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An update of "Peter Pan" from the original stage play and books of James M. Barrie, finds an adult Peter Pan returning to Neverland to rescue his own children from the vengeful Captain Hook.
For more about Hook and the Hook Blu-ray release, see Hook Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 9, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, Maggie Smith, Caroline Goodall
Director: Steven Spielberg
» See full cast & crew
Hook Blu-ray Review
'Hook' is a satisfying tour-de-force of visual delights.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 9, 2011
When are you going to stop acting like a child?
Steven Spielberg on a bad day is still better than the vast majority of filmmakers past, present, and probably future. Hook, his 1991 picture of an elder Peter Pan rediscovering his roots, is arguably the director's weakest film, which means it's still a pretty good all-around performer, an enjoyable and daresay even, at times, magical excursion off to Neverland for fun and adventure that proves that the kid at heart never really disappears. He or she instead just becomes lost beneath life's other burdens that materialize as nature takes its course and adult society dictates that fun, play, make-believe, and a vivid imagination can't possibly co-exist with the demands of adulthood. The film exudes the typical Spielberg magic. It's wonderfully assembled, looks great, and plays quickly. There's a good deal of heart that's complimented by high adventure and expertly-staged action choreography. The characters are very well realized and nicely performed, but still the movie never quite feels complete, but certainly not for lack of effort. On the contrary, it might be a little too bouncy, buoyant, even perfect, for its own good. While the story certainly dictates a fair bit of magical whimsy and childlike eagerness and excitement, the surreal and flamboyant characters, production values, and dialogue all seem to take away from the core of the story, a core message on the importance of family and youthful exuberance that seems to get lost underneath all of the supporting elements, making Hook something that's more about style than it is substance.
Peter Banning (Robin Williams) desperately wants to be a good father to his children Jack (Charlie Korsmo) and Maggie (Amber Scott), and a good husband to his loving wife Moira (Caroline Goodall). Unfortunately, he's a broken record of broken promises, skipping out time and again on important family events at the drop of a hat or, perhaps better said, the ringing of his cell phone. Work even follows Jack to the family's London getaway, where they're to stay with Moira's grandmother Wendy (Maggie Smith), who was also a very special figure in Peter's early life. Unfortunately, while Peter and Moira are attending a ceremony dedicating a new hospital wing in Wendy's name, their children are kidnapped. The only clue: a letter pinned to the wall, signed by the villainous Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). Wendy shocks Peter with news that he is -- or was once -- the legendary Peter Pan, and that only he can rescue his children by re-discovering his roots. Later that night, he meets the pint-sized fairy Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts) who transports him to Neverland. There, he discovers that Hook has indeed kidnapped his children, an act meant to draw the Captain's old nemesis back into the game and vanquish him once and for all. Hook is dismayed to find that Peter is no longer the rival he once knew. Before Hook can simply do away with the entire kidnapped Banning family, Tinker Bell convinces the Captain to give her three days to whip Peter back into shape so that Hook might defeat the man who once cost him his right hand. With the help of the Lost Boys -- some of whom are enthusiastic about Peter's return, and some of whom doubt his abilities -- can Peter rediscover the magic, save his family, and become the man and father he needs to be?
Though heart and message seem somewhat drowned out by the movie's flamboyance, Hook is still a fine performer, a movie that, as it should be, is a wonderful example of pure, fantastic escapist entertainment. Forgive the pun, but Spielberg manages to nab his audience hook, line, and sinker with the reworked story of Peter Pan, told more from an adult perspective this go-round but still retaining its childlike sense of awe and wonder. It's a brilliant concept and, superficially, it couldn't have been any better executed. It's perfectly polished in typical Spielberg fashion. It's excessive without often feeling excessive because the plot dictates a certain excessiveness in the throwback pirate-infested, kid-centric world of Neverland. It's garish but not annoyingly so, because it has to be. The movie almost has something of a Terry Gilliam flamboyance about it, but it all fits in so well to the overall vision that every ornate costume, ridiculously bright color, and other over-the-top excesses simply and contextually melt into the greater whole. Still, the narrative does feel a little overburdened by the rest of the movie. The simple themes of treasuring one's youth, never forgetting roots, and the importance of family -- blood or otherwise -- never seem to be given the same weight as the rest of the film's elements, as critical to its overall arc as they may be. The movie doesn't necessarily feel unbalanced, just sort of incomplete. It's certainly not a devastating flaw; this is still wonderfully fun entertainment, but it just seems that not every priority is in perfect order.
