Hey folks, Harry here... Once again another of our brilliant chatters steps up to the plate in brilliant form, this time it is DrMajorSgt, known for his ability to snuggle and make everyone feel warm and cuddly, is here to tell us about a screening he got into of NEVERLAND, the film about J.M. Barrie and the beginnings of PETER PAN. We ran some pictures from the set quite some time ago and with a cast that included Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet and Dustin Hoffman... well, it is a film that gives cause for excitement. Better yet, this review by DrMajorSgt is something quite promising. Here ya go...
Hello, my screen name is DrMajorSgt
I am a long time chatter, first time reviewer on AICN and I hope there will be more of these reviews in the near future.
I had the opportunity to see Neverland which is supposed to be released in 2003. Now of course the print I saw was rough, effects had to be filled in. Including some CGI. (Hears Fanboys scream!) But wait I haven't explain what's going on.
The story is about playwright and creator of Peter Pan J.M. Barrie played by Johnny Depp who once again fits the role like a glove. His character includes a scottish accent which Depp never drops and the accent isn't a bad Connery impersonation. It's that good. This is nothing new to Depp who continues to be a great actor who while comes off weird never fails to please us (See Fear and Loathing Las Vegas to know what I mean).
The movie is set in early 20-Century England (The movie didn't specify the year). It begins with Barrie watching the audience watch his latest play which doesn't go well. Soon enough Barrie is back at trying to come up with ideas. This is how the movie may seem like a rip-off of Shakespere in Love. Yes,both movies focus on writters of great fiction. Yes, there are moments that pretty much show how the writter got his ideas for his works. But Neverland is not a rip-off of Shakespere in Love for the fact it fills it's own purpose.
I've noticed that with reviews of Catch Me if You Can, the reviewer states it's a return to old-fashioned movie making. This I can say applies to Neverland. There is no cursing, no sex, no violence, there is death but it is handled in a repspectful way. This is another thing the movie has for it. It's isn't 100% pure saccrhine. Unlike Pay it Forward this movie doesn't go for emotion with a sledgehamer. It's thoughtful and doesn't tug at heart-strings for the sake of tugging them. There is a reason and you can understand why.
Now as for the rest of the cast. Note: Dustin Hoffman has a small roll in this movie and he pretty much comes off like Dustin Hoffman. Kate Winslet does very well in this movie as Sylvia Davie a widow with four children who doesn't come to Depp seeing a husband. In fact the movie plays with the idea of either Sylvia and Barrie are either in love or just friends. I believe that is up to the viewer to decide.
Next are the children and I aplogize for not having their names. The children come not as scene stealers but in their roll and play it. There isn't a wisecracker whose smarter than everyone else in the film. These are children who just felt a deep loss for their father. This loss is shown especially in the youngest who Barrie tries to make him still act like a kid instead of an adult.
Which leads into the fantasy aspect of the film. The film goes inbetween fantasy and reality especially when Barrie plays with the children. There are scenes of the Wild West, A Pirate Ship, Indians and yes even flying. Remember this is about the creation of Peter Pan. The original Peter Pan. Not the Disney version we know and NOT the bloated, Love or Hate HOOK. And no, Hoffman does not give any HOOK references in the movie. In fact the original stays true, at one point one of the children refer to the Indians as "Redskins". I felt no problem with this remark and deemed appropriate for the time. As you know Political Correctness has been around for at least 20 years.
Director Marc Foster blends fantasy and reality with whimsy. This is a family movie that is realistic when it comes to relationships and people. Barrie is an eccentric writter but isn't like a Robin Williams-style eccentric. There are shades of emotion and personality. Also there is no central bad guy in the movie. No one is looking to screw anyone over in the film. There is concern that Barrie who does have a wife himself maybe exploring an affair with Sylvia Davie. But as I said this is up to the viewer.
In conclusion, I have to say this movie is not like Chocolat or Shakespere in Love. It holds it's own, there is sweetness but not the kind that can cause cavity. There is whimsy and fantasy but it doesn't overwhelm the story. There is death and pain, but it isn't overwrought. As I said this film is basically yet another piece of old-fashioned movie making that works and works well. I give praise to Depp, Foster, Winslet, Hoffman and everyone else in the movie.
I just hope people see this film and Miramax doesn't fuck up the marketing for the wrong cuts could make it one of those period British "Comedies" that pretty much no one sees. When this movie comes, see it. Your money will not be waisted.