A few things: first, this movie isn’t really a movie. It’s a four-hour SyFy miniseries. It’s also not, strictly speaking, a Disney movie. But it is what I like to call Disney adjacent.
The four-hour series tells the story of Neverland, the fictional place where no one ever grows up and the setting for the 1953 Disney animated classic Peter Pan.
We follow Peter and his Lost Boys from the streets of Edwardian London to the beautiful, mysterious planet of Neverland, find out how they fell in with the Indians (and fell out with the Pirates) and how Peter learns to fly. It explains or teases absolutely everything we remember from the classic film, but it also gives us the raw, emotional context that I never realized was missing but is totally illuminating. I’ll never watch Peter Pan the same again.
The negative: the plot is sometimes convoluted, especially as it related to Peter’s mentor, James, and often times unnecessarily violent. As such, I wouldn’t recommend it for kids. It’s effects are also laughably bad and the scenes often go on way too long. There is a rambling, 20ish minute subplot where Peter loses his memory that is, in a word, pointless.
Though it absolutely has its drawbacks (it is a made-for-SyFy miniseries, after all), the actors are marvelously spot on, especially Anna Friel, who proved her adorability chops on Pushing Daisies . Here she is, at turns, absolutely brutal and sweetly beguiling as the Pirate Queen Bonny. I also loved the science fiction elements drawn in by Professor Fludd. Grounding the story in “science” makes it feel even more real, as if I, too, could head to Neverland one day.
The bottom line: if you’re willing to overlook the truly dreadful accents as well as the even worse CGI effects, this is a fun origin story. It is definitely not for kids, but for those of us who couldn’t avoid growing up, there’s a lot to like here.
Have you seen Neverland? Or the Disney-sactioned origin story, Peter and the Starcatchers? Let us know what you thought!