Rob Reviews "Wendy"
Benh Zeitlin made headlines in 2012 for his Academy Award nominated film, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” but has been quiet since then. Well friends, he has returned to the big screen with an independent film named “Wendy,” and I am not quite sure about it to be honest.
This is an alternate telling of the “Peter Pan” story, set in the rural south as the title character (played by Devin France) and her twin brothers, Douglas (Gage Naquin) and James (Gavin Naquin) live in a small apartment above the railroad stop diner run by their mother, Angela (Shay Walker). In the middle of the night, they see a young boy riding on top of a train (Yashua Mack), who leads them to a remote island where children do not seem to age as long as they believe in the Mother, a creature that lives underneath a volcano that protects them. When things go awry and mysterious pasts are revealed, this belief is truly put to the test.
I’m just going to put this out there on front street: this is NOT one to take the kids to. Unlike the Disney film, “Hook,” or any other telling in between, this is a VERY dark take on this tale. With different levels of violence and adult themes of fighting being old and even death itself, this plays out more like an adult line of graphic novels more than it works as a bedtime story. The story itself is enhanced by a fully unknown cast since a story like this could get bogged down by big names and needs the script itself to drive everything forward versus star power.
There are also some pacing issues that really weighs “Wendy” down, with some plot exposition that really does nothing to advance the story. Admittedly, there are a couple of “I see what you did there” moments that take a nice turn, but it wasn’t really enough for me to bump this any further up my year-to-date list than it sits. This is by no means a bad film; it’s just not a good film.
If the intent in sitting down to see “Wendy” is to find a new way to spend an evening with the family to tell an age-old tale we all grew up with, I would suggest the tried-and-true animated version over this. If you don’t, there is going to be a LOT of questions that will need to be answered before the little ones go to slumber.