Review: Neverland

Peter Pan never grows up– and he’s not going away anytime soon. This latest twist on J.M. Barrie’s memorable character brings him to Neverland for the first time. Before he flew around with Tink and the Boys, he belonged to a gang of street urchins, in the employ of one James Hook.

Cast and Crew Information

Written and directed by Nick Welling. Based on characters created by J.M. Barrie

Full cast and crew information may be found here.


Peter Pan belonged to a Faganesque gang, run by a man named James Hook. Both were spirited away to Neverland, where a conflict transformed them into the characters we know today.

High Point

The film gives us an interesting backstory for Neverland—not that it really needed one, since Barrie expressly composes it from what was popular in Edwardian kid’s tales and play. Welling also brings some interesting psychological twists to the Pan/Hook relationship. It’s no masterpiece, but it works better than most revisions of this sort, while more-or-less respecting the source material.

Low Point

The eighteenth-century pirate captain needs to be told, “watch the Indians closely, and we’ll see where their secret passage is,” but she can figure out galaxies and Neverland’s position in the universe. She does so, of course, because she identifies Orion, positioned in the wrong part of the sky.

Seriously? If they must inject science into an obvious fantasy, can they at least get it sort of correct? If the planet of Neverland sits in another galaxy, it’s nowhere near Orion, and no pirate captain would have a clue where it is. If it’s anywhere not in our solar system, Orion wouldn’t be visible as Orion. All of this takes place in a scene that serves no real purpose.

It”s not the only example of sloppy writing/thinking in Neverland, but it’s the most egregious.

The Review

Originality: Gritty adaptations of children’s tales have been coming fast and thick lately, but this one manages a few unique takes of its own. As a bonus, it’s almost child-friendly. 3/6

Effects: The effects vary wildly in quality and style, almost as if multiple effects companies had the contract for the film. Neverland’s lush tropical mattes are servicable, and the giant crocs manage to be scary, in a monster movie kind of way. Other effects, such as the ice fields, might charitably be described as stylized. They might work if everything else was. The backgrounds to Fludd’s forest city might as well be out-takes from MGM’s Wizard of Oz or the Kroffts’ Pufnstuff. 4/6

Story: The story isn’t perfect, but it held my interest. 4/6

Acting: The performances vary. Rhys Ifans, Charlie Rove, and Q’orianka Kilcher handle their key roles well. Bob Hoskins plays Smee for the second time, and clearly knows the part. The other pirates go entirely over the top. 4/6

Production: 5/6

Emotional response: 4/6

Overall: It remains one of the better Early Twenty-First Century Gritty Adaptations of a Beloved Children’s Tale. 5/6

In total, Neverland receives 29 out of 42.