Peter Pan and Wendy (2023) Review
DISNEY returns to their roots for what feels like the millionth time in Peter Pan and Wendy, a live-action reimagining of the timeless tale of a boy who wants nothing more than to be young forever as he brings young kids into a brand new world. Ironically, this latest adventure feels anything but new, rehashing the same story without introducing unique elements to make the film feel wildly familiar and boring.
As the story goes, Peter Pan (Alexander Molony) recruits three young kids from London - Wendy (Ever Anderson), John (Joshua Pickering) and Michael Darling (Jacobi Jupe) - to go on an adventure in his world of Neverland, unbeknownst to the Darling siblings that an evil pirate named Hook (Jude Law) is searching for endless riches and will stop at nothing to retrieve it.
The plot of Peter Pan and Wendy has no surface-level problems, but it's only until you dive deeper into the depths of this reimagining is when you discover the many faults possessed by this shameless Disney cash grab. Although there have been remakes revolving around Peter Pan and his legacy in the past, most notably 1991's Hook and 2003's Peter Pan, each version managed to make a unique story suited for the time period and did more than to copy the original source material. Hook is the best example of this as it follows an adult Peter Pan as he's forced to revisit Neverland in order to rescue his children who've been kidnapped by the ruthless Captain Hook, setting emotional stakes in place during the first 10 minutes. In this version, Peter Pan simply asks these children whether they'd like to come along with him, and with little to no hesitation from the kids for their safety, they accept his offer.
Arguments can be made that a children's story doesn't have to adhere to logic, but that excuse is no longer acceptable today, especially when movies from decades ago such as The Lion King and Toy Story have taught children valuable lessons while also adhering to the plot's structure and making it enjoyable for kids and adults. It is this kind of thinking which lowers the standard of films we are presented with - if we accept garbage, we will be given garbage.
Despite taking place in such a fantastical environment, the movie lacks any emotional stakes or interesting characters, severely lacking the magic shown in previous adaptations. I've never been the biggest fan of the original Peter Pan, so I went into the film without the idea of comparing it to the original, but it's so hard not to. It feels like the exact same movie just without any childhood wonder. Many of the sets are colour-graded to give the movie a "realistic" appearance which is a terrible excuse as not only are there mountain ranges in the world that are filled with colour, it doesn't even take place in our world so there's literally no reason for this except for the fact you want to save money on the production.
To the film's credit, they did at least one thing right - and that's the casting of Jude Law as Captain Hook. The distinguished actor gives it his all, embodying the Captain's personality and stealing any scene he appears in. It's just a shame this performance was ultimately wasted in this forgettable adaptation. There are certainly worse movies out there, but when you factor in previous reimaginings, it's hard to imagine any scenario where Peter Pan and Wendy will leave any positive legacy - or any at all.