Indeed, the entirety of Hook just seems to come down on the side of extravagance with its brilliantly assembled sets and costumes where, it seems, no small detail was left incomplete, no garment left anything but perfectly stitched, no shot anything but expertly framed. Despite its rather support-heavy structure, Spielberg still milks the material for all it's worth, creating an enjoyable, but not exactly memorable, amusement park ride disguised as a motion picture. But Spielberg's performers play a rather large role in energizing the movie, too. Robin Williams is the perfect actor for the film's lead (though not title) role. His uncanny ability to play an adult with a wide-eyed and convincing child-like exuberance, offset by a more serious business-first, never-there dad, is easily the film's best asset outside of its art direction and Spielberg's magical touch. Dustin Hoffman's performance as the wicked Captain Hook never seems quite as devilishly fun as it ought to be (though not for lack of look and effort), but he's helped along by an immeasurably delightful supporting performance by Bob Hoskins as Hook's first mate, right-hand man, and ship's humorist. The special effects are adequate, but even flying humans and shrunken movie stars can't hold a candle to the brilliance and thoroughness of the film's sets and costumes.
Hook Blu-ray, Video Quality
Hook's Blu-ray debut is strong and in typical Sony fashion. The studio's 1080p transfer captures the film's lively, extravagant visual core brilliantly. Colors are fantastic, balanced, and brilliant throughout. Whether Jack's Blue Jay's baseball cap, Hook's red jacket, the warm stained wood on the pirate ship, or the bright silver hook itself, the transfer yields superbly realized colors that greatly enhance the film and embody its visual structure. Flesh tones go with the flow and pick up various warm lighting accents along the way, and black levels are sturdy and deep. Fine detail is also rather strong. The image is crisp and rarely goes soft, and the result is an unending parade of nicely detailed objects and surfaces. Pristine and frayed and dirty clothing both look marvelous. Facial textures are strong, and even the little details all over the ship -- heavy rope, wooden planks -- look marvelous. The movie is truly a visual wonder, and Sony's Blu-ray does well to capture its very essence. The image is largely absent any debilitating compression issues. Light grain is occasionally evident, reinforcing a quality image and making for another nice looking catalogue transfer from Sony.
Hook Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Hook's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is energized and fun. The track's early cues are satisfying, particularly evident at the schoolhouse play and later baseball game where crowd ambience and vocal presentations nicely engulf the soundstage. Music ranges from airy and light to lively and potent. It's very well spaced, clean, and supported by a quality low end element. It often plays very big, as it should, supporting the movie's necessary over-the-top visuals. It's also helped along by some evident surround support. Likewise, various sound effects spill into the rears, creating a nicely immersive soundstage that easily places the audience in the middle of the action. It doesn't boast the same seamless clarity as the best of the most recent movies and soundtracks, but it's certainly effective and a whole lot of fun. Dialogue reproduction is clear, focused, and never hindered by even the loudest action scenes or musical cues. Fans are sure to love what Sony's accomplished with the energetic, well-balanced, and highly satisfying lossless audio presentation.
Hook Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Hook contains only Sony's usual non-film related "extras," previews and BD-Live functionality. A DVD copy of the film is also included.
Hook Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Hook is a pretty simple movie to analyze. It's incredibly fun, it looks fantastic, its actors are solid, the direction is first-rate, but the themes seem a little lost under the avalanche of what is a necessary visual flamoyance. It's hard, really, to find fault here, because the story dictates this level of excess, but for it to all really work, the movie needs something that's a bit more elevated in importance and execution than what amounts to a Hallmark movie of the week opening act and closing sequence. Indeed, the themes are left to generic situations, dialogue, and performances, but if audiences can overlook these faults and just sit back and enjoy the ride, then Hook may be labeled a success, even if it brings up the rear of Steven Spielberg's brilliant body of work. Sony's Blu-ray release of Hook features fine video and audio, but it comes with absolutely no film-related extras. It's worth a purchase at a bargain-basement price, but most will be best served by what should prove to be an enjoyable rental.
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