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Hook (Superbit Collection)
In 1991, Steven Spielberg released his whimsical live action sequel of the beloved story, Peter Pan. It was jammed packed with high-powered stars such as Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, and Bob Hoskins. With a healthy budget, fancy promotional spots, a fantastic script, and a can't-miss cast, it seemed to be a surefire hit. But sadly, Hook failed to live up to the hype in theaters.
Hook is a movie you either love or hate. It's a family fantasy tale full of bright colors, crazy costumes, and even crazier hairdos. It's a touch on the sappy side, pulling more at the emotions than the average action-obsessed attention span. In short, it's a wonderful movie that a lot of people just plain don't like.
Our story begins with Peter Pan - now named Peter Bannister (Robin Williams) - as a middle-aged, wealthy, cutthroat acquisitions officer who is more concerned about his multi-billion dollar corporation deal, than the happiness of his family. After missing his sons little league game - which he promised to show up for - he sets off to England with his wife, son and daughter to visit his old friend, Granny Wendy, (Maggie Smith). While Peter is away at the coronation ceremony naming a state of the art orphanage facility after Granny Wendy, Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) kidnaps Peter's kids and takes them back to Never Never Land, in an attempt to lure Peter back for one final end-all battle. Soon after the kidnapping, Peter is unwittingly taken back to Never Never Land by Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts). However when Peter finally arrives, everyone, including Captain Hook, is hugely disappointed at what Peter Pan has become; a fat, lethargic, coward who is deathly afraid of heights. In a desperate attempt to save the glamorous war that Hook so desperately wants, he grants Peter three days to get into shape. It's in these three days where Peter learns that there's much more to life than worrying, and that imagination is one of the keys to happiness.
For the most part, the acting is topnotch. Hoffman and Williams both deliver excellent performances, with the nod going to the eccentrically funny Hoffman who steals the show. Julia Roberts has a small role, and doesn't do a good job at impersonating the most famous, and sexy, fairy of all time. Sadly, her best moment was when she momentarily turned "big" and tried to seduce Peter one last time. Also making a flash appearance is singer/songwriter Phil Collins, as an English police detective, and a teenage Gwyneth Paltrow who plays the young Granny Wendy.
Hook is a fantastic story. And despite some of the cheesy costumes and fake-looking sets, it's a well-done movie indeed. Perhaps I can relate to the story more because I have two children of my own, but I remember loving the movie even before my little ones were born. The story is touching, and the special effects - though lame by today's standards - do a nice job at making you believe you're looking at the real Never Never Land.
Well, as with all Superbit titles, the real question is, is this version worth it? The quick answer is, not really. The original release of Hook had a wonderful video transfer, and this Superbit release doesn't do much in the way of improvements. If you own the first release, I'd say skip this version. If however you don't have the original release, and you own a high-end progressive scan TV, then I'd recommend the Superbit version. The improvements are subtle, but worth it if you don't already own the first release.
The most notable improvement is not with the video, but the audio. The inclusion of the DTS audio track is fantastic and may warrant the upgrade for some. But I stand by my previous advice. If you already own Hook on DVD, then there's no real reason to trade up to the Superbit Collection as the improvements are not worth the $26.95 list price.
Hook is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture is generally great, but so was the original 2000 DVD release. As with the previous release, Hook suffers from some slight edge enhancement halos, a little bit of graininess, and an overall soft picture. The increased bit rate of this Superbit title cleaned up the compression ever so slightly, but it's nearly impossible to tell unless you're viewing it on a extremely large progressive capable TV screen. I was able to do a direct viewing comparison with both versions on my 120" screen and it was hard to find any improvements. Colors are bright as ever, especially during the dinner scene with the Lost Boys in Never Never Land, and flesh tones looked excellent as well. This is a great looking DVD, but the improvements are hardly noticeable from the original DVD release.
As with all Superbit titles, we get our choice of a Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS audio tracks. The big news of course is with the DTS track, which is all-new for this release. And thankfully, the DTS track is a worthy upgrade from the Dolby Digital track that is included on the 2000 release. The rear speakers get more attention in the DTS track, and sound livelier during peak scenes. The score also sounds more full on the DTS track throughout the movie as well. Therearen't many scenes to wake up your LFE sub, but the few that there are sound nice and boomy, like the final battle between Pan and Hook. Overall this is a great sounding DVD, and you'd be better off listening to the DTS track over the Dolby Digital.
Superbit DVD's utilize all disc space for the sole purpose of video and audio excellence at the cost of losing space normally reserved for extra features. This ensures the highest possible quality for picture and sound currently available on the DVD format.
Hook may not be loved by everyone, but it's a wonderful heart-felt movie that delivers good family fun. Those with the original 2000 release will want to skip this one since the video improvements are marginal at best. But those new to the game who own a high-end progressive scan TV may want to consider this version since the original doesn't come with any real special features, and the Superbit title includes a fantastic sounding DTS audio track. Recommended