It's been eight years since director Benh Zeitlin burst on the scene with the beautiful cinematic experience "Beasts of the Southern Wild."
Now we finally get the follow-up "Wendy," based loosely on the "Peter Pan" story. Like "Beasts" "Wendy" is a beautiful looking film told through the innocent eyes of children, with a hypnotic score and impressive look. But "Wendy" lacks the same magic as its predecessor, a film that feels like Zeitlin is trying to catch lightning in a bottle again.
The film is told from the perspective of Wendy (Devin France), who - along with her brothers - disappear on a train one night with a young boy named Peter (Yashua Mack).
Peter whisks the trio away to a mysterious island where time seemingly stands still and the children run the island with youthful glee.
But Wendy soon learns the island has its secrets, and everything is not what it seems to be.
Watching "Wendy" it is clear that Zeitlin has a gift for creating impressive cinematic poetry that really puts the audience inside this world. Sturla Brandth Grøvlen's cinematography is spectacular, with every frame bursting with life and color.
France is also quite good in the title role, in a performance that commands the screen nearly as much as Quvenzhané Wallis did in "Beasts." France makes you care what is happening even when the film seems to go astray.
And that tends to happen a lot -as the screenplay lacks focus. The tone is also off, with "Wendy" way to dark at times for a film that is about holding on to childhood innocence.
By the time "Wendy" reaches its final act - and a familiar character surfaces - it's apparent that Zeitlin's film is all style and very little substance, a "Peter Pan" story that never takes flight.