Peter Pan & Wendy live-action lacks spirit but reveals an unexpected backstory

The remake retains some essence of the original but struggles to capture the mirth and childlike wonder of the characters.

Dini Qistina Binte Ali

You can find me in record stores even though I don’t own a record player.

Published: 3 May 2023, 5:09 PM

Disclaimer: Spoilers ahead

Disney+ has released Peter Pan & Wendy, a live-action remake of the original Peter Pan film that premiered in 1953. 

The original storyline follows the witty Peter Pan and his fairy Tinker Bell who whisk away Wendy Darling and her siblings – Michael and John – to Neverland where they face Peter’s sworn enemy, Captain Hook.

The remake retains some essence of the original but struggles to capture the mirth and childlike wonder of the characters.

The first thing that stood out to me was Peter Pan’s stoic and reserved personality, which is a stark difference to that of the original’s blithe and mischievous character.

Wendy Darling and her siblings also agree, a little too eagerly, to follow Peter Pan and fly to Neverland with their newly granted flying abilities.


Wendy is set to leave for boarding school, a detail I find disorienting because she is presumably younger in the original film. PHOTO CREDIT: DISNEY+ SINGAPORE


This puzzled me, because isn’t Wendy Darling supposed to be hesitant in tagging along in fear of abandoning and forgetting her parents?

These little nuances from the original story are lost in the beginning, which immediately lowered my expectations. After all, the devil is in the details. 

Fully expecting a stubborn and possessive fairy to instigate a series of issues that are vital to the plot, I felt Tinker Bell – played by Yara Shahidi – was surprisingly docile and pleasant.

In the original, Tinker Bell pulls Wendy’s hair to stop her from kissing Peter Pan. However, in this remake, she does nothing of the sort. She voluntarily blows pixie dust on Wendy to make her fly instead.


While I adored her graceful demeanour, the lack of personality rendered Tinker Bell’s character insignificant and bland. PHOTO CREDIT: DISNEY+ SINGAPORE


However, not all changes are bad. Some are welcome, like the ones that did little to take away the essence of the original story. In fact, they add to the character development and worldbuilding. 

For example, Tiger Lily’s character is played by a Native American actress, Alyssa Wapanatâhk. It is evident in this remake that Disney has learned from their past history of cultural appropriation and offensive racial caricatures.

The indigenous character is portrayed with respect and dignity as she should be.


Tiger Lily’s character helped to advance the plot, but I was hoping to see more of her tribe. PHOTO CREDIT: DISNEY+ SINGAPORE


Another change that I found pleasant was the gender diversity in The Lost Boys. Instead of it comprising all boys – like the name suggests – the group includes tenacious young girls as well.

The later half of the movie explores the relationship between Peter Pan and Captain Hook, as well as the reason behind their long-term animosity. 

You can imagine my surprise when it was revealed they used to be best friends, and Captain Hook was the first Lost Boy. 

The evil and seemingly incorrigible villain opens up about his tragic past for the first time. 

Despite their initial close-knitted relationship, Peter Pan banished Captain Hook from Neverland all because he missed his mother. He almost perished at sea if not for his loyal boatswain, Smee.


I never imagined that I would sympathise with Captain Hook but his backstory was nothing short of heartbreaking. Jude Law beautifully embodies the captain’s bitterness and grief. PHOTO CREDIT: DISNEY+ SINGAPORE


Director David Lowery hit the jackpot for incorporating this creative decision as it adds more dimension to the otherwise flat storyline. 

Of course, the movie would not be what it is if not for the action-packed scenes. It is worth mentioning that the fighting choreography is well-done, especially in the final duel between Peter Pan and Captain Hook. 

The clanging of swords feels almost poetic: a fight between two former best friends who are simply misunderstood. 

Overall, the remake is a modern version of the 1953 film with proper representation and epic action scenes, suitable for all ages to enjoy.

However, if you are expecting a playful Peter Pan frolicking across the screen or a comfortable movie pacing, this live-action may be a little disappointing.

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