Is it worth watching Peter Pan and Wendy on Disney+?

Yara Shahidi as Tinker Bell in Disney's live-action PETER PAN & WENDY, exclusively on Disney+.  Photo courtesy of Disney.  © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

Yara Shahidi as Tinkerbell in Peter Pan and Wendy. (Disney+)

  • 🎞️ When Peter Pan & Wendy comes out: Streaming on Disney+ from Friday, April 28

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 3/5

  • 🎭 Who’s in it? Alexander Molony, Ever Anderson, Jude Law, Yara Shahidi, Jim Gaffigan, Alan Tudyk and Molly Parker

  • 👍 What we liked: It offers a new perspective on a family history.

  • 👎 What we didn’t do: Darker themes rob the film’s story of its foundational magic.

  • 📖 What is it about? Defying her parents’ wishes to send her to boarding school, young Wendy Darling meets Peter Pan, a boy who can fly and also refuses to grow up.

  • ⏱️ How long is it? 1 hour and 46 minutes

For its latest live action remake of an animated classic, Disney has turned to an established pair of hands with Peter Pan and Wendy. Usually associated with indie arthouse fare (A Ghost Story/The Green Knight), director David Lowery pays a return visit to the House Of The Mouse after making 2016’s Pete’s Dragon.

This latest outing for the boy who won’t grow up clearly respects both the original novel by JM Barrie and the animation from Disney, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. The storytelling is essentially the same and all the familiar characters are there, from Peter Pan, Wendy and Captain Hook, to Tinker Bell, Smee and, of course, that crocodile. But he’s also not afraid to take both the characters and the audience into entirely new areas.

Watch a clip of Peter Pan and Wendy

Key characters are given backstories that are ripe for exploration, especially one that explains the longstanding animosity between Pan and Hook. While giving the characters more depth, it means other textures are downplayed, so that the crocodile and his menacing ticking clock only appear in a style very reminiscent of a certain great white shark.

They also bring a darkness to the story, so that Hook becomes unexpectedly sympathetic. He had a heart. Who knew? And Jude Law, perhaps not the most obvious choice for the role, perfectly balances villainy with pathos to give our heartstrings a gentle tug or two.

To know more: Peter Pan and Wendy star ‘discouraged’ by growing up

But it also means a stark change of tone, stripping the film of the magic of the original and transforming what is usually thought of as a family film into something much more aimed at adults. Not an entirely comfortable fit.

Jude Law as Captain Hook in Disney's live-action PETER PAN & WENDY, exclusively on Disney+.  Photo by Eric Zachanowich.  © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

Jude Law as Captain Hook in Disney’s live-action Peter Pan & Wendy. (Disney+)

Lowery’s love of history and his flights of fancy are written all over the screen, as is his visual brand of lush green landscapes, most recently seen in The Green Knight. This helps soften the darkness, so the result is close to the fuzzy warmth you’d expect.

To know more: Peter Pan is Disney’s best and worst

And the film marks a definite step in the right direction for a group of films that have, lately, stumbled about meeting the standards of original animation (Pinocchio, we’re looking at you).

All he needed was a good handful of pixie dust.

Peter Pan and Wendy will begin streaming April 28, 2023, only on Disney+.

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