Neverland (TV, 2012)
A DVD review from rom SFX #223.
DVD Two and a half stars
Extras: Three and a half stars
2011 * 12 * 162 minutes
Director: Nick Willer
Cast: Charlie Rowe, Rhys Ifan, Anna Friel, Bob Hoskins, Charles Dance
Peter Pan prequel doesn’t fly
What is it with this constant need to reinvent popular icons? Have we become imaginatively bankrupt? And why do we need to put an inferior modern stamp on classics while doing so? Neverland is the latest in a growing run of such, ahem, entertainments.
A prequel/ reimagining (shudder) of Barrie’s beloved tale, Neverland has some merits. There’s an obvious amount of money been spent on great sets and costumes (although some of the CG is dreadful), Charlie Rowe is a very good Peter, and there’s a measure of directorial flair from Willer.
The same can’t be said of his script. Neverland is a fundamentally magical place; Willer’s reductionist attempt to explain how it works steals much of this magic away. Borrowing tedious tropes from fatbook fantasy and the shallower end of SF, the story makes Neverland into an alien planet, introduces wizards, and has Hook and Peter enjoy a confused Vader/Luke relationship. Locales like Neverland and Oz are marvellous because of their illogicality; as with a magician’s trick, you can’t get lift the curtain on their workings and expect them to hold up as well.
There are simpler flaws evident in the narrative. The story is saggy, and when not held in thrall to Willer’s sensawunda-murdering infodumps, repetitive. What should have been enthralling is often tedious.
An ill-advised attempt that entirely misses the point.
Extras: Two two-part documentaries, four interviews (Dance, Friel, and two with Willer). Not a bad amount, but they tend to celebratory puff rather than incisiveness. Guy Haley
Did you know?
Barrie’s Hook was a pirate and one-time associate of Blackbeard, Willer has him recast as a disgraced 19th century aristocrat muddled up in occult doings.