Peter Pan & Wendy Review – a grand family adventure film

By Marc Miller
Published: April 28, 2023 (Last updated: July 4, 2023)
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peter-pan-and-wendy-review
3.5

Summary

Peter Pan & Wendy is a grand family adventure film that superbly deconstructs the hero/villain cliches.

We review the 2023 Disney+ film Peter Pan & Wendy, which does not contain spoilers.

David Lowery creates soulful arthouse films that never forget every protagonist is nothing without their antagonist. Whether it’s Patrick Wheeler chasing down Bob Muldoon or Gawain building up his courage to confront the Green Knight, both have subtle shades that can be practically interchangeable.

Lowery carries that same sensibility into his Disney+ film, Peter Pan & Wendy, a grand family adventure that recognizes the story’s hero is nothing without their arch-nemesis.

Peter Pan & Wendy (2023) Review and Plot Summary

The film tells the tale of Peter Pan (Alexander Molony) but through the eyes of Wendy Darling (Ever Anderson), who tries to avoid growing up like the classic children’s character.

Wendy’s parents (played by Molly Parker and Alan Tudyk) want her to go to boarding school. However, she would rather play Peter Pan with her two younger brothers.

After meeting Peter and his magical fairy companion Tinker Bell (Yara Shahidi), Wendy and her siblings are taken to Neverland. There, the Darling children encounter the villainous Captain Hook (Jude Law), including his loyal first mate (Jim Gaffigan), and befriend Peter’s lost boys (and even girls).

Lowery’s film is gorgeous to look at and is more than heartfelt. It’s his second film for Disney, after the excellent Pete’s Dragon, which has more meaningful poignancy because of the father-son dynamic.

Lowery’s film is from Wendy’s perspective, as she views the deeply rooted antagonism and regrets between hero and villain to sharpen the blurred lines as the film progresses.

I have some quibbles with Peter Pan & Wendy — Lowery’s film feels like part two of a trilogy. The script could have been called Peter Pan & Captain Hook, which takes on a greater role. You can surmise the studio wanted a streaming sequel that continues to explore Peter and Hook’s relationship.

Also, a subplot of Wendy and her parents appears to have been left on the cutting room floor.

However, the film’s biggest weakness, while it can make the experience slightly uneven, Law’s Captain Hook is the film’s biggest strength. He’s a cantankerous hoot in the film’s best scenes, especially the Crocodile confrontation.

While I’m sure the editing has a big hand in this, there’s genuine chemistry between Law and Molony’s Peter that allows the star to never tower over the young actor.

And that’s the real trick Lowery accomplishes here. He brings equilibrium to Captain Hook and Peter Pan’s relationship, humanizing the notorious villain and even, to a point, vilifying the famous hero.

Lowery’s perspective brings some fresh eyes to the legendary tale while still creating a fun and friendly family adventure film.

Is Peter Pan & Wendy good or bad?

Peter Pan & Wendy is a grand family adventure film. Lowery’s vision has a sweet message for kids about the fragile nature of relationships.

This movie is fun, almost breezy, and superbly deconstructs the hero/villain cliches.

Is Peter Pan & Wendy worth watching?

David Lowery’s Peter Pan & Wendy is worth watching and streaming on Disney+.

The visuals are stunning, and the story is heartfelt. This is an appointment viewing for families to watch together.

What did you think of the 2023 Disney+ film Peter Pan & Wendy? Comment below.

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