Updated: Oct 23, 2018
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / FRAME SHOTS
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; 1991; PG for brief language and violence; Streaming via Amazon Video, FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play, iTunes (4K), Vudu, YouTube
Best extra: Eight minutes of deleted scenes
FOR my son’s generation, now in their early ‘30s, Steven Spielberg’s “Hook” remains one of their favorite childhood movies.
He was six at the time when we saw it as a family, having already experienced a number of movies on the silver screen including “Home Alone” a year earlier, and several Disney animated classics such as “The Rescuers Down Under,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
“Hook” and “Beauty and the Beast” were the most eagerly awaited family movies that holiday season in 1991. Robin Williams, who had just starred in Terry Gilliam’s “The Fisher King,” was cast as a grown-up Peter Pan. Pan’s adult persona had become the hard-nosed workaholic Peter Banning, who is too busy with his career for his family. He misses his son Jack’s (Charlie Korsmo) important baseball game and takes endless phone calls during his daughter Maggie’s (Amber Scott) school production of Peter Pan.
Dustin Hoffman plays Captain Hook. It had been a couple of years since his second Oscar win for the autistic Raymond in “Rain Man” (1988). As Hook, Hoffman is goofy at times, wearing a big black wig and bossing Bob Hoskins around as his sidekick Smee. The near-six-foot-tall Julia Roberts is miscast as seven-inch fairy, Tinker Bell, who still has feelings for Peter.
Critics weren’t kind to Spielberg’s “Hook,” finding fault with the lackluster script and a super long Neverland section in which Peter arrives to rescue two purloined children with the help of Tinker Bell. Sadly, “Hook” was filmed on an overcrowded soundstage with “too many characters, and poor traffic direction,” critic Roger Ebert wrote, delivering the film a big “Thumbs Down.” It’s reminiscent of big Hollywood productions from the 1950s like “Brigadoon” that should’ve been filmed on-location.
But shades of classic Spielberg can be found throughout. When Peter, his wife Moira (Caroline Goodall) and Granny Wendy Darling (Maggie Smith) discover the children are missing after attending a dinner honoring Wendy’s work with the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London. They find the front door glass broken, and long, deep cuts along the walls – evidence of Hook’s arrival. The camera follows them up to the bedroom on the top floor, where young Peter Pan first met Wendy in J.M. Barrie’s tale. We see it when Peter finally regains his “happy thoughts” and flies again, and when the multi-ethnic Lost Boys, led by Dante Basco’s Rufio, surrounds Peter.
On the Rotten Tomatoes site “Hook” is one of Spielberg’s lowest graded films listed at 38 percent with top critics. Still, that didn’t stop Sony Pictures from releasing “Hook” on 4K, making it the eighth Spielberg film on the Ultra HD format joining “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), “Jurassic Park” (1993), “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” (1997), “Saving Private Ryan” (1998), “The Post” (2017) and "Real Player One" (2018). “Schindler’s List” (1993) will get a 4K release in December for its 25th Anniversary.
Sony clearly understands those who have fond memories for “Hook” make it a perfect 4K release for them and their own growing families.
“‘Hook’ opens your mind to a world of imagination and adventure. It helps you believe in the impossible and to hold onto your dreams. I remember feeling sad, I think for the first time during a movie when Rufio dies.” ― Chad Kelley, my son
“Hook” received five Oscar nominations for Art Direction, Costume Design, Makeup, Visual Effects, and Original Song, as Robin Williams received his third Oscar nomination for “The Fisher King” (1991). Production cost was around $70 million, with worldwide box office sales topping $300 million – not a bad return. The deleted scenes in HD are uneventful; an original featurette found on European DVDs back in the '90s is still MIA.
Sony remastered “Hook” in 4K from the original 35mm camera negative (2.39:1 aspect ratio), which produces exceptional clarity from the numerous wide shots – a Spielberg trademark – to finely detailed close-ups with a healthy dose of natural film grain throughout.
Many composite special effects shots take a nosedive. Also, the film grain enlarges during those moments, a product of taking two pieces of film and combining them to make a new shot. It’s a clear downsizing of old-school post-production, compared to digital composite shots made today. A majority of these are mastered and rendered in 2K reducing quality from start to finish. But I'll take a film like "Hook" any day mastered in 4K, with its brief, lower quality moments.
The HDR10 toning on disc and Dolby Vision on iTunes gives the visuals a real pop from shadows, highlights and mid tones far surpass the previous editions, while the color gamut is much richer – especially the warm tones.
Sony has also upgraded the soundtrack to an eight-channel Dolby Atmos experience, nicely balanced throughout the room and to the height speakers. Effects to John Williams’ magical score, written before "Hook" was finished, fill the room. Bass response from the percussion section is quite powerful, especially during the “Presenting the Hook” march.
Mr. Spielberg, keep them coming.
― Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch producer