Posted May 28, 2012 by Misha Wallace - Social Media Editor in DVD/Blu-ray
 
 

Neverland


J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan remains one of the most well-known and loved children’s stories of all time, so much so that many a production company have attempted an adaptation.

J.M. Barrie’s Peter
Pan remains one of the most well-known and loved children’s stories of all time,
so much so that many a production company have attempted an adaptation
. Disney released their popular animated
version in 1953, Robin Williams
donned the tights for Hook in 1991, a
true to the original adaptation arrived in 2003 with Peter Pan and Finding
Neverland
provided us with a dream-like version with Freddie Highmore and Johnny
Depp
in 2004. Everyone knows
well the adventures of Peter, Captain Hook, Tinker Bell, Tiger Lily and of
course, the Crocodile, but how did ordinary boy, Peter come to be The Boy Who
Never Grew Up? Neverland, made for television as a
mini-series and directed by Nick Willing
explains just that, giving us the background story of Peter and his very first
encounter with the magical world of Neverland.

In a post-Dickens
Victorian London of 1906, Peter (Charlie
Rowe
) and his ‘crew’ of orphans survive Oliver Twist style by pickpocketing from strangers and living under
the wing of fencing master, Jimmy Hook (Rhys
Ifans
). Peter hears of Hook’s
plans to steal a magical orb that is believed to be the gateway to another
world. To prove his worth to the
only father figure in his life, Peter decides to lead his crew to snatch the
orb, but all does not go to plan and when Hook discovers them, he and the boys
are all transported to the mysterious world of Neverland. Neverland is a fantastical world where characters
who have been whisked there from different points in time live in eternal
youth. It is a land of magical
tree spirits, fearsome, giant crocodiles and a vast landscape of forests, caves
and sea. The Native American Kaw
tribe protect the secrets of the gentle tree spirits from a ruthless band of
pirates, led by Captain Elizabeth Bonny (Anna
Friel
). The arrival of Hook,
Peter and the Lost Boys is the trigger for a war between the natives of the
land and so the adventure begins.

In the film, Neverland itself has a dream-like quality of an
illustration or painting from a storybook. When Hook, Peter and the Lost Boys first reach this new world,
the seemingly theatrical backdrop is like a cross between the world of Narnia and a Maurice Sendak illustration.
Although Neverland has the feel of a movie, you are still always aware
that it is television. Almost all
of the action is filmed using green screen with extensive visual effects added
later. The end result is not
spectacular, but a darn good result for television and still pretty
effective.

Willing has tried something a little different here and this
has led to some fantastic characterisation. Ifans is a very convincing Hook, as he evolves through the
film from protective foster father into the dreaded power-hungry Captain. Others to look out for are Bob Hoskins reprising his role as Smee and
Charles Dance as Dr Richard Flood,
the man who knows much about the secrets of Neverland. However there is something lacking in a
few of the characters. Newcomers
Charlie Rowe and Q’orianka Kilcher fit
snugly into their roles of Peter and Tiger Lily respectively, but both leave
you wanting something more. They
need to pack more of a punch when playing two of the most bold and spirited
characters from the story. Keira Knightley provides the voice of
Tinker Bell, which she does well, but the character as a whole does not really
fit. We do not necessarily need a
stereotypical, cutesy Disney ‘Tink,’ but this character definitely needs a bit
more zing as one of the original favourites. Friel’s character of the female pirate captain is an intriguing
idea, but unfortunately, her portrayal is not very believable.

There is no shortage of extras on this DVD and they all
provide an interesting background into the thought behind the film and the
production. Neverland calls itself
‘a journey back to where it all began’ and indeed it is. There is plenty of action and
adventure, faithfulness to the original story and an explanation for
everything. It is no blockbuster
movie, but it does achieve what it set out to do. If you are curious as to how the characters from Peter Pan
came to be, then this is an interesting and swashbuckling prequel to this
timeless tale of adventure.


Misha Wallace - Social Media Editor

 
From the age of 4, Misha Wallace became transfixed by movies like Halloween and The Birds from behind the couch, unbeknownst to her family. This has developed in to an obsession with fantasy and horror films (and a considerable number of cheesy 80s and 90s flicks – but she will not be judged). If she was a character in a film she'd be the girl at the end of a horror movie, doused in blood but grinning victorious. Email: misha.wallace@filmjuice.com or find her any time of the day or night on FilmJuice social media.