David Lowery, director of indie gems The Green Knight and A Ghost Story, has an interesting sideline as a Disney auteur. After directing 2016 remake Pete’s Dragon, he’s now back at the Mouse House with this live-action take on J.M. Barrie’s classic tale of the boy who wouldn’t grow up.
Primarily taking inspiration from the 1953 Disney animation Peter Pan, Lowery’s film is a jaunty journey – and certainly an improvement on Joe Wright’s laboured 2015 effort Pan. It begins as Wendy Darling (Ever Anderson) reads her little brothers the story of Peter Pan, much to their parents’ chagrin. Then Peter (Alexander Molony) and fairy Tinker Bell (Yara Shahidi) materialise on their doorstep, and the Darlings are whisked off to Neverland, where they’re soon confronting Captain Hook (Jude Law) and his merry band of pirates. They also meet Tiger Lily (Alyssa Wapanatâhk) and the Lost Boys (and Girls, one of the few subtle adjustments made).
The visual effects aren’t exactly top of the range – the Hook-chasing Crocodile, for example, is a curious beast. But Molony’s agile Peter and Law’s soulful Hook - who’s more than just a pantomime villain - make this watchable. And once in a while Lowery pulls something beautiful out of the bag, like a genuinely touching third-act montage. It doesn’t quite have the required depth for adults, but for kids, this Peter Pan flies.
Peter Pan & Wendy is available to stream now on Disney+.