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Peter Pan and Wendy (2023) premieres on Disney+ on Friday, April 28, 2023.
David Lowery‘s Peter Pan and Wendy is being heralded as a diverse live-action adaptation of the 1953 Disney animated fantasy film. 70 years after the original was released, this new adaptation is a love letter to the original movie and J.M. Barrie story.
Peter Pan and Wendy – A Familiar Story
The Darling family is well versed in the stories of Peter Pan (Alexander Molony), Tinker Bell (Yara Shahidi), and Captain Hook (Jude Law). The children love to play pretend in the nursery under the watchful eye of Nana the dog and their loving parents, George and Mary Banks (Molly Parker, Alan Tudyk).
So when the mythical boy and his best friend, Tinker Bell, fly through the Darling family’s nursery window one evening to chase after a missing shadow, there is no need for lengthy introductions. Nor is there much sentiment when Wendy gives Peter Pan his first kiss.
It is almost as if the writers expect us to know every little detail about Peter Pan, the Darling family, Neverland, and Captain Hook. While this helps cut down time that would be necessary to provide backstory and context, it also leads to one of the movie’s biggest disappointments. Expecting that everyone knows the folklore, the writers wrote everything in a breezy manner. Everything from the introduction of the key characters to the major moments such as flying to Neverland were played off as beautiful but nevertheless emotionless vignettes.
Peter Pan and Wendy – A Diverse Story
Scriptwriters Toby Halbrooks and David Lowery emphasized that they “agonizing over every little detail” and wanted a story that would be diverse and would avoid the racial stereotypes of the first movie.
They did a great job diversifying the group of Lost Boys (Kids) and Pirates in Peter Pan and Wendy. There are Lost Boys and Lost Girls of different races and there is even a young actor with Down’s syndrome (Noah Matthews Matofsky). What I loved best about this diversity was that there was no soapbox lecturing and it was a simple matter of fact that there was an Asian pirate or a pair of black twin girls amongst the Lost Boys.
Disney similarly did a good job of re-creating the character of Tiger Lily (Alyssa Wapanatahk) into a warrior princess of an indigenous tribe on Neverland. Hook does not capture and try to drown Tiger Lily as he did in the 1953 movie. Instead she is a warrior princess who comes to Wendy and Peter Pan’s defense several times throughout the movie. And her heritage is treated with respect without it feeling like Disney is trying to ram it down our throats.
Hopefully we will see more diverse stories told in such a wonderful and open method by Disney.
Peter Pan and Wendy – Jude Law as Captain Hook
As I mentioned in the caption, Jude Law owns this version of Peter Pan and Wendy. Frankly, I feel like this movie was mis-titled and should have been called Peter Pan and Hook.
True, he might not be the sexy and romantic Captain Hook from the original story but neither was the amazing Dustin Hoffman in the 1991 live action Hook opposite Robin Williams. What he does bring to this story is a terrific multi-faceted performance as a misunderstood villain in the same vein as Cruella.
Toby Halbrooks and David Lowery pull back from the breezy manner of storytelling that I mentioned above when it comes to the backstory of Captain Hook and Peter Pan. Without giving away too much from the story, I was cheering for this unlikely friendship and would love to see a prequel series or movie featuring a younger James Hook and Peter Pan.
Peter Pan and Wendy – Beautifully Designed
The movie Peter Pan and Wendy was originally supposed to be released in cinemas prior to Covid-19. And the movie probably lacks from not being released on the big screen in 2023. The movie’s special effects and gorgeous scenic design would have looked amazing on the big screen. And while I am sure it will also play well on many a flat screen at home, it will just not play to the same effect unfortunately.
Peter Pan and Wendy – Where to Watch?
Peter Pan and Wendy will premiere on Disney+ on Friday, April 28, 2023.
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