Should I Watch..? 'Hook'

Updated on June 24, 2018
Benjamin Cox profile image

Benjamin is a full-time carer and former volunteer DJ at his local hospital radio station. He has been reviewing films for over ten years.

Poster for the film
Poster for the film | Source

What's the big deal?

Hook is a fantasy adventure movie released in 1991 and acts as a sequel to the novel Peter And Wendy by J.M. Barrie. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film casts Robin Williams as a middle-aged Peter Pan who is dragged back to Neverland by his nemesis Captain Hook after Peter's children are kidnapped. The film also stars Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hoskins, Julia Roberts, Maggie Smith, Charlie Korsmo and Amber Scott. The film had been in pre-production since the Eighties but Spielberg abandoned the project after the birth of his son Max before returning to it in 1989. Sadly, the film received a lukewarm reception from critics and the film under-performed at the box office despite earning more than $300 million. It did, however, receive five nominations at the following year's Academy Awards.

Forgettable

2 stars for Hook

What's it about?

Peter Banning is an overworked lawyer in San Francisco who journeys to London with his wife Moira and children Jack and Maggie to visit Wendy, Moira's grandmother. After a night at a charity dinner, Peter and Moira return to find their children apparently kidnapped by one Captain James Hook. Wendy reveals that the stories of Peter Pan were true and that Peter forgot his true identity after he grew up. After an impromptu visit from Tinkerbell, Peter is helped to fly back to Neverland in order to rescue his children.

But things have changed since Peter left Neverland for good - the Lost Boys spend most of their time squabbling under the watchful eye of leader Rufio while Hook himself is disappointed that his arch-nemesis has become a boring, insignificant, middle-aged man. With just three days to rescue his kids from Hook's clutches, Peter is given a crash-course by Tinkerbell in reclaiming his lost youth.

Trailer

Main Cast

Actor
Role
Robin Williams
Peter Banning / Peter Pan
Dustin Hoffman
Capt. James Hook
Julia Roberts
Tinkerbell
Bob Hoskins
Smee
Charlie Korsmo
Jack Banning
Amber Scott
Maggie Banning
Maggie Smith
Wendy Darling

Technical Info

Director
Steven Spielberg
Screenplay
James V. Hart & Malia Scotch Marmo *
Running Time
142 minutes
Release Date (UK)
10th April, 1992
Genre
Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Academy Award Nominations
Best Set Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Visual Effects, Best Makeup, Best Original Song
Razzie Nominations
Worst Supporting Actress (Roberts)
*story by James V. Hart & Nick Castle, based on the play and books by J.M. Barrie
Hoskins (left) and Hoffman are the only cast members who deserve any credit, having great fun as the villains of the picture.
Hoskins (left) and Hoffman are the only cast members who deserve any credit, having great fun as the villains of the picture. | Source

What's to like?

Hook might try to put a different spin on a familiar story but unfortunately, it doesn't quite pull it off. Granted, the film makes a great effort to appeal to children by being full of noise, colour and imagination. Neverland itself is a surreal blend of inspirations and offers a vivid and lively Jolly Roger populated by a motley assortment of pirates. Led by Hoffman and Hoskins as the overly camp Hook and Smee, the scenes with such characters are enjoyable and much more fun than those with Peter and the Lost Boys.

In retrospect, the film does a decent job of reviving the setting and breathing new life into a character that hadn't really been culturally active since Disney's much-loved 1953 animated version, Peter Pan. It looks the part, has two great performances from its lovable baddies and certainly isn't as racially insensitive as the earlier flick. Sadly, the film has a great many flaws that this viewer can't ignore.

