I don’t think many of us would say we were in need of yet another Peter Pan movie. Nor did we need Disney to remake another one of its classic animated tales. But here we are. Walt Disney Pictures will be releasing Peter Pan & Wendy, a live-action reimagining of both the J.M. Barrie novel and the 1953 cartoon classic film on Disney+. From the trailer, this looks like it will be really good. Then again, so did the recent version of Pinocchio and look how that turned out.
Disney says, “Get ready to experience the timeless adventure featuring the beloved characters like never before” and that worries me. Peter Pan is a beloved story just as it is. Does it need to be fixed? Yes, the animated tale does feature some embarrassing and outdated stereotypes of indigenous people and I can see that this movie might sort of be a way for the studio to right this wrong from long ago. I’m just fine with that. I’m also okay with Yara Shahidi playing Tinkerbell instead of a blond-haired actress. And I’m okay with the addition of “lost girls” accompanying the “lost boys” to the story too. What I’m afraid of is that Disney will try too hard trying to make everyone happy that none of us will be with the end product. That fear may be unfounded, but anytime you touch something that is “sacred” you’re bound to make a few fans nervous.
(Walt Disney Pictures)
Directed by David Lowery (who directed the underappreciated live action version of Pete’s Dragon), Peter Pan & Wendy will no doubt devote more screen time to Wendy. In this version of the story, Wendy (played by Ever Anderson) is a young girl who is afraid to leave her childhood home behind while meeting Peter Pan (Alexander Molony), a boy who refuses to grow up. Alongside her brothers John (Joshua Pickering), Michael (Jacobi Jupe) and the well-known fairy, Tinker Bell (Yara Shahidi), Wendy travels with Peter to the magical world of Neverland. There, she encounters an evil pirate captain, Captain Hook (Jude Law) and embarks on a thrilling and dangerous adventure that will change her life forever.
Peter Pan & Wendy also stars Jim Gaffigan as Smee (an inspired choice), Alan Tudyk as Mr. Darling, Molly Parker as Mrs. Darling and Alyssa Wapanatâhk as Tiger Lily.
David Lowery (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Adam Borba) says, “In making Peter Pan & Wendy, we set out to craft a film that honors both the original J.M. Barrie text and Walt Disney’s animated adaptation; we wanted to invigorate our retelling with emotional sincerity, an open heart, and a grand yearning for adventure. Hundreds of incredible artists spent many years bringing this film to the screen; I’m excited for audiences to see their work, to go on this ride, and to rediscover an evergreen tale from a new perspective.”
That sounds good to me and I’ll keep an open mind. Still, the fact that the movie is going straight to the streaming service and not to theaters first isn’t exactly good sign. Peter Pan & Wendy begins streaming on Disney+ on April 28.
(All images: Walt Disney Studios)
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