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DISAPPOINTING VARIATION ON A THEME
on 1 March 2014
How Neverland came to be. This two part television version tells of an island created by Elizabeth I's alchemist (Charles Dance), Tinkerbell in a glass globe acting as a portal. Amongst those involved are Anna Friel as a flamboyant eighteenth century pirate queen and Charlie Rowe as Peter, heading a gang of Edwardian urchins. Their mentor is disgraced aristocrat Jimmy (Rhys Ifans), he to evolve into their Enemy No.1.
All this sounds gloriously inventive. Surely a treat is assured with such illustrious names on board (especially with Bob Hoskins again as Smee). Glowing reviews tempted me to buy, I looking forward to being most royally entertained. Instead there came considerable disappointment.
Here is yet another example of how vital it is to have a strong script upon which to build. This is a mishmash. From start to finish much seems awkwardly cobbled together, bewildering leaps in the plot suggesting savage editing. A clue why this is so appears in one of the bonuses on Disc 2. The director speaks of a four hour long film. What we in fact have is well under three.
Amongst assets are some performances and many special effects. An interesting bonus tells how some of the latter were achieved, green screen much in evidence. It fascinates to see how ingeniously everything becomes transformed. In interviews cast members enthuse about their roles and look forward to the finished version.
This attempt to produce a meaningful, spectacular variation on the Peter Pan story has inspired mixed reactions. Mainly they are favourable. Sadly it simply did not work for me, the whole enterprise needing more focus and a firmer hand.