DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
NOT A PART OF OUR COLLECTION
May Contain Spoilers!
Will we be adding this to our collection? NO
Spielberg is one of my favourite directors, so this review is going to be tough. Where did he go wrong? Spielberg is not a man who likes to take the easy road and as such it is inevitable that when he takes on a project of such literary significance, such as the J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan, as he would later do again with H.G. Wells’, War Of The Worlds (2006), he would look at other avenues for telling the story.
He chooses to firstly entitle the film Hook, after the villainous lead, even though the story follows Peter Pan more than Captain Hook, and to take the story on to the present day, in which Peter, the boy who would never grow up, did just that. It’s an interesting take, there’s no doubt about it, but the film begins to fall down right here, in the opening act.
Peter Banning (Robin Williams) as he is now calling himself, has forgotten all bout his life in Neverland. Wendy (Maggie Smith) is now an old woman and Peter is married to her Daughter and the couple have two kids. Oh, and Peter is now a workaholic. It looks as if he was right all along and growing up was not for him because he’s an ass! And when you open a Peter Pan film with the star being thoroughly dislikeable, you need to pull something pretty spectacular out of the bag to save him and in turn, the film.
Well, he didn’t. Hook, an unrecognisable Dustin Hoffman, kidnaps his kids, forcing Peter to return to Neverland and remember his true identity and lead The Lost Boys in an assault against Hook to finish him off once and for all, and save his children in ten bargain.
The shmaltz has been turned up to eleven. The wishy-washy Spielberg redemption tale is on overdrive as Pan resists his true persona and spends most of the film being an awkward and arrogant grown up, with The Lost Boys fighting over whether to follow him, or his successor, Rufio (Dante Basco). It’s a frustrating watch and one without any of the clout of the source material.
Spielberg and his writers have taken the classic and tried to put a new, modern slant on it, to tackle the same issues of growing up without truly understanding the point, in my opinion. The story is bent on justifying why Peter Pan shouldn’t have grown up. The fact that he becomes this boring man with no sense of adventure is just contrived and is there to justify a plot which says that its great being a kid.
Well, yes it is great being a kid, then you grown up and if you get it right, you balance your inner child with your responsibilities. In an opening scene in which his kids are annoying him whilst he’s on the phone and he snaps at them, I remember feeling at the time, when I was 12 or 13 years old, what was wrong with that? Is this film suggesting that adult responsibilities should be put on hold whenever a child wants our attention?
It’s crazy and naive in my opinion. The film’s humour is below par and is production designed to within an inch of its life. Overall, there’s little to rave about here. It’s acceptable, it’s watchable as a family film but hardly a classic nor Spielberg’s best work by any stretch. For a much better live action version I would recommend Peter Pan (2003), a film which seems to correct the many mistakes, missteps and misjudgments of this effort. Though I do commend their courage in attempting to reinterpret this classic. It was just a shame that it hit such a bum note.