First Look: NEVERLAND, Sky

Syfy have had success putting twists on beloved children's stories in recent years, from the miniseries Tin Man (based on L. Frank Baum's The Wizard Of Oz saga) to Alice (based on Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland books), so nobody was surprised when Syfy announced their intention to give JM Barrie's Peter Pan a bonkers reinvention called Neverland last year. And now some production photos have appeared, courtesy of BSkyB, who will be premiering Neverland in the UK later this year. Neverland retells the famous story, but as a curiously altered prequel. In this interpretation, set in turn-of-the-century London, Peter (Charlie Rowe) is an orphan living with a gang of pick-pocketers led by Jimmy Hook (Rhys Ifans) -- in shades of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. After the boys steal a treasure with magical powers for Hook, they're transported to the realm of Neverland, to be confronted by 18th-century pirates led by Elizabeth Bonny (Anna Friel), and a Native American Kaw tribe led by a Holy Man (Danny Trujillo) with knowledge of tree spirits. In an interesting move, Bob Hoskins has agreed to reprise the role of bumbling pirate Mr Smee, which he played in 1991's Steven Spielberg movie Hook. The two 90-minute episodes of Neverland, written and directed by Nick Willing (Alice, Tin Man), will premiere on Syfy later this year in the US, and Sky Movies in the UK. Ian Lewis, Director of Sky Movies:
"The legend of Peter Pan spans generations, and never fails to delight and entertain. Despite many different interpretations, there€™s never been a movie of how it all could have come to be -- this is that story. Neverland is a fantastic coup for us and a landmark event for Sky Movies."
Alan Moloney, Parallel Films:
"The story of Peter Pan is one that resonates for every generation. Nick has brilliantly crafted something that makes sense of the story we all know and love. He takes us back in time and gives us the origins of Peter and Hook€™s story in a way that will open this world up to everyone, no matter what their age."
JM Barrie famously gave the rights to Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1929, so Neverland will subsequently be supporting the world-famous children's hospital. Christine De Poortere, Peter Pan Director at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children€™s Charity:
"We're delighted that Neverland will be benefiting Great Ormond Street Hospital Children€™s Charity in the spirit of JM Barrie€™s legacy."
What do you make of this Neverland project? Are you a fan of Syfy's Tin Man and Alice? Personally, I really don't like what Syfy do with these classic stories. I'm all for a fresh take on old stories, but Nick Willing seem to go overboard and his reinventions just end up looking rather ridiculous. Splicing Oliver Twist to Peter Pan, then throwing in a female pirate and Native Americans? It doesn't sound very clever to me, although maybe it'll be interesting if this work as a genuine prequel -- explaining how Hook became Captain Hook and why Peter Pan and the Lost Boys came to be his eternally youthful enemies. I'm already predicting Tinkerbell's one of the tree spirits the tribe are protecting, and that Jimmy Hook ultimately inherits Elizabeth Bonny's ship and crew. How about you?
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