reveals the never-before-told story of how Peter Pan became the Boy Who Never Grew Up. It's an enthralling fantasy adventure for all of the family, starring Rhys Ifans, Anna Friel, Charles Dance, Bob Hoskins, with Charlie Rowe as Peter and Keira Knightley as the voice of Tinker Bell.
It's 1906 and young ragamuffin Peter (Rowe) and his gang of pickpockets earn their keep by committing robberies for crooked fencing instructor Jimmy (Ifans). Hired by the enigmatic Richard Fludd (Dance) to steal a mysterious orb from an antiques shop, Jimmy involves Peter and his friends, little knowing that the sphere acts as a gateway to another world. When the orb is accidentally activated during the robbery, Peter looks on as Jimmy and the boys are transported to the magical realm of Neverland. Confronting Fludd, Peter finds his own way to Neverland, but discovers that Jimmy and the boys have already been captured by pirates, led by the beautiful but ruthless Captain Elizabeth Bonny (Friel).
Meanwhile, Peter is saved from a swarm of angry 'Tree Spirits' by a group of Kaw Indians who reveal that they've been in Neverland for hundreds of years and have never aged a day. Onboard the pirate ship Jolly Roger, Jimmy finds himself drawn to Bonny and her maniacal plans for ruling Neverland. Desperate to get her hands on the powerful 'mineral dust' that gives the Tree Spirits their power, Bonny plots against the Kaws who protect the magical creatures from harm. Peter sets out to save his friends and find a way back to London, but discovers that his beloved mentor Jimmy has been much changed by Bonny's malign influence. As Bonny's cruel methods cut a swathe of destruction through Neverland, Peter finds his loyalty to the increasingly unhinged Jimmy tested as a remarkable series of events set him on the path to becoming the Boy Who Never Grew Up.
This two-part Peter Pan prequel features thrilling action and a superb A-list cast. Directed by Willing, the visionary film-maker behind miniseries Alice
and Tin Man, Neverland
explores the origins of classic characters like Peter Pan and Captain Hook and the very nature of the world created by author JM Barrie. Also featuring Knightley as the voice of Tinkerbell and Hoskins as Smee, a character he first played in Steven Spielberg's Hook, Neverland
is a star-studded family spectacular brought to the screen with imagination and verve.
Back in 1991, Steven Spielberg came something of a cropper when he dug into the story of Peter Pan, and tried to establish what happened once everyone had grown up. Neverland
has a lot more luck going the other way, though. It sets its story before the well known adventures of Peter Pan, and tries to find out just how he became who he was.
To do this, it moves the story back to the start of the twentieth century, and crucially, pulls in a really impressive cast. Writer and director Nick Willing has brought together Charlie Rowe as Peter, along with Bob Hoskins as Smee--reprising the role he played in the aforementioned Hook. Then there's Anna Friel, Charles Dance, Keira Knightley voicing Tinkerbell, and Rhys Ifans stealing any scene he's let near as James Hook. It's Ifans who you long to see as much of on the screen, and Neverland doesn't disappoint. He does the role proud.
This release sees the original mini-series brought together in one, and it's all the better for it. It's a rollicking adventure, with its ambitions firmly in entertaining a family audience. What's particularly impressive is that it finds interesting things to do with a bunch of characters familiar to most, if not all, of us to some extent. And, more than that, that familiarity adds to the fun. An excellent family adventure, with good, broad appeal. --Jon Foster