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  • Jennifer Green

Review: Peter Pan & Wendy

There's no shortage of Peter Pan iterations in the world, but this moving film offers a deeper and more female-oriented take than others.


The Disney brand will bring broad audiences to Peter Pan & Wendy, but they might be surprised by the broody aesthetic and contemplative messages of Lowery's adaptation, not to mention its alternate ending. Like Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio, the look and narrative focus of this effort reflects the artistic vision of its director, coupled with a vivid musical score.


You could watch the film only for Barrie's classic tale and the jousting between Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but even with rousing special effects -- for example, turning a boat upside down in the air -- the fight scenes are the least original part of this film. They might have benefitted from a bit more humor, like the note struck in a late scene where a pirate yawns, "Wake me up when one of them kills the other… again."


Instead, the film's title could well have been Wendy & Peter Pan. Or even Wendy, Tinker Bell, Tiger Lily & Peter Pan. Anderson, in particular, is dazzling as the story's essential character who discovers her own strength over the course of the film.


In this magical world, the girls have the power and represent key character traits needed to ultimately save the boys in their lives. Neverland belongs to the matriarchs of the native Cree-speaking community. The boys and men, meanwhile, suffer from premature detachment from their mothers.


This Peter Pan is not just about growing up, it's about growing up right. It's not about a childhood adventure, it's about facing the adventure of life head-on (retaining the magic of childhood, if possible). The tale ends on a melancholy note of resignation, including a condensed montage where Wendy envisions the arc of her whole life. Characters either can't go back or must go forward.


 

Read the full review at Common Sense Media.

Images courtesy of Disney+.

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