Fun Facts

  • Due to her behaviour on set caused by working in isolation on a green screen, Roberts would become known as Tinkerhell by the crew.
  • The film has a enviable list of stars making cameos. Phil Collins plays Inspector Good, country star Jimmy Buffett plays a pirate who tries stealing Peter's shoes, Glenn Close appears as a male pirate berated by Hook while George Lucas and Carrie Fisher play the kissing couple on the bridge sprinkled with fairy dust when Tinkerbell escorts Peter to Neverland.
  • James Madio, who plays one of the Lost Boys, kept continually asking Spielberg the name of his character until the director cut him off by saying "don't ask!". Hence, the character is listed in the credits as Don't Ask!

What's not to like?

For all the glee brought to the picture by Hoffman & Hoskins, there is a curious detachment from almost everybody else. Williams could play the man-child better than almost anybody but his interpretation of the character feels somewhat off. Pan was cocky, arrogant and self-assured but Williams seems totally out of his depth. I blame the script which tries to be too clever - why meddle with a highly successful formula in the interest of trying to find a new take on the story? They'd have been better remaking the original for a modern audience.

Like most kids in American movies, Korsmo and Scott are very annoying and Scott especially works too hard trying to be cute instead of likeable. The whole thing feels as though it was made by committee instead of people genuinely invested in the project. Take the demographic of the Lost Boys as an example - there is at least one child from seemingly every culture and nationality (or racial stereotype) on Earth and you half-suspect that this was not only to appeal to as wide an audience as possible but also to right the wrongs of the 1953's somewhat old-fashioned approach to race relations (there is no sign of Tiger Lilly or native American Indians anywhere in Hook). Throw in an increasingly sexualised - in a PG-way - Tinkerbell in the form of Roberts wearing her rictus grin and the film comes across as disjointed and disingenuous.

Despite boyish looks, Williams plays the role like he's a man-child told he can go to the playground one last time. It doesn't work.
Despite boyish looks, Williams plays the role like he's a man-child told he can go to the playground one last time. It doesn't work. | Source

Should I watch it?

It's such a shame that Hoffman and Hoskins put all their effort in to make their roles enjoyable and memorable in a film that is otherwise extremely forgettable. The film lacks interest, energy and cohesion without bringing anything new to the numerous interpretations and versions of Peter Pan in the mainstream media. Hook is the ultimate candyfloss movie - it's too sweet, fluffy and insubstantial and after a while, it's probably going to make you feel sick.

Great For: very young children, anyone not familiar with Disney's version, the pause button

Not So Great For: adults, critics, child actors (not many seemed to have much of a career after this film)

What else should I watch?

Despite its age and its aforementioned old-fashioned depiction of native Americans, Peter Pan remains the most enjoyable version of the story for me. Like Hoffman, Hans Conreid plays a wonderfully enjoyable Captain Hook who has since passed into Disney's pantheon of legendary villains. Complete with beautiful animation and your typically brilliant Disney soundtrack, the film still stands head-and-shoulders above its contemporaries like 2003's Peter Pan or the fairly dreadful Pan which bombed so badly, its fairy-dust ran out mid-showing.

Of course Disney have already sewn up the pirate genre with the hugely successful Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise, based on one of its rides in one of their many theme parks. The Curse Of The Black Pearl was the first and best instalment, being far more enjoyable than anyone supposed thanks to Johnny Depp's iconic performance as Captain Jack Sparrow. While Dead Man's Chest wasn't a complete disaster, At World's End was a messy and bloated finale that underwhelmed. However, because it still made loads of cash, Disney performed CPR on the series and have released two further films to a mixed reception - On Stranger Tides and Salazar's Revenge. One wonders how much longer the series can sail before it sinks altogether.

© 2018 Benjamin Cox

Soap Box

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Benjamin Cox profile imageAUTHOR

      Benjamin Cox 

      3 months ago from Hampshire, UK

      I knew I'd forgotten to mention one! Yes, Finding Neverland is excellent.

    • profile image

      Pat Mills 

      3 months ago from East Chicago, Indiana

      One of Spielberg's few missteps as a director, along with Always and War Of The Worlds. For a good companion piece to Disney's Peter Pan, I'd recommend Finding Neverland.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)