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The UnPopular Opinion: Hook

05.04.2017

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

Nostalgia can be a powerful thing. There are countless movies that each and every one of you loves dearly that are most likely piles of shit. Don't be offended, I love quite a few dogshit movies myself but I am more than willing to accept that. Still, there are a lot of movies that have esteemed followings and fans who absolutely refuse to acknowledge that the movie they hold so dear is not that great. One such film is Steven Spielberg's HOOK. Released in 1991, HOOK has turned into more than a cult favorite on home video and streaming services with some holding it in the same ranks as Spielberg's best works. Unfortunately, HOOK doesn't even deserve a passing glance as it is one of the weakest and most embarassingly made films of all time. The fact that it comes with the trademark name of Spielberg makes it even more of an embarassment. HOOK is the very definition of a shitty movie.

A couple of months ago, I lauded Joe Wright's maligned reimagining of this same story, but what succeeds in PAN far outweighs what succeeds in HOOK. While Spielberg's film has top tier talent like Robin Williams, Julia Roberts and Dustin Hoffman, it lacks the ambition or scope that is often seen with every other film these stars and director have turned out. HOOK looks about as expensive as NBC's live telecast of the musical version of Peter Pan witrh sets that could have been reused for a middle school play and no one would have noticed. Even in 1991 money, HOOK looks shoddy for a film that cost $70 million. Spielberg himself has said that the technology was not there twenty-five years ago and yet he did little more than splash paint on clearly fake sets. HOOK never has an air of realism with almost every shot blatanly made on a soundstage. While you can argue that hundreds of films were made the same way, few look as cheap as this.

The UnPopular Opinion, Hook, Drama, Fantasy, Steven Spielberg, Peter Pan, Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts

Ultlimately, HOOK was meant to be a twist on a classic tale, much like the recent Disney film MALEFICENT. Unlike MALEFICENT, HOOK doesn't differentiate itself enough to make it worth seeing. PAN at least told a story with a straight face and gave us the backstory we never had before whereas HOOK portends to be a wholly unique and original tale but hits every single story beat and plot device from the original fairy tale, albeit with an adult Peter Pan. The fact that the movie is titled HOOK should have meant this movie was going to give us the pirate's point of view. Instead, we get a rehash that fails to have the scale or scope of every single Steven Spielberg film before or since (except THE BFG, which is basically a CGI version of HOOK). This movie is hollow, artificial, and has no heart or soul. In essence, every time you watch this movie, a fairy dies.

HOOK definitely has some moments. I am not a heartless bastard, after all. I enjoyed Rufio, the food fight and the final fight scene, but that is about it. There are snippets through this movie that make it enjoyable, but they are punctuated by far too many awful sequences. Hook being suicidal, pirates playing baseball, Tinkerbell flirting with Peter and virtually every scene featuring Robin Williams as Peter Pan are groan worthy and far below everyone involved. As much as I love Bob Hoskins and Dustin Hoffman chewing the hell out of their scenes, it is not nearly enough to save this production. Dustin Hoffman delivers one of, if not his best, performance as an actor in this movie but it feels like it is for the wrong film. If Spielberg had elected to just make a straight Peter Pan film, Hoffman would have won an Oscar. Instead, HOOK cannot decide if it is a comedy spoof of PETER PAN or a serious film.

We could just call HOOK what it is: a paycheck. Steven Spielberg was in the midst of planning his wedding with Kate Capshaw while HOOK was in production so he was clearly unfocused. The director himself has criticized the movie for it's many flaws but the biggest culprit is the script. Writers Jim V. Hart and Malia Scotch Marmo have almost no understanding of the classic phrase "show don't tell". HOOK is a master class in heavy-handed exposition with almost two-thirds of the film being devoted to characters explaining what is going on. This is even more egregious since the story is Peter Fucking Pan and almost no one seeing HOOK will not be familiar with that classic tale. To hit us over the head with every element of the plot from recreating Peter's childhood to reenacting his same adventure as an adult doesn't feel nostalgaic or even cute but just makes you roll your eyes with boredom.

Shame on everyone here. From Spielberg and the writers to the brutally low rent cinematography from Oscar-nominated Dean Cundey. Hell, even John Williams phoned in the score which somehow still feels better than this flick deserves. HOOK is a movie that cannot justify it's own existence. Removing the names of anyone not on screen and you would never in a million years be able to guess who was responsible for this movie. There is absolutely nothing special or distinct about HOOK which is the biggest insult you can give a film. There are countless movies with workmanlike production values by journeyman filmmakers that look more esoteric and lush than a single frame of HOOK. In the end, this film is just as forgettable as Peter's time on Neverland. 

The UnPopular Opinion, Hook, Drama, Fantasy, Steven Spielberg, Peter Pan, Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts

If you find yourself angered by my review, then I have some homework for you. I want you to tell me what makes HOOK a great movie. I will make it easier and just ask you to tell me why it is a "good" movie. Because HOOK is not good. It is bad. Plain, generic, and completely pointless, HOOK is a terrible film punctuated by some memorable moments. But, moments to not a movie make and HOOK has far too few of these classic moments to make it worthwhile watching. Even in the annals of family films, HOOK ranks very low. Steven Spielberg should really reserve his talents for more adult fare unless he is planning on really dedicating a full effort to envisioning a tale the way it deserves to be told. It is a shame for me to speak ill of anyone who has passed away but both Bob Hoskins and Robin Williams should feel embarassed that this movie is on their resume. And that is considering some of the shitty movies both of those great actors made over their careers.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to alexmaidy@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Source: JoBlo.com

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