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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!

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Source: JoBlo.com

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2:22PM on 05/05/2017
Didn't like it as a kid, Julia Roberts was so annoying and I found the adult Peter to be kinda creepy even though I really liked Robin Williams. Maybe I have to rewatch it again, but my memories on this one aren't good...
Didn't like it as a kid, Julia Roberts was so annoying and I found the adult Peter to be kinda creepy even though I really liked Robin Williams. Maybe I have to rewatch it again, but my memories on this one aren't good...
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10:51AM on 05/05/2017
Never watched this movie as a child. I saw it for the first time about 10 years ago when I was already 20 and although it wasn't painful to watch, it was obvious the movie was crap. One of Spielberg's worst along with Always, War Horse, The Terminal and 1941. I know most people would put Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on that list but I think it is still far better than any these films.
Never watched this movie as a child. I saw it for the first time about 10 years ago when I was already 20 and although it wasn't painful to watch, it was obvious the movie was crap. One of Spielberg's worst along with Always, War Horse, The Terminal and 1941. I know most people would put Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on that list but I think it is still far better than any these films.
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10:44AM on 05/05/2017
There are flaws all over this movie, and Julia Roberts stand out as the worst part of it. Was it a bad movie? I guess in today's standard yes. But was it also an awesome piece of your childhood? Hell yes.
There are flaws all over this movie, and Julia Roberts stand out as the worst part of it. Was it a bad movie? I guess in today's standard yes. But was it also an awesome piece of your childhood? Hell yes.
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+0
9:51AM on 05/05/2017
The movie isn't great. Re=watching it a few months ago I kept feeling like the movie has terrible pacing as it drags at times. But one thing I will completely disagree with this article with is that movie has no heart. I feel like that is what drives me. Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, and Bob Haskins all give inspired performances and like others have said the John Williams score feels magical. No way this film is worse than that trash Pan that was recently released. A mediocre Spielberg film
The movie isn't great. Re=watching it a few months ago I kept feeling like the movie has terrible pacing as it drags at times. But one thing I will completely disagree with this article with is that movie has no heart. I feel like that is what drives me. Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, and Bob Haskins all give inspired performances and like others have said the John Williams score feels magical. No way this film is worse than that trash Pan that was recently released. A mediocre Spielberg film is still well above other garbage films that have been released in recent years. Disney's Peter Pan is one of my favorite animated films this film truly feels like a direct sequel which is very much appreciated.
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8:17AM on 05/05/2017

Unpopular opinion?

This one's mixed really. A lot of people have nostalgic memories for it (I remember it generally, but not if it's actually any good or not). Critically however this film didn't do well at all, most reviews tend to read very similarly to this one.
This one's mixed really. A lot of people have nostalgic memories for it (I remember it generally, but not if it's actually any good or not). Critically however this film didn't do well at all, most reviews tend to read very similarly to this one.
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9:25PM on 05/04/2017
I know everyone is entitled to their opinion, but fuuuuuuuuck this guy.

Trash my favourite childhood movie, eh? Bad form, sir. Bad form.
I know everyone is entitled to their opinion, but fuuuuuuuuck this guy.

Trash my favourite childhood movie, eh? Bad form, sir. Bad form.
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9:04PM on 05/04/2017
I enjoyed it, to be honest i was a little let down that their wasnt ENOUGH of those sets of neverland and the children in their fantasy island esque dwellings.
I enjoyed it, to be honest i was a little let down that their wasnt ENOUGH of those sets of neverland and the children in their fantasy island esque dwellings.
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6:26PM on 05/04/2017
There are a lot of things that make the movie great:
1. The performances. Robin Williams is perfect as an adult Peter Pan. Name me another actor who could capture both sides of the character in this film so well? Hoffman , Maggie Smith, and Charlie Korsmo as the son also deliver good work.
2. The make-up. Seriously, I saw this movie a bunch of times as a kid and never knew that Hook was played by Dustin Hoffman. Heck, I don't think I'd recognize him now watching the movie for the first
There are a lot of things that make the movie great:
1. The performances. Robin Williams is perfect as an adult Peter Pan. Name me another actor who could capture both sides of the character in this film so well? Hoffman , Maggie Smith, and Charlie Korsmo as the son also deliver good work.
2. The make-up. Seriously, I saw this movie a bunch of times as a kid and never knew that Hook was played by Dustin Hoffman. Heck, I don't think I'd recognize him now watching the movie for the first time.
3. The score. John Williams' score is multi-thematic and emotional. It's considered one of his best by anyone who is a fan of his. I don't know how it sounds "phoned-in" as the author claims.
4. The sets are part of the charm, and I think are just as good as most other fantasy films from the 80's/early 90's. Certainly better than the green-screen/CGI stuff from Pan.
5. Hook feels like a complete story. Pan was just another failed attempt to jump start another series, hoping to lead into more sequels.
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3:57PM on 05/04/2017
I don't know anyone that didn't or still doesn't like HOOK. It was what it set out to be, a children's fantasy adventure movie with bright and colorful characters. Robin Williams was great and how cool was Rufio? I talked to Nick Castle (he wrote HOOK and also played the original Michael Meyers in Halloween) about this movie awhile back and he said he was going to direct it as well until Spielberg showed interest. Castle also did The Boy Who Could Fly and The Last Starfighter.
I don't know anyone that didn't or still doesn't like HOOK. It was what it set out to be, a children's fantasy adventure movie with bright and colorful characters. Robin Williams was great and how cool was Rufio? I talked to Nick Castle (he wrote HOOK and also played the original Michael Meyers in Halloween) about this movie awhile back and he said he was going to direct it as well until Spielberg showed interest. Castle also did The Boy Who Could Fly and The Last Starfighter.
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3:43PM on 05/04/2017

This guy is an idiot

As "bad" and unoriginal as Hook is, its still better than most of the dog shit that gets spewed out year after year in this era of films. There are NO movies made in the last 15 years that are classics like the 80's and 90's. No Hook, no Goonies, no Sandlot, no A League of Their Own, no Gremlins, no anything even remotely close.

