Disney Plus is streaming a new live-action version of the classic tale of Peter Pan & Wendy. Directed by David Lowery, the movie follows the story of Wendy Darling and her brothers, who are taken by Peter Pan to Neverland, a realm where they meet the Lost Boys and the Native American princess, Tiger Lily. The villainous Captain Hook, played by Jude Law, makes an appearance as Pan’s nemesis, but he is portrayed as more of a neurotic figure with personal issues than a frightening villain. The movie does not dive deeper into the story or reinvent its predecessor, but it still manages to provide the nostalgic familiarity that audiences expect.
Peter Pan was first introduced to the world as a character in the 1902 novel “The Little White Bird” by J. M. Barrie, and he later got his own play and book, both titled “Peter Pan.” The story has since been adapted into many films and television series, with the 1953 Disney animated feature, “Peter Pan,” being the most popular. However, none of the adaptations have ever picked apart the story or turned it inside out. Steven Spielberg’s “Hook,” released in 1991, came close to doing so by attempting to emphasize the importance of never losing touch with one’s inner child, but it eventually fell back on the original story’s morals and conclusions.
The new live-action version of Peter Pan & Wendy does not attempt to break the mold either. Instead, it stays true to the original story and focuses on providing viewers with familiar moments and bits of scenery and costuming. However, some viewers might wish that Lowery had pushed more forcefully against the nostalgia and tried to offer something different.
Despite this, the movie is well made, and the performances are excellent. Alexander Molony plays Peter Pan, while Ever Anderson plays Wendy Darling, and Yara Shahidi plays the fairy Tinkerbell. Alyssa Wapanatahk plays the Native American princess, Tiger Lily, who gets an action-heroine makeover in this version of the story. The climax of the movie doubles as a therapy session for the major characters and has images of dreamlike eeriness, giving Hook a satisfying exit that suits this incarnation of the character.
The live-action version of Peter Pan & Wendy may not be a radical reinvention of the story, but it still manages to provide a nostalgic and enjoyable experience for both children and adults. The movie’s performances are excellent, and the action-packed climax has some genuinely inspired moments. While the movie might not be the subversive “Peter Pan” satire that some viewers might have been hoping for, it is still a well-made and entertaining adaptation of a beloved classic.