‘Wendy’ Review: Benh Zeitlin Follows ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ With a Gorgeous Reinvention of Peter Pan

‘Wendy’ Review: Benh Zeitlin Follows ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ With a Gorgeous Reinvention of Peter Pan
The lyrical whimsy of 2012 breakout “Beasts of the Southern Wild” owed some measure of influence to “Peter Pan,” so it’s no surprise the classic tale of a boy who won’t grow up provides the foundation for director Benh Zeitlin’s long-awaited followup, “Wendy.” Seven years have passed since “Beasts” became a surprise cultural phenomenon, blending evocative visuals and an imaginative swampy backdrop with complex emotional themes. It seems Zeitlin has been trapped in a Neverland of his own making all along, because “Wendy” feels as if no time has passed at all.

Zeitlin’s wondrous “Pan” riff feels like such a natural continuation of the “Beasts” experience that it practically unfolds in the same immersive universe — pensive voiceover paired with overwhelming, expressionistic bursts of storybook imagery — taking this unusual epic into abstract places where fantasy gives way to the ominous challenges of the adult world.

As usual, mileage
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