Disney has dropped the latest trailer for its Peter Pan and Wendy movie, which launches on Disney Plus on April 28, 2023 – and the mix of swashbuckling action, a growling Jude Law, and tons great shots of flying people/ships has officially captured my interest.
It already had my attention, purely because it's directed and co-written by David Lowery, who also wrote and directed the fantastic The Green Knight, which the new Disney movie seems to share some themes with. But you never know how much of a director will get to come through in a big Disney project, and it looks like there's plenty of Lowery in there, mercifully.
The movie looks like what you'd expect from a Peter Pan story that's true to the original: a flying boy (Alexander Molony) and his fairy (Yara Shahidi) take a girl (Ever Anderson) and her brothers on a flying adventure to Neverland, where they encounter the evil Captain Hook (Jude Law). Here's the full-length trailer:
The trailer doesn't look revolutionary, but it doesn't need to be to get me on board. Jude Law's gravel-voiced Hook looks like the perfect balance of theatrical and menacing, there are plenty of clanging sword battles, and the promise of flying kids versus a flying pirate galleon is exactly the kind of grand escapade that live-action movies can do now that they couldn't so easily in the past.
There are also hints at the start and end of the bigger emotional story that all of this is probably going to be wrapped up in – and it's apparently much more personal to the director than you might expect from Disney live-action remakes.
Growing into the story
"It's the most personal thing I've ever made,” writer/director David Lowery told Collider in an interview. “It is, ironically, the most adult movie I've ever made."
Lowery says that the film will expand a lot on the desire to never grow up, particularly in a way that's aimed to kids. That's obviously nothing new, and has been picked up in basically every Peter Pan movie to date – even Hook, which focuses on an adult Peter, is about regretting having grown up too much.
But the specific apprehensions that kids have about growing up change over time, as the culture changes around them. If Lowery and co-writer Toby Halbrooks can successfully focus on the fears young people have today, and give us a moving story of kids learning that change is natural and an okay thing, this could be one of the best Disney Plus movies of the year.
Lowery was apparently also able to bring much of the creative team from The Green Knight on board, which also makes me think that it could be a hidden gem.
That movie was in my personal top five of 2021 (it's one of the best Prime Video movies in the UK, though isn't on the service in the US), and it's a fantastic-looking movie, with some stunning and slightly 'off' landscapes punctuating the whole thing. As I mentioned above, the two movies seem to share some similar themes, despite The Green Knight being a gritty, surreal medieval movie.
It follows a knight who, in trying to impress his father, creates a prophecy that he must die on a known date, in a known place, in a known way. The movie follows his journey there, aware the whole time that all that awaits him is death, but learning to cherish the honor in it. This idea of accepting and embracing the inevitability of the future seems to be what these two movies share.
I'm looking forward to seeing whether Peter Pan and Wendy lives up to my lofty expectations when it launches as one of April's new Disney Plus movies on the 28th.