WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Don’t like? Watch the miniseries first.
Why do I do this to myself?
Better question: why do I or anyone else watch anything with the tagline “a Syfy original event”?
Exactly. Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that when SciFi became Syfy, the already rather mediocre programming turned to absolute crap. I watch only two things on this channel, and one of them is the only thing that gives Syfy any sort of ratings. That is, I happen to be a fan of the WWE and I watch Friday Night Smackdown pretty much every Friday. The only other thing I’ll watch on that channel is Haven because a) it’s right after Smackdown and b) its got Edge in it. This is not me saying it’s a good show, just that I watch it.
I have liked some stuff on Syfy before, namely any miniseries they do (Kingdom Hospital comes to mind, and I really did wanna see Tin Man.) So when they announced a miniseries prequel to Peter Pan aptly titled Neverland, I was down.
The idea of this miniseries is to tell us everything that happened before Wendy and her brothers came to Neverland. It tells you how Peter and the Lost Boys got there, and why Hook is Hook. Their idea is that this alchemist found a dimension that exists, paradoxally, at the edge and center of the universe. Because of this, time stands still. He creates these orbs that transport you to this dimension from our world. The Native American Kaw tribe living there call it Neverland because you never age there. Peter and his group of orphan boy thieves get there when they go to do a rob job with the man that looks after them (James “Jimmy” Hook.) When you hit the orbs, you get transported, and a lot of people have come across them during time. Hook and most of the Lost Boys end up on a pirate ship run by a woman named Captain Elizabeth Bonny, while Peter ends up with the Kaw tribe. He rescues the boys but Hook stays, becoming Bonny’s lover and helping her try to get the tree spirits’ mineral dust.
It’s…weird. I mean, it tells the backstory in an interesting fashion but it’s not particularly good. It’s hard to explain. The alchemist worked for Queen Elizabeth I and wanted this world to be a Utopia for scientists to live. But it’s never really explained why that didn’t happen. There is only one orb that takes you back to Earth, and this guy knows where it is and uses it but doesn’t work toward his dream? Also, if he worked for Queen Elizabeth, then how did the orb keep getting lost? Pirates end up with it; Native American tribes end up with it. If he can get back, how does he keep losing it and ending up with more and more people in his world? Why doesn’t he just put them back? I mean, it’s sort of explained that the displaced people wouldn’t know what to do in the world now that it’s changed so much but they don’t really explain….
They explain that he didn’t always have the Neverland to home orb. He had to create that while in Neverland. But it doesn’t give any sort of timeline. Did he create it after the others had stumbled upon it? Why didn’t he send them back as soon as he created it? It’s never answered.
Peter and the Lost Boys are aptly cast. Peter is smart and clever and spunky and the Lost Boys are suitably either young enough to look up to him as a caretaker or they’re his age and it’s a best friends/brothers sort of situation. They make up a suitable family and none of them are too stupid to get on my nerves.
Hook is an interesting character at least. He seems to have some real affection for these boys, especially Peter, but he’s greedy and he lets that get in the way of being a good guy. He uses his role as their guardian to try to get them to help him on his quest which is as much about power and greed as it is about love and trying to help the woman he’s met that he’s feeling for. He supposedly had an affair with Peter’s mother, and lost her to Peter’s father, which ends with him hating Peter’s father but promising to care for Peter to his mother. He does a poor job of it though and when he reveals all this to Peter (along with the knowledge that the woman in the pocket watch he’s carrying is of his mother) Peter cuts off his hand that holds the watch and lets it be eaten by the giant crocodile.
Another point for Hook is that his Smee is played by Bob Hoskins, whom I fell in love with when I saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I love his acting.
Hook ends up taking the place of captain on the pirate ship because the original captain, Elizabeth Bonny, dies spectacularly. Her big thing is that, stuck here in a world where her life is turned upside down and she can’t age, she finds this mineral dust that’s made by the tree spirits. This dust allows you to fly but only for a little bit or you’ll burn up. She wants more of the dust and to know the secret of it, but it’s protected from the pirates by the Kaw tribe. Problem here is that you never really figure out why Bonny wants the dust so bad. So she gets to fly, what’s the big deal? I mean, if you know the Peter Pan story, then you know that you can fly in and out of Neverland if you do it right (second star to the right and straight on till morning.) But Bonny doesn’t know this. It’s not revealed that you can fly in and out of Neverland. You have to assume that Peter somehow figures this out after the events of the series. Since Bonny doesn’t know you could fly home, why does she want this ability so badly? It’s never really revealed.
Tinker Bell does make an appearance. She’s a tree spirit (read: fairies) who took a liking to the alchemist (he does have a name, it’s Professor Fludd, but he’s not really a character with much development and screen time. He pretty much shows up to explain a weird dream sequence and to tell you about where Neverland is and what the orbs do. Then he gets killed.) She got involved during the making of the second orb (the one that takes you home) and she got all this “astral energy” that allows her to communicate telepathically. She’s voiced by Keira Knightly which was my big selling point for this thing. I love Keira, she’s an amazing actress and absolutely gorgeous.
The atmosphere is alright. I never had “edge of your seat” moments but I also didn’t find anything to be too inappropriate (Serious moments that end up being funny and the like.) Visually it’s…alright. It’s not stunning, not by a long shot. But it is imaginative and you don’t have too many “OMG CGI stahp” moments (those times where it’s so fake it’s facepalm worthy.) Costume and music are typical of a miniseries and don’t stand out to me in any way so I’d rate that as average.
Final Thoughts: Okay, it’s not the greatest thing on Earth. It’s a great premise but it’s not particularly well executed and there are some pretty big plotholes. 2.5/5 stars.