Who knew that letting kids simply touch green grass instead of green screens and asphalt of studio backlots would generate such results? Apparently director and co-writer David Lowery didn't get enough of wandering in the wild with 'The Green Knight' so we shall return. Peter Pan & Wendy, a reimagining of 1953's animated classic 'Peter Pan' and adaptation of J.M. Barrie's novel of the same name, attempts to save Disney's remake frenzy from further embarrassment in terms of their quality or necessity. Wendy Darling (Ever Anderson) is once again a young girl who, along with her brothers John (Joshua Pickering) and Michael (Jacobi Jupe), travels to Neverland with Peter Pan (Alexander Molony) where they are refusing to grow up and are later threatened by Captain Hook (Jude Law) and his pirate crew.
The opening of this particular story is quite difficult to make engaging as it requires some exposition, wonderment and even ignoring basic rules of human interaction—kidnapping children is, in fact, quite creepy—but Lowery and co-writer Toby Halbrooks are wise to not spend too much energy on it. They do manage to find right frequencies for a story about kids exploring parts of growing up whether they realise it or not, that also carries over to Lowery's direction which mixes fun adventure with scarier elements effectively.
There's a feeling of ease which lets Lowery's young cast, led by Anderson and newcomer Molony, to often genuinely act like they're just kids having fun, rather than being child actors working for the camera. Alyssa Wapanatâhk's character Tiger Lily also stands as an improvement on the original as the character is introduced and rewritten with a humane touch. Debra Zane and Dylan Jury's casting expertise clearly plays a big part since there isn't a single kid or an adult whose talents are lacking compared to others.
It's not usually fun to touch on the internet's reactions to a film's visual storytelling but in this case it feels important to note that Bojan Bazelli's photography proves naysayers wrong. The way that it captures beautiful surroundings earns characters' time when you intentionally make indoor spaces seem cold, drab and uninviting, giving them a reason to explore outdoors where natural light, greenery and the sea are skilfully combined with visual effects and handsome production design by Jade Healy. It's that sort of intention which makes the film feel like it has something worth reimagining and doesn't exist just as a cash cow. Same lovely themes about growing up are still there (mostly for kids), now we just have a new way to look at them.
Smileys: Cinematography, tone
Frowneys: Nothing too awful
Rule 44: No tick-tocking