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Neverland
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-ray
Prior to "The Triangle" in 2005, the SyFy network (back when it was actually Sci-fi) tended to produce one great miniseries a year debuting in December. Those early programs were dark, adult, sophisticated, and/or epic in scope and I eagerly awaited each year's entry. We saw the finale of Farscape in "The Peacekeeper Wars," the debut miniseries for "Battlestar Gallactica," the impressive revision of "Dune," its equally ambitious follow-up "Children of Dune" and the biggest and boldest offering to date--the marvelous "Taken." In recent years, SyFy has continued the tradition but with decidedly mixed results. While I've enjoyed most of them, they rarely impress me like the programs I mentioned. Lately, we're getting a lot of literary mash-ups such as 2007's "Tin Man" (Wizard of Oz) and 2009's Alice (Alice in Wonderland), so 2011's riff on the Peter Pan legend entitled "Neverland" seems to fit comfortably into the scheme of things.

Chaotic, anachronistic, and over-stuffed, "Neverland" is filled with great ideas but falls somewhere short of must-see entertainment. I'd still recommend it for its interesting take on Peter Pan, a prequel of sorts, but I doubt it's a program I'll be revisiting anytime soon. For the record, I absolutely loved the premise behind "Neverland." The construction of an alternate world (and how people arrive there) is quite ingenious and well done. I was captivated as the tale introduced its many characters and threw them together in this fanciful, and strangely ominous, land. Treacherous 18th century pirates, wayward English street urchins, noble American Indians all cohabitate with mystical forest sprites and dangerous crocodiles. As the show progresses, we see the myths behind the Peter Pan story come to light and how all these parties helped form the boy who will meet Wendy in future tales. Much of it is quite clever, and at the end of the first part--the show had surely exceeded my expectations. I did, however, feel that the second part lacked some of the wonder and charm that I experienced in the beginning. Maybe if the whole thing had been a bit shorter, it would have felt tighter and more satisfying overall.

The sets have an almost surreal and artificial appeal. They have the feel of animation come to life, and this otherworldly quality keeps "Neverland" visually interesting. The special effects are serviceable, if not spectacular. They are utilized much more as the tale progresses and something about the way Peter flew always struck me as hokey and unconvincing. I did, however, like the crocodiles. The biggest, and most pleasant surprise, was how good the cast was. Rhys Ifans is really terrific as the boys' mentor, Charlie Rowe makes a convincing Peter (he's particularly good in the more serious moments), and Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies) plays against type as a pirate leader. Keira Knightly lends her voice to Tinkerbell and is fine, and the great Bob Hoskins is (once again) underutilized as pirate Smee. The cast is really what makes this a success.

Again, I think if you loved "Tin Man" and "Alice," this absolutely plays to the same sensibilities. It's a good effort and I credit its cleverness in storytelling. Ultimately, it lacked the gravitas of my favorite SyFy miniseries, but I suspect it will find a big audience on DVD. It's pleasant in a family-friendly swashbuckling sort of way. One more shout-out to Ifans, though. I generally like him, but here he added a lot of dimension and shading to what might have been a one-note character. KGHarris, 12/11.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
The SyFy Channel has been doing "reimaginings" of classic public-domain books for the past few years, such as "Tin Man" or "Alice." But "Neverland" is a little different. Rather than reimagining the tale of Peter Pan, this miniseries presents the story of how a street urchin became the flying boy who never grows up, and the beginning of his war with Captain Hook.

In 1906, the fallen arisocrat James "Jimmy" Hook (Rhys Ifans) has collected a gang of young boys who steal things for him, lead by the impish Peter Pan (Charlie Rowe). But when Jimmy and the gang vanish, Peter must use a mysterious black orb to travel into a wholly alien world -- Neverland. In this world, there are silver faeries, a pirate ship, and a lost tribe of Indians.

The pirate captain Elizabeth Bonny (Anna Friel) quickly fascinates Jimmy, especially when she reveals that the fairies have magical dust that allows flight. Peter is horrified by his father figure's betrayal, especially when the pirates kill one of the boys. His only goal is to get back to London, and the only way he knows how is to seek out a hooded man who appears in his dreams with the black orb.

With the help of Aaya (aka Tiger Lily) (Q'orianka Kilcher), Peter ventures into a strange lost city, where he discovers the truth about Neverland. But when the pirates attack and capture the boys and Aaya, Peter must use his newfound powers to save them and defeat Captain Hook...

