As a sheer barrage of audiovisual stimuli, Hook on laserdisc is state of the ooh-aah art: Whooshy noises flit through the Dolby Surround soundtrack faster than Tinkerbell, and when Dustin Hoffman’s buck-toothed Captain Hook steps up to the camera, scads of teeny feathers in his cap undulate sloooowly. You can’t help but focus on dead-end details, since the script is a bramble of New Age platitudes about ”the Pan,” an adult Peter (Robin Williams) reclaiming his inner child.
In fact, Hook is so bloated and infantile that it’s a shock to rediscover the lean, witty, story-driven feel of Steven Spielberg’s first two features, newly showcased in letterboxed discs. As cops chase a doomed jailbird couple through Texas in The Sugarland Express and three hunters track a great white shark in Jaws, every brilliant touch — the play of music under words, the grouping of characters across the frame, the kinetic camera movement — relates first to character, not spectacle. Spielberg the brash young wunderkind was no lost boy, but he sure has become a lost man. Sugarland: A- Jaws: A+ Hook: C-