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Review: Peter Pan & Wendy
Return To Neverland.
Those subscribed to this newsletter received a template for this review via e-mail by accident the other day. This is the actual review post-embargo.
Wendy Darling, a young girl afraid to leave her childhood home behind, meets Peter Pan, a boy who refuses to grow up. Alongside her brothers and a tiny fairy, Tinker Bell, she travels with Peter to the magical world of Neverland. There she encounters an evil pirate captain, Captain Hook, and embarks on a thrilling adventure that will change her life forever.
We are merely about a month away before all the typical barbs and knives come out for another major remake to a classic animated Disney film in The Little Mermaid. I’ve addressed this in past reviews for these remakes, but there’s a chunk of the population out there that billions of dollars later continues to be baffled that Disney wants to keep attempting these. And I remain of the belief that it hurts some of these movies’ reviews in that the comparisons instantly become memes on social media, and some seemingly go into their screening for them with a grudge against these for merely existing. For my part, I try to take each as is and some have hit with me (Aladdin, Beauty And The Beast, Cinderella, The Jungle Book), some I’ve appreciated at some level even though I haven’t outright loved (Alice In Wonderland, Lady And The Tramp), some have left me thinking they were mediocre (Dumbo, Pinocchio, The Lion King), and some have been complete misses for me (Maleficent, Mulan).
But before we get to that week of annoying discourse, Disney has teamed up with David Lowery to release Peter Pan & Wendy to Disney+ during a pretty quiet weekend for new theatrical releases. A remake to the 1953 classic, Peter Pan, which is beloved but comes with some depictions that are outdated. Many will ask if this really needed to be remade regardless given we've already gotten countless of Peter Pan films and spinoffs that weren’t even from Disney to begin with; but honestly that debate is mute because its a reality and I was given the privilege to watch a screener for this new film days before its official release on the streaming platform.
In terms of the cast the only two people that stood out to me weren’t even the protagonists but Jim Gaffigan as Mr. Smee and of course Jude Law who completely steals the show as Captain Hook. Its not that the rest of the cast is bad, far from it, but none stood out to me the way these two did, and I was happy every time they returned to the screen.
From a technical standpoint its one of the better directed films from among the remakes, has some great production and costume design given the limited budget compared to had it been a theatrical release, and the CGI is actually not half bad for a straight-to-streamer. The color gradient and cinematography could use some work, but I check that off as just victims of what kind of movie you get as a streamer versus a major theatrical event like the one we’re getting from Disney in about a month.
When it comes to things that haven’t aged well or needed to be updated, the movie for the most part fixes those issues. There’s a much more respectable depiction of Natives’ people, Wendy is used as more of a co-lead than a “damsel in distress”, and the movie attempts to create some depth to Peter and Hook’s rivalry.
Unfortunately for me some of those times it strayed from the source material it did suffer. There’s much less emphasis on the lore of the Crocodile and the ticking clock noise Hook fears, Michael and John are nobodies in this, the lost boys group don’t stand out here for me like they do in the original which is a shame given how much more diverse they are here, and the attempt to create more depth for Hook didn’t work well for me.
There’s undoubtedly some things that needed to be addressed in this remake that were and quite successfully, but there were times that attempts to change some things didn’t work either. Overall I came away appreciating but not loving this film. Its definitely in the middle-tier of Disney remakes for me and we’ve seen far worse this year much less other remakes. I’d recommend it to any Disney fanatic and parent of a child, but the original even with its warts and all remains the superior version.