Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
Academy Award nominee Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) returns with WENDY, which once again centers on a young female character. Almost eight years in the making, this Movie reinvents the classic Peter Pan fairy tale but from Wendy’s viewpoint. Co-written with Zeitlin’s sister, Eliza, all the well-known elements are still there: Captain Hook, the Lost Boys, the mysterious island. Performed by stunningly-photogenic amateur Child Actors, Cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grovlen captures vibrantly the exquisite locales and the underwater scenes are vivid.
The concept of reimagining a timeless tale is catnip to me, whether they be a musical adaptation, a gender swap or a modernized version of a Shakespeare play, I wholeheartedly welcome a new way to experience something that I am already familiar with. I genuinely appreciated the earnest and skilled performances of the youngsters, especially from the charismatic Devin France in the titular role. But through no fault of the obviously-gifted kids, the Movie fails due to its scripted words. Though before Wendy and her brothers hook-up with Peter, the banter between the siblings was genuinely real and funny. Afterwards, it was not dialogue nor conversations – it was platitudes piled onto more platitudes. The constant repetition of hearing about not wanting to grow-up or asking if there anything better than a mother’s love ultimately became grating. Despite failing to maintain my attention, my eyes feasted on the magical visuals captured gloriously with Terrence Malick-like cinematic sensibilities.
It is tough to say if its younger audience while connect to Wendy, while also the action sequences are few and far between so we’re unsure if an older audience also will connect as well.
Searchlight Pictures release WENDY Friday, March 6, 2020.