We have fucking fast and furious and super hero movies. G fucking g.
As "bad" and unoriginal as Hook is, its still better than most of the dog shit that gets spewed out year after year in this era of films. There are NO movies made in the last 15 years that are classics like the 80's and 90's. No Hook, no Goonies, no Sandlot, no A League of Their Own, no Gremlins, no anything even remotely close.

We have fucking fast and furious and super hero movies. G fucking g.
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6:11PM on 05/04/2017
A League of Their Own doesn't fit with Goonies or the Sandlot. Not even close.

Gremlins? I've never met anyone who had fond memories of that movie, it seemed to come and go for most.
A League of Their Own doesn't fit with Goonies or the Sandlot. Not even close.

Gremlins? I've never met anyone who had fond memories of that movie, it seemed to come and go for most.
9:12PM on 05/04/2017
I get what you are saying.

There are way more other classics I could have listed, but I was at work writing on my phone, those just popped in my head.
I get what you are saying.

There are way more other classics I could have listed, but I was at work writing on my phone, those just popped in my head.
3:29PM on 05/04/2017
More hyperbolic shit from this guy. Did he really just call this one of the worst films ever? Really?
More hyperbolic shit from this guy. Did he really just call this one of the worst films ever? Really?
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3:11PM on 05/04/2017
How is it an unpopular opinion when it was disliked/hated by a large majority of the critics and viewers?
How is it an unpopular opinion when it was disliked/hated by a large majority of the critics and viewers?
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2:29PM on 05/04/2017

Wow

Bad form.
Bad form.
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+2
2:28PM on 05/04/2017
This doesn't hit ANY of the same beats as the original fairy tale. Have you seen or read the original? Because they are very different stories (or different parts of the same story). I always thought that the sets were childlike because it's a land of kids. Even the pirates are childlike. Robin Williams perfectly captured the conflict between growing up and staying a child. I'll admit that sometimes it became too childlike, but that's part of the point. That's what Peter went through in order
This doesn't hit ANY of the same beats as the original fairy tale. Have you seen or read the original? Because they are very different stories (or different parts of the same story). I always thought that the sets were childlike because it's a land of kids. Even the pirates are childlike. Robin Williams perfectly captured the conflict between growing up and staying a child. I'll admit that sometimes it became too childlike, but that's part of the point. That's what Peter went through in order to grow up and leave Neverland. Julia Roberts was awful as usual, but most everyone else was wonderful! But I can see how some would not care for it. If you aren't familiar with the original then you won't get a LOT of the throwbacks to it.
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+1
2:08PM on 05/04/2017

3/10.

I'm marking this green because I agree with it being bad... but I don't agree about it being an unpopular opinion. I think the world's overall opinion of this movie was and still is negative. Yes, it has fans, but so does every badly-reviewed box office hit. That doesn't make them good.
I'm marking this green because I agree with it being bad... but I don't agree about it being an unpopular opinion. I think the world's overall opinion of this movie was and still is negative. Yes, it has fans, but so does every badly-reviewed box office hit. That doesn't make them good.
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2:36PM on 05/05/2017
Some of us actually have brains and can form our own ideas and opinions. Most don't give a shit what critics have to say because their reviews consist of pompous pontificating and are their own opinions. The minute anyone references critics or sites like Rotten Tomatoes, they lose all credibility.
Some of us actually have brains and can form our own ideas and opinions. Most don't give a shit what critics have to say because their reviews consist of pompous pontificating and are their own opinions. The minute anyone references critics or sites like Rotten Tomatoes, they lose all credibility.
1:52PM on 05/04/2017
I never get these articles, so it's the opposite opinion of just some fictional nostalgic people that might like it; not actual critics who skewered this movie?
I never get these articles, so it's the opposite opinion of just some fictional nostalgic people that might like it; not actual critics who skewered this movie?
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1:47PM on 05/04/2017

April Fools

This HAS to be a late April Fool's prank lol
This HAS to be a late April Fool's prank lol
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1:42PM on 05/04/2017

I Still Love Hook

In truth, when I saw this come up under the unpopular opinion banner, it could have gone either way. Many dislike this movie while many others love it. I find myself in the second category. It tells an aspect of Peter Pan that hadn't been discussed before, what if he grew up? What caused him to make that choice? It dabbles in the idea of mortality and love. The performances are wonderful from the main actors. I'll fully admit it's got its flaws. I'm not a fan of the Rufio plot line, but it
In truth, when I saw this come up under the unpopular opinion banner, it could have gone either way. Many dislike this movie while many others love it. I find myself in the second category. It tells an aspect of Peter Pan that hadn't been discussed before, what if he grew up? What caused him to make that choice? It dabbles in the idea of mortality and love. The performances are wonderful from the main actors. I'll fully admit it's got its flaws. I'm not a fan of the Rufio plot line, but it doesn't kill the movie for me. I'd say this movie does what it sets out to do; to examine a well known story in a new way, to make you feel for the characters again. It's bittersweet in its tone, and I'm sorry that more don't care for it. But that's film for you. Subjective as any art form.
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