"Neverland Part 2"
Writer: Nick Willing
Director: Nick Willing
In yesterday's review of "Neverland Part 1," I wrote that part of the saving grace of the miniseries was the sense of humanity that Rhys Ifans brought to Jimmy Hook and the genuinely warm relationship he had with Peter (Charlie Rowe) and the rest of the Lost Boys.
However, "Neverland Part 2" manages to throw out all of that characterization as if it never happened.
Picking up where we left off, Peter is dead by the hand of Captain Elizabeth Bonny (Anna Friel), so Tinkerbell (the voice of Keira Knightley) and the other Tree Spirits carry Peter's body away to the source the magical dust and resurrect him as a boy who can fly. Meanwhile, Hook's romance with Bonny seems to be on the edge of collapsing. After witnessing the death of his surrogate son, you'd think Hook would be upset by that. But instead, Hook is obsessed with returning to London with the secret of the magical dust. Hook's portrayal also doesn't seem to be consistent with the way Ifans played him in the first part.
After some extremely brief flying training with Tinkerbell, Peter manages to rescue Aaya (Q'orianka Kilcher); but he almost immediately gets captured by the pirates. Finally rejected by Bonny, Hook rescues Peter and he begs his forgiveness for his actions earlier in the miniseries. Of course, this turns out to be a trick to get Peter to show Hook and the pirates a way to get into the well protected Indian territory and to the source of the magical dust.
I just didn't buy that the Hook in part 2 was the same man from "Neverland Part 1." His betrayal of Peter seems incredibly unconvincing in both its rationale and execution. Later in part 2, we learn Hook's connection to Peter's parents and it's basically a "he was evil all along!" revelation. Rather than give us a nuanced story about a man's decent into darkness, "Neverland" essentially asks the audience to believe that Hook's willingness to fight the pirates to save his Lost Boys wasn't sincere. And that his father/son relationship with Peter is nothing more than a sham.
That could have worked with some consistent characterization. Instead, Hook's motivation seems to turn on a dime depending upon the writer's whim. At one moment, he's trying to kill Peter and the next he's giving Peter the "join me and we will rule!" speech. Hook even throws out the "take my hand!" line; which was almost as on the nose as his "you've got a lot of growing up to do, Peter."
Even Peter himself suffers through some badly characterized moments. At one point, Peter is cursed and stripped of all of his memories; which makes him closer to the cocky and arrogant Peter Pan introduced in J. M. Barrie's original novel. But almost as fast as the amnesia angle is introduced, it goes away just as quickly. Basically, the Lost Boys narrate a poorly edited flashback to their days in London and Peter's back to his normal self in no time.
As for Tinkerbell, Keira Knightley had a lot more lines in this half of the miniseries. However, Tinkerbell still only gets scant moments with Peter to establish his bond. The Tree Spirits entirely disappear from the story after they banish Tinkerbell. And she only gets a few more scenes herself. There's also a confusing sequence in which Tinkerbell is badly wounded, suddenly recovered and then wounded again.
Some of the Lost Boys aren't bad and Curly (Patrick Gibson) even gets his own subplot where he confronts his fears. However, Q'orianka Kilcher still gave the most stilted and wooden performance of the night as Aaya. I can't put it strongly enough just how bad she was. Kilcher may be this generation's Maria Pitillo.
Perhaps most unforgivably, the miniseries' climax brings us to the inevitable sword fight between Hook and Peter. And what should have been an iconic moment of Peter taking the hand of his adversary appears to occur… by accident. Judging from the way it was shown here, Hook practically cuts his own hand off while Peter holds his sword hand still. It also leads to one of the night's clunkiest lines when one of Hook's surviving pirates asks him what he'll use as a hand now.
Weirdly, the ending also glosses over any way for Peter and his Lost Boys to return to Earth. It's suggested that they're trapped in Neverland, but Barrie's tale is predicated upon Peter's visit to a house in London. And if Neverland is a planet in the middle of the universe, he can't exactly fly there now, can he?
Ultimately, the "Neverland" miniseries had about two hours of story stretched out over four hours. And whatever potential it had was squandered through a series of bad decisions, rendering the entire show pointless.
Crave Online Rating: 4.5 out of 10.