By: Russ Matthews
Peter Pan has captured imaginations throughout the past century. J. M. Barrie’s original tale of the boy who wouldn’t grow up has managed to captivate audiences from the stage to the big screen and inspire countless books, comic books, and television shows.
His life in Neverland has touched the hearts of multiple generations, and many may not think there is any need for more stories. Yet, the beauty of classic stories is that there are always ways to reimagine them for the latest era, and this is what Disney hopes to do with this newest adventure, Peter Pan & Wendy.
The film opens with J. M. Barrie’s familiar narrative of the Darling household as Wendy (Ever Anderson) prepares to head off to boarding school to begin her next season of ‘growing up.’ Along with Michael (Jacobi Jupe) and John (Joshua Pickering), audiences will find comfort in seeing that all of the main characters are included, such as Peter Pan (Alexander Molony) and Tinkerbell (Yara Shahidi). Things change from the initial production stage as the children and the fairy head to Neverland. Not to be concerned, Captain Hook (Jude Law), Smee (Jim Gaffigan), and the Lost Boys remain. At the same time, Tiger Lily (Alyssa Wapanatahk) becomes a more prominent character. Significant changes are seen in Pan and Hook’s relationship and the darker hues of the visual effects. This will satisfy the faithful viewer and allow new elements to add freshness to this beloved children’s story.
Most may ask if there is a need for another Peter Pan film, and this query is entirely justified, especially since one of the classic retellings of his story is the Disney animated version. Yet, despite its familiarity with the story, there is always room for introducing a new audience to these characters. This version does play around with the cultural representation of the cast. Still, none of this distracts from the film and adds richness to this visual element. As a Disney production, this version remains accessible to families without removing the original messaging of Barrie’s work. Due to the advances in filmmaking, this adaptation is visually captivating, and the cast fulfils their roles with the appeal needed to capture children’s imaginations. Some changes develop and humanise many characters that complement the storyline and freshen things for modern audiences.
What do Parents Need to Know?
What do parents need to know about Peter Pan & Wendy? A few changes to the original tale do not deserve any actual warning. Still, this version does lean into the darker side of the Peter Pan narrative. This means that this interpretation may not connect with younger viewers under five. Wendy and Tiger Lily take some of the limelight from the heroics of Peter without diminishing his impact on the overall story. The movie does contain some new songs and interpretations of beloved characters. Still, in the end, parents should be able to love this film along with their family.
Reel Dialogue: What will parents discuss after watching Peter Pan & Wendy?
Can a villain change? Without spoiling the film, one topic that has come up throughout many Disney productions is changing the two-dimensional side of many villains and making them human. From Maleficent to Cruella, audiences have come to terms with the notion that many classic villains can change or may have an excuse for their devious ways.
This begs the question of whether anyone can change from their former ways of living? One great example from the Bible is Saul from the New Testament. He was a man who saw his actions as righteous and justified, but he was known for persecuting and killing many Christians during his day. One day, he is confronted on the road by Jesus and through this supernatural meeting, he is changed to being one of the most celebrated forefathers of the Christian faith.
Paul’s story and other villains who have turned from their evil ways should give us all hope. Yet, the Biblical one is not a fairy tale, but shows how people can change their practices. Their stories mean there is hope for us all.
Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.
All images: Movie stills
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.