Disney’s “Peter Pan and Wendy” is a pale adaptation of the classic

May 3, 2023


After watching this movie, I can say with certainty ‘Peter Pan’ is best left as an animated classic and should never be attempted again. (Photo via Disney)

I grew up watching Disney movies and it seems as though there’s always a rerun of the classics on my living room TV. Amongst the long list of animated masterpieces, Disney’s 1953 “Peter Pan” is always one of the first we turn on. 

So, when I found out about Disney’s live action remake, “Peter Pan and Wendy,” I couldn’t help but get my hopes up. Despite the failed attempts at reviving the classic by many other studios before, I knew that if anyone could recreate the magic, it would be Disney. 

After watching this movie, I can say with certainty that “Peter Pan” is best left as an animated classic and a live-action version should never be attempted again. 

The movie, released on April 28, follows the same plot as the original, where Wendy (Ever Gabo Anderson), John (Joshua Pickering) and Michael Darling (Jacobi Jupe) are whisked away to the magical Neverland by the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan (Alexander Molony). There, they fight the evil pirate Captain Hook (Jude Law) — Peter’s nemesis ever since he cut off the captain’s hand — and learn the importance of family. 

The biggest differences between this movie and the original, besides being live-action, is the attempted modernization that pushes Wendy to be equal to, if not more important than, Peter. 

One of my biggest qualms with this film was how it portrayed the characters. Wendy was the most unlikeable protagonist, stuck in a rebellious phase where all her “witty one-liners” were just plain mean and not something children should idolize in any form. All the pixie dust in the world couldn’t get me to fly with her if happy thoughts were required; she felt like a thorn in the movie’s side from the beginning. Other characters like Smee, Tiger Lily and the lost boys were lackluster at best, though Molony’s on-point portrayal of Peter and Law’s amazing take on Hook tried to redeem the movie. 

The writing did not help. The story couldn’t pick a single theme to stick with, causing it to fail on all fronts. Throughout its hour and 49 minute run, the movie shoved friendship, family, feminism and the importance of growing up down the viewer’s throat, then never touched on any of them again. Each theme was accompanied by its own climax, which made this movie a pacing nightmare. 

Any fan of the original will agree that it can be offensive with its portrayal of Native Americans and that the characters aren’t the best role models all the time, but it is the sense of wonder Neverland brings that makes it a classic. 

To say this movie fails at that would be the biggest understatement of the century. 

With barely any humor, besides the occasional joke about Michael’s stuffed bear, and unnecessarily ominous sounding lines from heroes and villains alike, “Peter Pan and Wendy” became a boring film. All the childish humor and wonder that should send a viewer back to their youth was gone. Instead, it included a dark undertone. The lack of fun scenes made this movie feel further from Neverland than the real world. 

The only redeeming quality that “Peter Pan and Wendy” had that every other live action adaptation failed to achieve was the setting. From the refuge the lost boys call home to the pirate ship where only bad things seem to happen, the setting brought the animation to life. 

Overall, the shallow changes, horrible characters and too many other flaws to name make “Peter Pan and Wendy” one of the worst Disney live action adaptations. It proves that the 1953 classic and the book it was based on are the only way to journey to the second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning.

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