Hook (1991)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Maggie Smith, Bob Hoskins
Extras: Trailer, Talent Files

Commonly hailed as one of the few disappointments in Hollywood Wunderkind Steven Spielberg’s career, "Hook" is certainly one of the more playful movies by the director, and I have to admit that I did not particularly like the film the first time I saw it. While watching it once again for the review of this DVD from Columbia TriStar Home Video however, I have to point out that I found it significantly more enjoyable than the first time around. I guess it is one of those films you have to watch without too many preconceived notions and take it for what it is. An entertaining exploration of the question, what would have happened if Peter Pan actually grew up to become a regular adult?

On that premise, "Hook" introduces us to a middle-aged Peter Pan (Robin Williams) who had been adopted and changed his name to Peter Banning. Without any recollection of his past, Peter is leading a life as a financial advisor in company mergers and acquisitions. Despite the fact that he is happily married and has two adorable children, Peter is constantly caught up in his business, hardly leaving room for family life. When they all travel to London to visit Granny Wendy Darling (Maggie Smith), who raised Peter as an orphan, something horrible and unexplainable happens.
While they were out, Peter’s own children are kidnapped from their beds without a trace but a dagger with a cryptic note sticking in their bedroom door. The note challenges Peter to come and rescue them and is signed by James Hook. The police doesn’t find any clues or traces, but soon Granny Wendy tells Peter a story he can hardly believe. She reveals to him that he is the legendary Peter Pan, the character from the fairy tale of ages. His rational thinking leaves no room for such thoughts but when the pixie Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) appears that night and takes Peter back to Neverland, he suddenly realizes that there may be some truth to the story. Slowly he begins to rediscover his past and his abilities while he and the "Lost Boys" prepare to rescue the children from the devious grasp of Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman).

"Hook" is in many aspects reminiscent to Steven Spielberg’s earlier effort, "The Goonies." It may not be an intellectually challenging movie, but it sure is an enchanting fantasy adventure of the sort that a young boy’s dreams are made of. With its witty and light-hearted dialogues it creates a highly entertaining atmosphere, featuring an all-star cast, spearheaded by Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts and Maggie Smith. The elaborate and lush production design, bathed in almost impressionistic warm colors, the lavish costumes and the inventiveness of the story, creates a magical movie experience that caters to the young-at-heart and children alike.
While at first it may be hard to see Peter Pan shining through in Robin Williams’ character, once entering Neverland, we get to witness a fine transformation that gradually reveals the real Pan. Dustin Hoffman is perfect as Captain Hook with his mannerisms, the voice, and most importantly the delivery of his cleverly written lines.

Columbia TriStar Home Video is releasing "Hook" in a stunning presentation here, in what is without a doubt one of the best DVD transfers to date. Without any hints of noise or grain, taken form a pristine print, the video quality of the transfer is absolutely staggering. The is not a single speckle or scratch in the source print and the colors are beautifully vibrant. The film is presented in a 2.35:1 <$PS,widescreen> presentation in a transfer that is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> television sets. The level of detail found in this transfer is breathtaking, as every bit of information from the film print is preserved without any loss or artifacting. Color delineation is also perfect, creating an image that features powerful colors and restores even the most subtle hues from the film’s colorful production design. Never over-saturated, the transfer also renders skintones absolutely faithful. The blacks in the transfer are deep but never losing definition and the highlights are warm and well-balanced at all times. Without even a hint of compression artifacting, this is a DVD transfer to die for!

The disc contains English audio tracks in <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> and <$DS,Dolby Surround>. Both tracks are very well transferred to this DVD but the <$5.1,5.1 mix>es expansive soundfield creates an atmosphere that gives the presentation so much more dimension. Surrounds are used frequently and effectively, sometimes for effects purposes, sometimes to create a richer ambient atmosphere. The frequency response of the track is very natural with deep low ends and brilliant high ends. For some reason however, I have noticed slight distortion in a number of dialogues. They do not appear to be digital distortion but sound more like a slightly overdriven signal during the actual recording of the lines, which I found quite surprising.

John Williams’ orchestral score for the film is beautiful and enchanting and nicely counterpoints the jazzy theme in the beginning of the movie where we are first introduced to the hyperactive businessman Peter Pan has become in his real life. With poignant motifs, Williams once again manages to jump from reality to a magical world of wonders with ease. The mix creates a big stage for the score and the mix makes the best of the discrete channels.
Sadly there are no extras on this disc other than some talent files and the movie’s trailer accompanied by one for "Jumanji."

As I mentioned in my opening already, I enjoyed "Hook" much more this time around than I did the first time I saw it. Without the high expectations, knowing what to expect I found that much the boyish humor and the more satiric comments worked much better. The colorful production, the adventurous elements of the film and the superb acting allowed me to sit back and enjoy the film as an updated fairy tale with many familiar characters. If you haven’t seen the film in a while, maybe you too should give it another look, and if you’re already a fan of this movie, the DVD Columbia TriStar Home Video is sending your way here is a stunning testimony to DVD’s capabilities, featuring one of the best transfers we have seen.