Sexy Captain Hook sucks the magic out of Syfy's Neverland

How many Lost Boys must you stab with a rusty knife to get to the heart of Peter Pan? Quite a few, according to Syfy's new miniseries Neverland.

When this Peter Pan origins tale isn't gutting small children with giant swords, it's pumping Native Americans full of bullets and pushing Pirates off cliffs. Oh and there's sex in it too, and fairy genocide — so yeah, "gritty" is one way to describe it. Or you could say: a bunch of adults ham-fistededly stuff somewhat salacious origin tropes into a poor, unsuspecting fairy tale. But it's not all that bad. Spoilers ahead...

Neverland is Syfy's latest attempt at a rebooted fairy tale. Something they found great success with, in past miniseries like Alice and Tin Man. In this latest one, you discover why Captain Hook and Peter Pan are destined to spend eternity in Neverland adorably fighting each other and fawning over Tiger Lilly. We discover that Captain Hook started out as Jimmy Hook, who spends his days teaching fencing lessons (convenient!) and running his Fagin-esque collection of pickpocket orphans who pillage the streets of London for him.

Sexy Captain Hook sucks the magic out of Syfy's Neverland

Peter Pan is a wily orphan who directs his band of Lost Boys with a musical pipe-driven code system. Peter and Jimmy are bestest best friends. Which makes it really weird, when Jimmy starts killing off boy by boy after he goes insane. Anyway, after robbing an antiques store, Jimmy finds a magic globe (which is later revealed to be a portal) and he and the boys are whisked away to Neverland. There, Jimmy joins the pirates with the help of Anna Friel's very persuasive pirate vagina, and Peter and the boys stay with the Indians. They then all fight over control of the "mineral" mined by fairies in Neverland — you may know it as fairy dust. Which is exactly where this train blows off the rails. Instead of dwelling in the mysterious magic that is Neverland, entirely too much is explained. Once the miniseries starts in about fairies mining mineral powder and stabbing Lost Boys with swords Neverland became less magical and more a creepy world where adults murder children for fairy cocaine.

But first let's talk about the good.

The Good:

Phenomenal Casting:
I must hand it to Syfy — they always seem to nail it with their cast in these miniseries events. Andrew Lee Potts was an absolute delight as the Mad Hatter in Alice, and Neal McDonough nailed it as the Tin Man in, well, The Tin Man. Both Rhys Ifans (Captain Hook) and Charlie Rowe (Peter Pan) are truly inspired casting moves this time around. You just can't take your eyes off of either when they're on screen. And when they're together screaming about their sordid backstory, it's just marvelous CG scenery chewing. I expect great things from Rowe, he's an absolute gem.

Sexy Captain Hook sucks the magic out of Syfy's Neverland

The Characters:
While the plot was buried in laughably adult scenarios and sciencey-wiencey gobbledegook, the characters were pretty fun. Watching Jimmy Hook go from creepy boy-collecting sword enthusiast to a bloodthirsty lunatic looking for a recipe for eternal life is pretty fun to watch.

Sexy Captain Hook sucks the magic out of Syfy's Neverland

Gorgeous CG Landscapes
A standing ovation for everyone involved in creating the beautiful landscapes in Neverland. Seriously glorious work. Absolutely stunning. I didn't even mind that almost every landscape seemed to have a tiny bridge that everyone had to cross.

Sexy Captain Hook sucks the magic out of Syfy's Neverland

Bob Hoskins
Bob Hoskins reprises his role as Smee!

The Bad:

The Pacing
The whole thing is three hours long, without commercials — but it feels much longer. It just drags on and on.

Weird Darkness
Where Tin Man went dark by ripping out the brains of the Queen's trusted advisor while the soon-to-be-scarecrow begged for mercy on the operating table, Neverland just runs a bunch of boys through with dirty blades and calls it a day. You're never close enough to any of these characters to feel sorry when they die (and a lot of people die, and they're children for goodness sakes). Plus it's an origins tale, so even when Peter or Tinkerbell is in peril, there's really no true danger. Then again, Peter almost manages to pull a few crocodile tears out of me in a particular scream off with Hook. Almost.

Sexy Captain Hook
At one point, Peter Pan rushes into the Pirate ship to free his buddy Hook from the throws of the evil pirate Captain Bonny (played by Anna Friel). Peter barges into the bedroom, only to discover Hook and Bonny naked — either having sex or being done with sex. I don't know, it was awful. I'm down with making Captain Hook crazy pants, but please keep your crazy pants on, sir. I could live 1,000 lives and not need to ever see Captain Hook humping on the Jolly Roger. Then, to make matters worse, Hook just throws on a flimsy pirate robe and runs over to Peter to hug or comfort him. PUT MORE CLOTHES ON, PLEASE.

Sucking The Magic Out
The miniseries tries desperately to explain away all the magic. Everyone insists on calling fairy dust Mineral Dust. I'm sorry, the winged creatures flying around on the island are fairies. And the dust they are covered in is dust. It's fairy dust, the end, calling it mineral does not make it any more interesting. They also go to great lengths to explain why no one ages on planet Neverland — because it lives at the farthest reaches of the universe as well as at its center, time stands still for all those who come there. If you're going to try and justify fantasy, give it a purpose. For example, the scarecrow doesn't have a brain because a horrible monster ripped it out of his head. That makes sense, and creates a seriously demented villain. Saying that Neverland is a planet doesn't really do much for anyone other than getting the change to show some fancy CG map.

No Mermaids.

Summing Up:

Watch it for Rhys Ifans' complete on-screen mental break, and to get a glimpse at the super Charlie Rowe (Peter Pan). They're a lot of fun to watch. But be warned: Syfy is just going to beat the magic right out of this fairy tale like a mean kid with a hammer and bag full of fairies.

Neverland will air on Syfy on December 4th & 5th at 9/8c.