J.M. Barrie didn't really go into the background of Peter Pan in his original novel -- Peter Pan just sort of EXISTED, like a nature sprite or some forgotten deity. But "Neverland" does do a decent job trying to spin up a backstory for Peter and Captain Hook -- it tries to explain the battle between Hook and Peter, what Neverland is, and how pirates and Indians got to it.

And there is a really whimsical, fantastical air to the story -- silver faeries, fallen comets, eight-legged crocodiles, an orb, and a vast city made of woven trees.. The giant white CGI trees are kind of goofy, though.

But the movie also uses its length to establish the bond between Peter and Hook, which is a genuine connection of father/son love and trust that is corrupted by greed and cruelty. Rowe reminds me of a younger, more expressive Daniel Radcliffe, and Ifans is absolutely brilliant as a complex man who is both cruel and kind, compassionate and utterly ruthless.

And it has a solid cast, with Anna Friel as a cold-heart swashbuckler, Bob Hoskins as Smee, and a bunch of pretty talented kids as the Lost Boys. The one problem is Kilcher, who is so wooden you could saw her into logs, but she's balanced out by a more realistic, well-rounded depiction of the Indians ("Dinner." "You're going to eat us?" "Why, do you taste good?") as shown by Raoul Trujillo and George Aguilar.

"Neverland" is a pretty decent what-if tale about the origins of Peter Pan, which does a fairly good job at explaining Neverland without robbing it of magic. Not the best classic-based miniseries, but a good one.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Have you ever wondered how the pirates came to be in Neverland? Or where Peter first came from? Or the origins of the lost boys? Until now, we were forced to use our imagination to explain these mysteries.

There are worse places to be in London than on the streets in a gang of urchins, and Peter (Charlie Rowe) enjoys playing the leader of a ragtag bunch of pickpockets and petty thieves. Working from the rooftops directing his boys with the use of a flute and reporting to their protector, Jimmy (Rhys Ifans), at night, he has a pretty decent life. There's just one hitch in it -- he wants to be taken seriously. Jimmy has been hired to pull of a major job in a jewelry store and at the last minute decides not to use the boys, but Peter isn't about to let that stop him. He breaks in and discovers more than he bargained for, since the man who hired Jimmy isn't after your usual market-fare wares; he wants an orb responsible for transporting a pirate ship into another world. None of them are aware of the danger and when Jimmy taps the orb, fascinated with the shimmering world in its depths, he and the rest of Peter's friends wind up in Neverland.

Once there, the boys land aboard the pirate ship and the younger children are turned over to Smee (Bob Hoskins) to clean the decks, while the infamous pirate vixen Elizabeth (Anna Friel) takes a shine to Jimmy -- so much so that she shares a few secrets with him, including her desire to bottle fairy dust and figure out how to use it. Meanwhile, back in London Peter finagles the secret of the orb out of the man who was going to buy it (Charles Dance) but his trip into Neverland throws him into the midst of an Indian tribe. What follows are the origins of the classic story as we discover how each character came to Neverland, how Peter befriends Tinkerbell (voiced by Keira Knightley), when and where he and Captain Hook became enemies, and so forth. The result is a lavish four hour miniseries that fares about as well as most things from the SyFy channel -- wonderful ideas with an execution that sometimes isn't quite up to par, but you have to give them credit for sheer imagination.

The cleverness involved here is what works best, winding in elements of Dickens and other classic writers in our initial introduction to familiar figures and then throwing them into the midst of a wondrous place of undiscovered secrets. The history between Captain Hook and Peter is a touching one and the characterization is strong, but it was really the first half that won me over -- traversing the streets of London in a perfect throwback to Oliver Twist, we get to enjoy a bit of a period drama and good old fashioned thieving and sword fighting before we get into the nuances of piracy and the fairy realm. Of course, the acting ranges from wonderful to stilted and awkward; it helps that they have such a solid British adult cast and the boys are not bad, but from time to time everyone delivers a particularly excruciating line, the Indian princess more often than the rest. I loved the costuming and detail of the ship and for the most part the script carries along at a decent pace without too much lagging. It does become a tad absurd in its last twenty minutes, and some have complained about the abrupt, cheeky ending, but I quite liked it.

While there were moments when the bad special effects made me wince, I thought it was a unique and clever twist on a very old story. The characters are marvelous even if they are a tad bit predictable, and it does a good job of explaining some of the unanswered questions in Peter Pan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 25, 2012
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Neverland is as brilliant as it is magical with beautiful imagery and fantastic acting. I truly enjoyed this prequel to the classic fairy tale.

