Once again, the team at Disney has taken it upon themselves to take one of their animated classics and make a live-action remake of it. This time, it’s Peter Pan. Unlike some of the other “re-imagined” live-action films, Peter Pan & Wendy gives filmmakers less of a challenge since the majority of the characters involved are humans (or at least human-shaped).
But is this a movie that anyone really asked to be remade again? It’s been countless times, and even twice in the last few years with Wendy and Come Away both coming out in 2020. The story has been told, over and over again, and of all of the fairytales Disney has produced, may be one of their easiest to recreate with actors. But, quickly, Peter Pan & Wendy has joined the list of stories they didn’t need to reboot and it’s understandable why this movie is going direct to streaming.
Peter Pan & Wendy tells the same story we’ve seen on stage, animated and told over and over again. Peter Pan comes into the Darling children’s bedroom window and whisks them off to Neverland where the Lost Boys and Captain Hook and his crew of pirates. The movie does do a good job of diversifying the cast that fans will remember from the original animated movie, but the opportunity to expand the world or the characters much past what we’ve seen countless times before.
One potentially controversial character, Tiger Lily, is still part of the cast. Albeit, her appearance in this version of Peter Pan & Wendy isn’t racially charged like the cartoon version, however, her character still has some issues. Several times throughout the film, Tiger Lily is speaking her native tongue. The Lost Boys often understand her completely due to the pixie dust magic, but the directors decided to pick and choose what parts of her dialogue will be given subtitles throughout the film. A similar decision was made in Jungle Cruise with the reasoning it would “give a more authentic” experience. This seems to be a major misstep with a global audience, and the limited amount of Indigenous speakers even within our own country.
The movie does offer a few more magical moments added to the story, and one potentially new twist to the story. However, these new additions and a bit more artistic shots seem to add over 30 minutes to the original runtime compared to the animated movie. Will this make or break the direct-to-streaming movie? Most likely not, but it isn’t the short animated movie kids are used to watching and the additions may even make older viewers get bored along the way.
What seems like it could have been a new, bolder retelling of the story by Jame Barrie, instead just another live-action film with a bloated time without anything really new added to the story or the reason to watch it. If Disney continues to recreate every animated movie they’ve released just with a few moments to add to the run time – audiences are going to continue to complain about them. It’s already obvious there is growing fatigue for the live-action reboots of every movie and every story in the Disney library, and while diversifying the cast and even introducing it to another generation may be a great idea, maybe an additional effort to make it different enough is worth a try.
Peter Pan & Wendy will be streaming on Disney+ starting today.
About Peter Pan & Wendy:
“Peter Pan & Wendy” introduces Wendy Darling, a young girl afraid to leave her childhood home behind, who meets Peter Pan, a boy who refuses to grow up. Alongside her brothers and a tiny fairy, Tinker Bell, she travels with Peter to the magical world of Neverland. There, she encounters an evil pirate captain, Captain Hook, and embarks on a thrilling and dangerous adventure that will change her life forever. The film stars Jude Law (“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”), Alexander Molony (“The Reluctant Landlord”), Ever Anderson (“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter”), Yara Shahidi (“Grown-ish”), Alyssa Wapanatâhk, Joshua Pickering (“A Discovery of Witches”), Jacobi Jupe, Molly Parker (“House of Cards”), Alan Tudyk (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”), and Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”).