‘Neverland’ review

Nick Willing’s “Neverland” miniseries of 2011  ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1720619) is on Netflix…and it is awesome!  (Note: this impression comes to you from someone who’s familiar with the lore but has not read the classic book.)   This comes to you without spoilers.

Neverland

First off, the casting is perfect.  Rhys Ifans is the man who becomes Hook.  It’s shivery-good.  Anna Friel has a ball as the Caribbean pirate captain.  Q’orianka Kilcher as Tiger Lily elevated the character to a respected heroine.  Charlie Rowe is the first Peter Pan I’ve seen whose mistakes instantly and automatically made me think, “It’s because he’s a child!” instead of having to be reminded of that.  All of the Lost Boys had a believable dynamic and a few refreshingly differentiated themselves from the group.  It was especially wonderful to see Peter interacting with his gang in London.  This show did an excellent job showing why these boys would follow him, not just any boy who could fly.  Particularly when they question Peter’s leadership.  Secondly, the added elements explaining how everyone reached Neverland start off with enough kick and mystery to match Neverland’s wonder, but the writers were smart enough to keep these additions on the fringe instead of overwhelming the original story with them.  Thirdly, once in Neverland the dynamics between the characters and that world felt organic.  You could really tell who had formed a balance with the world and who hadn’t.  It brought everything to life.  Fourthly, each element of the world included in “Neverland”  is adequately explored.  You feel you really know how it feels to live with the “Injuns” or with the fairies (known here as “tree spirits”).  Additionally, their backstory deepens, but doesn’t really depart from what I knew of these people before.  I could look at the screen and draw a clear link between what was happening there and the actions seen in “Peter Pan” with no trouble whatsoever.  It was glorious.  Without having specific expectations or predictions, I found myself sitting there going “Of course!”  That’s always the best kind of prequel.  The only nitpick I have is that they did not include mermaids.  However, everything else was so well done that I felt satisfied without them and imagine that another element might have easily just thrown the whole thing off.  Fifth and lastly, this version finally answers Barrie’s contention that children are heartless to my satisfaction.  That is, they agree with his premise that childhood itself can be heartless, but then go on to say individual people create connections and surround themselves in memories so much that even children cannot remain heartless without very special circumstances.  This might drive purists nuts, but I love it.  And I loved watching this.

I highly recommend this show.

Once Upon a Time 2×24 finale “And Straight On Til Morning”

There’s no leaving the need for spoilers:

 

-Does anyone else find it highly suspect that the holy Tamara and the sacredness of her quest allow her to leave escape plans with the most selfish males she meets, aka August and then Hook?  ANYONE ELSE feel that’s pretty much a red flag around here?

-So, Snow White is now clearing the darkness in her heart AND proving her and her hubby’s leadership skills by…declaring that she wants to risk the lives of herself, her family, and all of her subjects for Regina’s because it’s the “hard path” and because she still feels guilty over killing her mom.  This is the most selfish, horrible leader thing ever.  Luckily, I love Regina and really need her to live, I just thought we were going to get there through Henry or even Emma’s that-is-wrong-FAMILY feelings rather than hearing one woman using her guilt to imperil her people being portrayed as Great-yay!  And then to top it all off, it is Therapist Approved!  Come on, Archie!

-It is amazing to me that, in spite of being all moonish and anguished over Milah’s image, Hook never seems to think of Bae as Milah’s son, just Rumple’s.  In his private references to him it’s always the Dark One’s son or the kid the shadow’s looking for, only after Bae brings up Milah does Hook use her as a tool to persuade Bae into staying aboard.  This bugs me-just one more way in which Hook’s lovesick story is inconsistent.

-Technically, Cinderella’s baby was also born here, so Henry would have had it for company.

-I am gratified Granny was finally called in as babysitter, though.  Greg and Tamara wouldn’t get past her shotgun at Henry.

-There was a pathetic lack of Ruby.

-Emma’s magic powers are extremely convenient at all times, I must say.

-Was anyone else expecting Belle to wake up, remember all the bad things Gold let himself do at Lacey’s urging, and be all upset at him?  At least a little bit?  Make SOME comment about her Laciness?  After the town was saved, at any rate.

-I loooooove everything Regina in this episode!  On point, focused, and without even any really long speeches or claims.  That is the best media dying ever and no one ever, ever does it!

-Does everyone just assume if the diamond got sent to another land it would just not do anything, as opposed to simply exploding somewhere else?  Cause the random missile plan is truly not heroic.

-We’ve been over this-it took him forever, but Gold has magical security on his shop now!  Did Lacey let the dwarves in?  Also, we’ve been digging up memory-reviving fairy dust for weeks now and Sneezy STILL NEVER GOT HIS IDENTITY BACK???  THE HELL, SHOW?

-You’d think Ruby could survive as a wolf, right?  I mean, her wolf self did get born again in Storybrooke, so it was technically born there, sortof.