If you ever wondered how Peter Pan ended up in Neverland in the first place and what happened to him before he met Wendy, this movie has all the answers. Peter was a foster child to none other than, James Hook. He and his friends (the lost boys) were theives who would do jobs for Hook in exchange for a roof over their heads, food on the table and clothes on their backs. One job in particular led them to the orb that magically transported all of them, with the exception of Peter, into Neverland. Peter soon follows them to Neverland on a quest to save his friends. There he befriends a tribe of Indians who help him, he rescues his friends from the pirates who have captured them and he meets Tinker Belle who saves his life. He soon discovers who Hook really is and to what extent he would go to get what he wants from Peter.

Overall, I thorougly enjoyed this fun and fantasic tale. This prequel was an exciting and engaging adventure and the perfect addition to a beloved classic. The ending leaves it open for a sequel and I sure would love to see Syfy's take on the classic when Peter meets Wendy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2012
Format: DVD
While this is not quite has good as hook it is an intresting new take on peter pan i will recommend this movie to anyone who likes good stories and for people who liked pirates of the caribbian. This is the second time that hollywood has done something new with peter pan hook was the first one to do something new with peter pan and now this is the second.Just to let everyone know peter does fly in this movie.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2012
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
great movie..really enjoyed it.A history of Peter Pan that I had never heard of or considered before.Seems like there could be MORE movies in between that they could do to catch us up to Peter Pan as we know him.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2012
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I knew that I was going to this movie after I seen it on the SFY channel. If you love the Peter Pan story, you'll will this new twist to this story! Worth getting!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2012
Format: DVD
I am a huge Peter Pan fan. Neverland gave me everything I hoped for in a prequel and more. The story was creative, inventive, and surprisingly fit with the story of Peter Pan. It was very long but definitely worth the watch. I would greatly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys the story of Peter Pan, it is a wonderful addition to the story line.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2012
Format: DVD
I don't typically like when a prequal is made to a classic, well-known story. They usually distort the original charm, adding too many unrealistic and damaging side stories. But surprisingly, I did not feel this way after watching Neverland. The license taken did not seem to distort the orignal story overly much. Of course though, in typical fashion, they followed the modern formula: a mysterious magic object that everyone wants to pocess, mutant giant animals, "politically-correct" female leads, a sensuous story-line between characters, and of course, the dependably-always-there "believe in yourself" moment. Overall though, made exceptionally well (although the use of green screen was in a few scenes painfully obvious - but when 98% of a movie involves green screen, some slack can be given) and a truly engaging story. The characters were all casted magnificently.

There is some story-line errors. It doesn't make sense that a "magic orb" is what transports people to and from Neverland, yet in the book, Peter, Wendy, John, & Michael can fly to the "Second star to the right, straight on til morning." Especially as the magic orb is destroyed. How does Peter then get back to earth in order to hear Wendy's stories at the nursery window? It is also mentioned at the very end how Peter has lost his shadow - by that story time-line, Wendy and the boys should come immediately at the end of this movie. But according to the book, Peter and the Lost Boys had already had many different adventures on Neverland, had been there for awhile, and Peter had been sneaking to hear bedtime stories from Wendy for some time. Not a big issue, but still a discrepency, nonetheless.

A few content advisories though:

Hook and the female pirate captain are obviously sleeping together. She gives him a major come-on by strandling his lap, following by a passionate kiss. They are seen in her cabin in positions very indicatory of having sex together; she is seen naked from the back, waist up. She wears very low cut blouses throughout the entire movie, and all of her legs are seen as she reclines in a very seductive position on her bed. She is also seen beginning to disrobe, and alot of leg is seen as she steps into a pool of water. There is alot of sexual implications when they talk to each other.

Of course, there is fighting, but there's not too much blood shown really or even the actual inflicting of the wounds received. You see Hook lose his hand. There is some language but if I recall correctly, not overly much.

There are giant multi-legged crocodiles that wait bellow the ship for any unlucky plank-walkers; one pirate is thrown down to them, you see the waters swirl and the beasts fighting, but the body isn't seen. (Strangly though, when the Lost Boys end up in the exact same watery locations later, there are no crocodiles...convenient! Hmmmm.) The crodiles would be very scary for young children.

I really enjoyed this movie. I thought it was very well-done, and even as an adult, enjoyed the several hour mini-series very much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is a made for TV movie that is really cool. Gives a different perspective on Neverland and how the characters arrived there. It has a science fiction spin on the fantasy story that was fun. Would purchase again from vendor. Arrived in new condition as promised.
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