jpark’s review published on Letterboxd:
Man, I really wish I had seen this as a kid. It's Spielberg's love letter to childhood, complete with the overbearing sentiment and awkward close-ups on some terrible child-actor's faces. It's true, Spielberg's biggest crutch throughout his career is sentiment, and Hook is no exception to that. But it feels a bit more warranted here, a bit more belonging in this narrative. My biggest issue with this film (and many, it seems) is the kids. Almost across the board, just terrible acting. And to make things worse, Spielberg feels the need to linger on their damn smiling faces for what seems like ten second increments, despite their inability to convey any emotions aside from confusion or baseless happiness. The Lost Boys are the worst part of this, and Peter's quest to belong with them is Hook at it's weakest.
However, when Spielberg turns his attention away from Neverland and onto Peter, the film soars (sort of). Spielberg, over his career, has proven to embodies the Pan ideal himself, indulging in whimsy, free-spirited adventure and the very thing I just maligned him for, sentiment. But there's something beautiful in Spielberg's reimagining of the Peter Pan tale, in that Peter ultimately finds his happiness, his freedom not in reclaiming some sort of lost innocence, but rather embracing fatherhood. The tale of Peter Pan is one of my favorite, it's always been extraordinarily beautiful and fascinating in my eyes. Hook manages to capture much of that, but Spielberg's ultimately convoluted methods for telling this story hinders much of it's power. If I had seen this as a kid, this would likely be a nostalgia favorite.