Film: Hook

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Film:

Hook

Director: Steven Spielberg
Honors:
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Distributor: Sony Pictures

Steven Spielberg’s deeply flawed but sporadically fun and moving update of the Peter Pan legend stars Robin Williams as the grown-up Pan, a corporate-takeover type who must embrace his old identity in order to save his kids from Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). The stars put on a good show, including Hoffman’s read of Hook’s hysterical personality, Julia Roberts mini-turn as a tiny Tinker Bell, and Maggie Smith’s touching performance as the aged Wendy. The visual contrast between the adult Pan’s bustling outside world and the insulated fantasy of Neverland is…

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Steven Spielberg’s deeply flawed but sporadically fun and moving update of the Peter Pan legend stars Robin Williams as the grown-up Pan, a corporate-takeover type who must embrace his old identity in order to save his kids from Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). The stars put on a good show, including Hoffman’s read of Hook’s hysterical personality, Julia Roberts mini-turn as a tiny Tinker Bell, and Maggie Smith’s touching performance as the aged Wendy. The visual contrast between the adult Pan’s bustling outside world and the insulated fantasy of Neverland is striking, but Spielberg’s ideas about the Lost Boys—politically correct in their ethnic diversity, energetic on skateboards—are contrived and cheapening. On the plus side, the story’s theme about adults finding their innocence again through their children is very touching (though some people have found it cloying). If you can look beyond the glaring problems, there’s plenty to like here. —Tom Keogh

Hook is Steven Spielberg’s most spectacular film of the 90s. It is also seriously underrated, arguably the equal of ET, (1982) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, (1977). An unofficial sequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, Hook adopts the startling premise of what happened after “the boy who never grew up”, grew up. Robin Williams, in his career best performance, is the corporate suit forced to remember he once was “The Pan”, returning to Neverland to battle nefarious Captain Hook (a splendid Dustin Hoffman), for his children’s love.

This is a ravishingly beautiful, stunningly designed film, at once highly imaginative and with a genuinely magical atmosphere which ranges from exquisite, delicate fantasy to slapstick tomfoolery. There is fine support from Maggie Smith, Julia Roberts and Bob Hoskins, and John Williams’ rapturously romantic score is yet another career high. Slated upon release, and dubbed a flop though it grossed $200 million, Hook reacted against the “greed is good” 80s by upholding family values and responsibility while evoking a genuine sense of wonder. Only the somewhat pantomime final showdown disappoints, but alongside Legend, (1985)and Labyrinth, (1986), Hook is ripe for reassessment as a fantasy classic. The DVD transfer is superb and the disc, though not packed with additional features, has some interesting extras. —Gary S. Dalkin

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