“Peter Pan & Wendy”: when fantasy coexists with adventure.

A film “like the old ones”, made by someone who knows very well that he is talking to a young audience and that visual effects can be very nice, but if he doesn’t put them at the service of the story, they make no sense.

Peter Pan & Wendy 7 points

United States, 2023

Director: David Lowery

Screenplay: David Lowery and Toby Halbrooks

Running time: 106 minutes

Starring: Alexander Molony, Ever Anderson, Jude Law, Yara Shahidi, Molly Parker, Alan Tudyk and Jim Gaffigan

Premiere on Disney+

Craftsmen Directors in Hollywood: David Lowery’s Unique Filmmaking Approach

Hollywood has a long tradition of directors labeled as “craftsmen”. They are not, of course, men and women who make films with few resources or behind the back of an industry whose thematic, formal and narrative boundaries are increasingly insurmountable. They are those who, while fully aware of their role as cogs in a huge system, have the ability to traffic something akin to a gaze, leaving their own imprint on films that are a priori impersonal. David Lowery is one of them. A veteran editor, he has a filmography with dozens of short films and six feature films. Except for the first two, the indie cop Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013) and the very good, almost minimalist A Ghost Story (2017), Lowery moved like a fish in water among the studios (almost always Disney) filming projects to which he knew how to breathe something that is scarce in the more mainstream wing of cinema of family aspirations: heart, narrative smoothness, plausible characters and with clear motivations without this implying an absence of kinks.

Peter Pan & Wendy: Is Disney’s Latest Live-Action Remake Worth Watching?

So it was with My Friend the Dragon (2016), remake of the 1977 film of the same name in which Lowery proved to have been fed with tons of Spielberg, and so it is now with Peter Pan & Wendy. The question falls on its head: again the owners of the most famous castle in the world groping Uncle Walt’s animated gems to bring them to the present with actors and an arsenal of special effects? It is, indeed, a new link in that increasingly long chain of live action remakes of the company’s classics, the same chain that will be joined at the end of the month by The Little Mermaid. The fact that the main character there is a brunette instead of keeping the original features of the 1989 animated film only turns on the warning lights in the face of a potential avalanche of political correctness. Here it is different, perhaps because, being a project designed and launched directly on the Disney+ platform, there were fewer mandates, agendas and executives involved.

Peter Pan & Wendy: A Return to Storytelling in a World of Visual Effects

The result is, then, a film “like the ones of yesteryear”, made by someone who knows very well that he is talking to a young audience and that visual effects can be very nice, but if he does not put them at the service of the story, they make no sense. As in The Green Knight, Lowery’s previous film, and as he learned well from Spielberg, in Peter Pan & Wendy fantasy coexists with adventure and the dramatic components that come from the relationship between time and its effects and expectations. This is what will happen to Wendy (Ever Anderson) and her younger siblings during their journey to Neverland, hand in hand with the boy who never grows up and the little fairy Tinker Bell, who for those reasons of globalization has been called Tinker Bell for years.

Peter Pan & Wendy: A Dark and Magical Adventure with David Lowery’s Signature Touch

Peter (Alexander Molony) and the fairy arrive at the London home of the Darling family after an unhappy night between the boys and mom and dad (Molly Parker and Alan Tudyk). Once the disbelief is overcome, and with the inevitable attempts at flying bearing their first fruits, the kids arrive at a place that Lowery imagines to be dark and gloomy – happiness and magic do not always go hand in hand – and where they end up falling into the hands (in the hand and the hook, rather) of the evil Captain Hook (an unrecognizable Jude Law). Peter will have to face not only that pirate, but also the memories and sorrows of a painful and tragic past. Fringes that add complexity to a film that, in other hands, would have been very different from what it finally is.

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