-I do finally buy a storyarc of Hook’s in this episode, though.  The reaching of his wearing-down point and willingness to try new tactics was believable and touching.

-These Lost Boys…first, do you suppose the confiscated shadows are then sold to the coachman in Pinnochio to be his creepy shadow workers on Pleasure Island?  Second, why are they dressed like Robin Hood?  Three, if they’ve just been looking for Henry all this time, as opposed to even a small short-list of desirable boys to kidnap, life in Neverland just got reeeeally boring.  I do not find this as Neverland version as intriguing or dangerous as others seem to, because….how frustrating and tedious is that?  Fourth, we saw a lot of scenes there at night.  Shouldn’t we have heard this creepy crying for parents Wendy spoke of?  Five, if there’s a picture of the boy the shadow wants, can’t he see whether he’s got the right one or not?  Geez.

-Please let Tamara and Greg be quickly dispatched and replaced by more interesting higher ups in the next episode.

-Someone could explain how Phillip got revived, perhaps?

-Perhaps we can finally get some Pirates of the Caribbean references?

-Also, Tiger Lily!  Get on it!

And that’s Season 2!

Once Upon a Time 2×21 “Second Star to the Right”

This is the episode where they stopped trying to wrap things up for the finale and just threw things into a box.  Fairly sturdy box, though.  SPOILERS:

 

1. Am I the only one who thought the “I love you”s between Emma and Neal were too abrupt and forced?  Perhaps if Neal, as someone who thinks they’re about to die, had started it as opposed to Emma, who was in denial, I could have bought it.  As it is, I just think that there goes another storyline that could have been interesting, super-condensed and disposed of.

2. I feel Disney really missed out on opportunities for fun references here.  I knew hoping for some kind of “Great Mouse Detective” thing in Big Ben was probably too much of a long shot, but shouldn’t there at least have been chimney sweeps?  A Mary Poppins hat?  A chimney sweep’s broom???  Come on, people!

3. This Neverland story doesn’t make sense to me.  If the Shadow just wants boys-Lost Boys-then why bother with Wendy in the first place?  If it was supposed to be a preview so her brothers would want to come, the shadow was pretty stupid to let her stay so long or tell her about the soil rule.  Why on earth would Bae think pots are a good defenses?  If the real plan was to get everyone in the crawl space, why not start there?  If the Shadow started showing up at the same time as Bae, wouldn’t he wanted Bae instead of the brothers in the first place?  How was Bae surprised about winding up in Neverland?  If he had a lighter up his sleeve to make Shadow go away, why didn’t he just try fighting with it before making the deal to leave the Darlings alone?  And on top of all that…taking in a hungry urchin is one thing, but letting him sleep in the same room as your preteen daughter seems screamingly out of place anywhere, but particularly in Victorian London.

4. Most important thing in this episode: Maleficent lives!!! Hurrah!  I’m going to go ahead and decide that she also survived Greg and Tamara due to that super-survival spell and just shape-shifted again.  Perhaps into a raven akin to her companion in Sleeping Beauty this time?  I felt incredibly cheated that we didn’t get to see the real fight with her.  Her shape and strength was amazing and even Hook managed a good line in her presence.

5. Okay, having Regina use her magic ‘obliviate’ just so she can tell the audience what she wants to do, since it’s obvious it makes no sense for her to be saying this to Henry, takes me right out of the story.

6. Also, what’s with the torture?  If they’d referred to things like no one withstanding the machine or this being Regina’s pit of despair I’d be okay with it, but…it just wasted time .

7. The minute Tamara said “unholy” I checked out.  Not that I was ever interested in that storyline to begin with.  However, if their headquarters can just inform Tamara that gem=a curse failsafe, then…First, that’s insane.  Second, I want this to go back to Jekyll and Hyde, the good doctor founded this to try and stop Hyde before its magic curse killed him.  Third, shouldn’t they be interested in using that technology whatever to make more anti-magic shields or whatever, prevention rather than eradication?

8. This complaint is late since haven’t reviewed the last couple episodes, but: You’ve got a field of magic portals that are your only hope for your desired future and you don’t leave anyone on guard???  I feel Granny or Ruby would have thought of that.

9. It’s a little difficult to take seriously the saying “No one steals from a dwarf!” seeing as most of them start life by doing grunt work for the fairies’ dust, which all goes to them, and so they don’t really have possessions to steal.  Even outside of that, they stick in packs, so it should at least be “No one steals from dwarves”?

 

Overall: Thank God that whole Tamara-Emma-Neal love triangle no one really committed to can stop bungling around.  Kudos for Regina for keeping everyone on point with what’s important.  Who wants to bet Antoine’s got some extra beans on his person since he’s learned it’s good to have failsafes too?  Anyhow, not totally great, but not a bad showing, either.  We’ll see how the finale goes.