Neverland Review – How Peter got his wings

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Syfy started its countdown to Christmas week with one of its mini-series. Unlike those of the past which have been re-telling of classic literary stories, this was a prequel that explored the origins of Peter and Hook with the tag line: Before Peter met Wendy, before Hook became a captain, learn the story never told about the place you know by heart. Many times these type of shows end up ruining the classic tale but in this case, they made it better. For 4 hours, Syfy transported me back in time to when i was 10 and I felt like i was there.

Peter before he was Peter Pan

We are shown Peters past, an orphan on the streets of London, taken in by Jimmy Hook and living with a band of other boys who are all pick pocketers. We never had a back story on Peter, or very little at best and Syfy had the ability to work freely with that part because there was very little pre-existing mythology there to hinder them. One signature item that made me happy and hopeful for the entire show, was seen within the first 10 min, Peter playing his flute. No matter the shape of the instrument that is played, its a signature item for Peter Pan and one we get to see quickly. Peter is leader of this gang of boys, adventurous, risk taking and head strong.

Peter wishs to be like Hook when he grows up and tries to impress Hook at all turns. A job comes up to steal something that Hook says he will do alone, but Peter in his head strong ways, takes the boys to get it for Hook, to show him how grown up they all are.  Jimmy shows up to scold Peter but gets to business finding an orb, that a friend of Hooks, Dr. Fludd wants badly. Hook slips and when the orb hits the floor, Hook and the gang of boys are gone, and Peter is left in the shop alone.

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Peter takes the orb with him and follows someone who is looking for Hook back to Dr. Fludds place to find out what they want Hook for. Peter is caught and tells Fludd what happen, much to Fludds shock and asks Peter where it is. Peter runs away and gets back to the orb, taking a dagger he stole and strikes the orb, transporting him to a new world. In this new world, Neverland, we watch Peter struggle with his desire to find his friends and go home and also his fascination with this new world and the wonders it offers.

Jimmy Hook and the Jolly Roger

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Hook was once a well established man in London who feel on hard times and no longer had the social connections he once had. Part of his agreement with Dr. Fludd was once Hook got the orb, Fludd would help Hook regain his status in society and he would be wealthy again. Now in Neverland, hook wants to find a way back quickly, but not before he and the boys are taken captive by Captain Bonny and their Pirates. He quickly proves his worth using a sword and protects the boys from Smee. Bonny however has a hold over Hook and shows him mineral dust (aka pixie dust) and how they could be rich and powerful in Neverland if they could get to the mineral that the tree spirits mine. She explains its impossible to get to, protected by mountains, cliffs and natives. It doesnt take long for Hook to want this power, and use it back in London.

The Lost boys

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The group of boys are fond of their leader Peter, but at times wonder why he gets them in so much trouble. Peter and Fox manage to get themselves caught by natives in the area who take them blindfolded to their village. There, they learn more about the pirates and Peter is eager to find a way to save his friends. Peter meets the chief and his daughter, Tiger Lily for the first time. Its not long before Peter ropes Fox into hiding in the canoe with him so they can get to the beach and go to the pirate ship to rescue his friends.

Peter shows up to rescue the boys from the pirates with the help of Fox who managed to stay hidden. The problem is Peter decided to find Hook, who the boys try to explain has fallen for the captain and they should leave him. Peter storms in on Hook and Bonny and when Hook tries to convince Peter to stay, he is confused and hurt. He barely makes it away and as they begin to row away, Peter notices Fox isnt on the boat. Just as Fox was about to jump off the ship, he is killed by Starkey with a sword, with Peter screaming and crying and Hook calling Peters name.

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Back at the native camp, Peter is yelled at for violating their trust and sneaking out through the canoe, but in spite of his loss, no punishment would be taken out. However, Peters punishment was only beginning. Curly blames Peter for Foxs death and Peter agrees and takes off to find a way to get them all home. For now, the boys are guests and honorary members of the tribe, while Peter embarks on his quest to bring them home.

