Review: ‘Peter Pan & Wendy’ is both whimsical and sincere

Peter Pan & Wendy is a must-watch for fans of the beloved classic. It’s a heartwarming and whimsical adventure grounded in friendship and fueled by happy thoughts and pixie dust. For families with kids, it’s the perfect movie night pick. The movie is a sincere take on the classic Barrie story and is elevated by the acting of the talented cast, especially that of Ever Anderson as Wendy. 

Peter Pan & Wendy is a live-action reimagining of the classic J.M. Barrie novel. It’s directed by David Lowery, who also directed the medieval fantasy film The Green Knight and Pete’s Dragon. The film stars Alexander Molony as Peter Pan, Ever Anderson as Wendy Darling, and Jude Law as Captain Hook.

Wendy Darling is a young girl who doesn’t want to grow up. She loves her childhood home and family but fears the future and thinks that adulthood will end her adventures. One night, she meets a fairy named Tinker Bell (Yara Shahidi) and a boy named Peter Pan – bedtime stories come to life. 

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.


Peter and Tinker Bell take Wendy and her brothers to the magical world of Neverland via “second star to the right and straight on till morning.” As soon as they get to Neverland, Wendy, Peter, and the rest are immediately beset by Hook’s pirates, who are after vengeance. Hook and Peter have a history. The pirate attack starts an adventure that includes Tiger Lilly (Alyssa Wapanatâhk) and the Lost Boys (and girls!) 

Ever Anderson deserves all the praise.

The cast for Peter Pan & Wendy is excellent, but Ever Anderson stands out. I think this movie could rightfully be called “Wendy” based on her performance. She brings such warmth, intelligence, and humor to the role of Wendy Darling. Anderson perfectly captures Wendy’s sense of adventure mixed with a bit of defiance, her love for her family, and her determination to do what’s right. Anderson has terrific, friendly chemistry with her co-stars, especially Alexander Molony as Peter Pan.

Ever Anderson as Wendy in Disney’s live-action PETER PAN & WENDY, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Eric Zachanowich. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Let’s talk about the color

The color and lighting of Peter Pan & Wendy is paler and less saturated than in most modern films, and it’s been bizarrely maligned online for it. The organic color palette is a welcome change, allowing the audience to see the characters and their world more clearly. The muted colors also create a more realistic and believable atmosphere for the period fantasy. In some ways, the palette reminds me of Outlander and Transatlantic. 

There has been a trend toward darker and more saturated colors in films recently. (I’m looking at you, Marvel!) Because things in these big tent pole films are so dark, you don’t get to see all the cool things the crew has worked on to bring the story to life. You don’t get to appreciate the production design, the costume design, or the set design. 

Alexander Molony as Peter Pan in Disney’s live-action PETER PAN & WENDY, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Eric Zachanowich. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


In Peter Pan & WendyLowery, and the team have chosen to use a more muted and organic color palette and lighting style, which allows the audience to see everything more clearly. It’s refreshing. Seeing the things allows me to appreciate the care that went into crafting and the actual physical world-building that went into creating the movie. I loved spotting all the little details – from Peter’s home in Neverland to Hook’s cabin. 

Peter Pan & Wendy is set in the past – the early 20th century, aka Edwardian London, if it’s consistent with prior works – and the filmmakers have done an excellent job of recreating the look and feel of that era. The aesthetic they’ve created works and doesn’t look cookie-cutter – it’s visually appealing. It’s memorable and whimsical and helps place the adaptation in our cultural memory, much like Hook’s iconic look. 

Family-friendly film 

Finding age-appropriate movies to watch with your kids can be a challenge. You want something fun and engaging but not too scary or violent. You also (hopefully) want something that will teach your kids valuable lessons about life. There’s a whisper/text/Facebook network among moms and dads about their kids’ reactions to whatever we just saw – and if we’d recommend other kids see it. Peter Pan & Wendy passes the parent test with flying colors. I wish it had been on the big screen, and keeping it as a streaming release is a missed opportunity. 

A casual look at the fare of my local movie theater this weekend shows just one family-friendly film – the Super Mario Brothers movie if you want to go out and take your kids to the movies. Peter Pan & Wendy would have been a great option in theaters. Instead, moviegoers only get to appreciate some of the visual beauty of things like flying through Edwardian London at night, which is a shame. 

Peter Pan & Wendy has a positive message that it delivers with sincerity – it provides a testament to the deepness of friendship and forgiveness, even after a lot of time and history has passed. It’s a slightly different spin on the classic Hook/Peter relationship and is all the more valuable because of it. 

Wendy’s messaging 

Wendy’s message is also worth noting because it uplifts those who may be scared about the next chapter of their life. It holds relevance not just for children about to go away from home to school but anyone on the cusp of a new life stage. Peter Pan & Wendy also gives a much-needed update to Tiger Lily, offering her character a more authentic and sensitive story. 

I also want to praise the “scary” elements of the movie from a parenting perspective. They’re thoughtful and invite deeper conversation. It’s not gory and is more old-school “G” movie goodness. Peter Pan & Wendy is an easy win for parents. 

Sea Shanties galore

If you spent time on the internet during the pandemic, you probably came across sea-shanty TikTok. I don’t know how to explain it – but it’s one of those things you had to be there for to truly appreciate. The music for Peter Pan & Wendy is glorious, but the included sea shanties were genuinely perfect and made me smile. “Ode to the Falling” by Curtis Glenn Heath, in particular, is catchy as all get out and reminds me of that time. 

Final thoughts

Peter Pan & Wendy is a magical and enchanting film that will capture the hearts of audiences of all ages and is an excellent choice for family movie night. This heartwarming and whimsical adventure is a lovely live-action version of a classic story. Peter Pan & Wendy is beautifully shot with an organic feel that makes Neverland feel real. The cast is also excellent, with Ever Anderson giving a standout performance as Wendy. If you’re looking for a film that will make you believe in magic, Peter Pan & Wendy is a must-see.

Peter Pan & Wendy is now streaming on Disney+.

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