David Lowery brings us a grittier version of the classic Peter Pan tale starring Alexander Molony, Ever Anderson, and Jude Law.
J. M. Barrie’s classic tale of Peter Pan has been told time and time again – and it is now being retold once more.
David Lowery’s Peter Pan & Wendy begins when the titular boy enters the London home of Wendy (Ever Anderson), John (Joshua Pickering) and Michael Darling (Jacobi Jupe) and encourages them to fly away with him to the magical world of Neverland, thanks to some good thoughts and fairy dust from Tinker Bell (Yara Shahidi).
In Neverland, the siblings meet the Lost Boys (and now Girls) and help Pan fight the pirates and his enemy, Captain Hook (Jude Law).
This version is not a shot-for-shot live-action remake of Disney’s 1953 animation Peter Pan.
It is loyal to the beats of the story and still an entertaining adventure, but the campy, lightweight tone has been ditched for a more melancholic one.
Lowery’s version is grounded in realism and really digs into the pros and cons of growing up and being an adult.
His Pan is more thoughtful and introspective instead of being just a fun-loving kid, while Hook is a gritty and ugly nemesis instead of the typical panto-style villain.
This is because Lowery has created a new backstory between the pair in which they used to be best friends as young boys.
However, Hook left Neverland as a child and returned as an adult – and their friendship soured as a result.
This reimagined history makes their feud more believable and the tension and resentment between them feel more genuine. These characters have never been so human and well-rounded.
But rest assured, this is not some sad and depressing version of Peter Pan. Lowery has not forgotten the fun and the magic – he’s just added more emotional weight to the tale.
Law is the standout as the angry and lonely Hook, but Yara Shahidi also deserves a shout-out for conveying Tinker Bell’s emotions without any speech.
We cannot hear her voice so we have to read her lips, but even when that doesn’t work, you can infer what she means.
Peter Pan & Wendy still has all the standout fantastical elements – the flying, the crocodile and the fights between the Lost Boys and the pirates – but it is also slightly sadder than usual.
While it’s a refreshing take and corrects many diversity and representation issues, children may prefer to seek out the more light-hearted versions.
Streaming on Disney+ now.
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