’s men and begins to fight them and afterwards Captain Hook. While Peter Pan is busy with Captain Hook, Wendy and Tiger Lily free John and Michael. They manage to escape as a huge crocodile comes after Captain Hook having eaten his hand sometime in the past and back for more.
Afterwards, Wendy punches Peter Pan because he…I dunno, deserted them I guess. But she makes a good point about Peter Pan thinking he can do everything himself when he’s received so much help already from the Lost Boys, Tiger Lily, Tinker Bell, and even her. Anyway, Peter Pan and the Lost Boys take the Darling siblings to their secret lair, an abandoned ruin within the forest.
The Lost Boys want Wendy to be their mother, but in this version of the film, she’s not receptive to that idea. She does tell them though about how they all have mothers causing them to miss theirs and she sings them the lullaby her mother sang to her. Peter Pan also gets a bit vulnerable with her and tells her the story of how Captain Hook wasn’t always Captain Hook. He was once just James, the very first Lost Boy, and Peter Pan’s best friend. They did everything together until one day, James decided to leave Neverland without telling Peter Pan and when he returned, he became the evil, cruel Captain we know now.
This is interrupted though when Captain Hook and his men infiltrate Peter Pan’s lair, capture the Lost Boys and the Darlings, and Peter Pan falls to his apparent death.
Captain Hook takes his captives back to his ship. There we learn from him that the reason he left Neverland was because he was missing his mother and wanted to find her. Peter Pan didn’t like that and forced James to leave. James never made it back home nor ever found his mother. Instead he got lost at sea, but was found and raised by Mr. Smee. Since then, he’s worked his way up the ranks to becoming Captain of the pirates.
He forces Wendy to walk the plank as she sacrifices herself to protect the other kids from being killed. As she walks off the plank, to everyone’s surprise, she doesn’t make a splash. It turns out that Tinker Bell saved her with pixie dust. And as luck would have it, Peter Pan has been nursed back to
life health by Tiger Lily when Peter Pan’s shadow went to seek her aid.
They’ve all regrouped at the pirate ship leading to a final showdown between them and the pirates. During the final battle, Peter Pan apologizes to Captain Hook for the past and tries to save him from falling off the ship. Unfortunately, Captain Hook falls to the waters below to his apparent death. Peter Pan mourns his friend but then takes the Darlings and the Lost Boys back to the Darlings’ home in London.
Mr. and Mrs. Darling are shocked to see so many kids playing in the nursery and we learn that the main reason why Peter Pan hung out by the house was because that used to be the house he lived in. One day, he got mad at his mother and ran away and since then, he’s returned to try to find his mother again. He never did, but kept coming back to hear the stories about him. Wendy invites him to stay with them, but Peter Pan returns to Neverland where we see that Captain Hook and Mr. Smee have survived. When Captain Hook sees Peter Pan, he’s happy to see his friend again.
And that was Peter Pan & Wendy! Honestly, it was a lot better than I expected and overall a good film. I thought the acting by almost all the actors was really great although the actor who played Michael started to annoy me. I especially loved Alexander Molony as Peter Pan as I thought he brought the right level of snark and pompousness that the character demands. And while I thought Jude Law did a really great job as Captain Hook, I would have loved had they kept the tradition of the actor who plays Mr. Darling be the one to also play Captain Hook. Just imagine Captain Hook played by Alan Tudyk!
This film also has some breathtaking backgrounds and cinematography that I haven’t felt this amazed by since like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time! I felt this movie needed to be seen on the big screen!
My main issues with the film are with some of the writing. Firstly, the film seems to only have one plot/adventure. The kids go to Neverland, captured by Captain Hook, and an ending battle with Peter Pan. I felt this film needed a few more subplots. In the animated film, we got scenes with the mermaids and the Native Americans. Granted, I’m not saying they were not racist scenes, but the film felt like there was more going on. In this film, we see the mermaids and the Native Americans very briefly.
Heck, even Tiger Lily isn’t written very well in this film, basically just being a warrior princess with homeopathic knowledge! And Wendy loses her maternal instinct from the first film and replaces that with also being able to fight, even going so far as to punch Peter Pan!
I also wish the Darling siblings had more of a connection with Peter Pan in the beginning of the film. Yes, they make-believe that they’re Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but it’s not even mentioned as to how often they indulge in their stories. Heck, even Peter Pan’s shadow being locked in their playroom is unknown to the Darling siblings.
But none of these are huge issues; I still think this film is a pretty well-made one! I surprisingly recommend giving this film a viewing!
So, my final score for this film is 33/35 = 94.29% (A) !
The next review will be posted on June 2, 2023.
2 thoughts on “Peter Pan & Wendy (2023)”
I wonder what our J.M. Barrie-loving friend Mr. Sharpson will think of this one.
Yeah, I wonder what he will think.