The conflict between Peter and Hook

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Peter deep down wants to believe that Hook is good and cares for him and at every turn gives Hook more chances to redeem himself now that he is helping the pirates. Peter manages to find Fludd, who is the hooded man they dream about and finds the way to get him and the boys back home, but not before Hook and the pirates also find Fludd and kill him. Peter fights Hook for the first time and Hook reveals to Peter, that he was in love with his mother and Hook took him in as a promise to her.

To say that Hooks constant attention to Peter is not normal, is an understatement and as he grows more angry in Neverland, we start to feel that he truly wants to punish Peter for something, but why? Bonny wants the mineral dust with or without Hooks help and upon killing Fludd, she captures Peter and compels Tiger Lily to tell them how to get the tree spirit city. Just as she says she well, Peter escape and Bonny runs him through with a sword and we watch as Peter falls to the ground below, lifeless.

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This new story of Peter and his origins is dark but keeps with it the very innocence we would expect to find from Peter and the others. And the level of corruption we would expect to find in Hook. The tree spirits come to the aid of Peter and because of his pure and innocent heart, save him and make him one of their own, giving him the power of the mineral dust, and the ability to fly.

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Peter is tasked by the tree spirits to rid the world of neverland of his kind and get the orb to them so they can send everyone back to their proper places. Peter is still however a child and in his innocence still expects Hook to be good. Upon capture by Bonnie, and injured, Hook takes Peter and pretends to have saved him and wants to get the boys and go home. Only Peter has been tricked, and the pirates make it to the tree spirit city, where they set fire to it and kill most of the tree spirits. Peter feels betrayed, upset and angry. The tree spirits also blame him for it and attempt to wipe his memory before tinker bell steps in.

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In the final conflict between Peter and Hook, Peter learns that Hook killed his father, over the fact that he wanted Peters mother. This explains his obsession with Peter. In some ways Peter reminded Hook of her and now Peter reminds him of his father and this angers Hook even further. Peter will not allow him to go back to London and bring more people back and in the final fight, Peter slices off his hand, leading to the signature “hook” for Captain Hook and Peter is lost with the orb in hand.

Back at the camp, the lost boys have resigned themselves to living there forever and that Peter was gone. But then a familiar tune was heard and Peter comes out from hiding, dressed in modern clothing. He tells them the orb sent him back to London for a bit, where he found Fludds men and picked up a few things and came back, hiding the orbs on both sides to never again allow anyone through. He explains, they never have to grow up, there are endless adventures, and it was their world. Twins looks down and points to Peter and says “wheres your shadow?”.

The story

The brillant thing about this miniseries is that they had the ability to freely tell the story without any pre-existing expectations to it, otther then the basic framwork of the characters. Syfy managed to bring us the head strong and innocent Peter we wanted to see, while bringing an edgy and sometimes dark twist to the classic story with an origin that was all its own.

I give SyFy a huge A+ on this production and hope to see more like this, and perhaps a sequel?

The actors

The lost boys were a great group of young actors who helped bring out the sometimes scared, headstrong and “lost” group of boys. The two that shined the most were of course Charlie Rowe (Peter) and Rhys Ifans (Hook). I first saw Charlie in the golden compass and he has grown up a lot since then. As Peter he brought the emotional mind of a child who was both lost and hurt, looking for an adult who would give him the safety and comfort he was looking for. In that search he found adults only lied and cheated and that turned Peter into a bitter boy who eventually became the boy who never grew up. Charlie’s quick wit and energetic portrayal of Peter was brilliant and worth repeating if they do a sequel.

Rhys plays a very troubled Hook who is corrupted by hate and lust for power. Hook obsesses over Peter quiet a bit and at times it came across creepy but that was the intention. We find that Hook “protected” Peter for at least 2 very sorted reasons: 1. he reminded Hook of his [Peters] mother and 2. He was a reminder later on of Peters father who was, according to Hook, “Arrogant, smug and not as innocent as he portrayed”. As Hook feel further off the edge of sanity, Rhys manages to show you a man who looked sane one moment and near psychotic break the next.

As an added nice touch, the croc. The CGI was good, but the addition of extra legs, was a bit much, but still, as a lost boy, would you be a bit freaked out by seeing this in front of you?

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Robert Prentice