Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

US movie (1991). Columbia TriStar/Amblin. Pr Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Gerald R Molen. Exec pr Dodi Fayed, Jim V Hart. Dir Steven Spielberg. Spfx Michael Lantieri. Vfx Eric Brevig, Industrial Light & Magic. Screenplay Hart, Malia Scotch Marmo. Based loosely on the books by J M Barrie and on Peter Pan (1953). Novelization Hook * (1991) by Terry Brooks. Starring Dante Basco (Rufio), Caroline Goodall (Moira), Dustin Hoffman (Hook), Bob Hoskins (Smee), Julia Roberts (Tinkerbell), Maggie Smith (Wendy), Robin Williams (Peter). 144 mins. Colour.

Years ago Peter Pan fell in love with Wendy's granddaughter Moira and determined to stay in our world and grow up. Now he has forgotten his former existence and is a predatory US corporate lawyer. Hook reaches from the Alternate Reality of Never Land to steal Peter's children. Wendy knows what has happened, but Peter refuses to believe such "nonsense"; he is still disbelieving when Tinkerbell comes to fetch him away to the rescue. Hook taunts him with the children, then sentences him to death; but Tinkerbell reminds Hook of the glory he would have if he defeated Peter in war. Given three days to train her man, she takes him to the Lost Boys, now led by punkish swaggerer Rufio, who resents the intruder. Peter's training goes badly, because he has lost his imagination. He gets it back in perhaps the most interesting of many good fantasy sequences in H: a feast is served to the Lost Boys, who devour joyously, but all Peter can see are empty plates; Rufio starts to twit him, and this develops into a full-scale flyting, which Peter, after a slow start, wins through the imaginativeness of his insults; with that, his Perception shifts so that he can at last see the gaudy feast and, amid a wild food-fight, he discovers also several of his old Pannish qualities, notably use of the Sword. There is further progress – he remembers the art of flying through locating a Happy Thought, the birth of his son Jack – but now Hook, egged by Smee (played by Hoskins in direct imitation of the character in Peter Pan [1953], so that he becomes almost a three-dimensional Toon), is in process of seducing Jack away from his real father, presenting himself as surrogate; Jack begins to forget who he is ... but all ends well.

H was much disliked by the critics, who regarded it as a cynical exercise. In fact H is probably overextended at its end, but elsewhere for the most part this Crosshatch fantasy bubbles along imaginatively and involvingly. Although there are some moments of quiet sensitivity, as a whole H refreshingly lacks subtlety or delicacy – which is as it should be, for Barrie did not design his original tale for sissies of either sex. [JG]

see also: Never-Never Land.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.