Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Hancock was a mystery to me. Before I went in, I really couldn't tell if the movie would be good or not due to some iffy trailers. But, in keeping with the recent trend of not showing too much in the previews (like Wall*E and Wanted), Hancock took a left turn by featuring scenes that weren't even hinted at in the initial trailer. Man, I love it when that happens.

Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Will Smith, Jason Bateman, Charlize Theron

Directed by Peter Berg (The Kingdom), produced by Michael Mann (Collateral) and Akiva Goldsman (I Am Legend), and with an all-star cast, this movie has some serious talent attached to it. According to Wikipedia, the script was written way back in 1996 and has been bouncing from director to director ever since. Going through a couple of rewrites before finally hitting the big screen, Hancock gives the audience a unique take on the superhero genre. In today's competitive marketplace where films based on comic books are being greenlit before the comic even gets released, it's nice to see a legitimately original concept make it to the screen and still incorporate that "summer" feel to it. [It's always good to feature superheros when you're going for that "summer" feeling.]

When it comes down to it, I thought Hancock was enjoyable. Every aspect of it certainly wasn't original (we've already seen a hero who drinks too much in The Punisher), but the one twist they threw was totally unexpected and I didn't see it coming at all. I wasn't too impressed with the acting from an otherwise-proven cast, but that was because none of their characters were particularly likeable. Will Smith's Hancock was a patronizing alcoholic jerk (don't call him that other name!) for the first half of the movie, and the character almost seemed too dumbed down for Smith to embody. I know, it may be laughable to say that about someone who made his career as The Fresh Prince, but Will Smith has grown into one of the most bankable actors working today. He has a great business sense and he knows how to throw himself into a role (see: I Am Legend). I just think that Will Smith (the actual guy) is a lot smarter than Hancock (the character), and it was hard for me to connect them because the perceived intellectual difference was so distant between the two. Jason Bateman was kind of whiny and not overly funny, and Charlize Theron (beautiful as she is) just gave weird looks to everyone for the first 45 minutes.


The funny thing is, you might have forgotten that Charlize was in the movie if the marketing people had their way. Her name was noticeably absent from most of the ads and her presence in the trailer was almost nonexistent. That's a strange tactic from an advertising standpoint when you've got an Oscar-winning actress in your cast. But like I said above, I think it served the whole film for the better. I was genuinely surprised when Mary threw Hancock through her front wall. I mean, I'm sure we all knew that they had met before based on their CONSTANT glances at each other for the whole first act, but I didn't even consider that she had powers as well. Nice touch. And while that whole shtick got a little My Super Ex-Girlfriend-ish, it still had its moments. The history of the heroes, for one thing, really set this film apart in my mind. The concept of the two of them being the last remaining heroes on Earth left as an "insurance plan from the gods" is awesome. They've been stomping around the world since who knows when, and they don't age. This also allowed for some cutesy dialogue at the end about Attila the Hun and other historical figures.

The problem (of course, there's always gotta be a problem) with Hancock for me was that it was a bad mix of reality and fiction. We're supposed to believe that these two people have been around for thousands of years, living across the world in different times, but yet we've never heard of them before? They weren't reported on in history books? Captured by the early days of photographs? Chiseled onto a cave wall? Nothin'? There were times when it was supposed to be completely believable that this bum superhero was living in LA saving people and causing general disarray while doing it. But then there were times like the fight scene at the end that mirrored Transformers in the scope of its destruction. Hundreds of people must have died because of all that fighting. There was rubble EVERYWHERE, and that storm probably didn't help matters any. But these were little problems that can be easily overlooked based on the subject matter we're dealing with.


Hancock was decent as far as superhero movies go, and it's always fun to watch Will Smith on the big screen. We saw a sneak peek yesterday, so I'm not sure about it's theatrical performance yet, but I'm sure it'll make a lot of money and bring back "Big Willie Weekend" in full force. Hopefully this will give the studio execs a little elbow room and allow them to put out this kind of new material mixed in with the established titles in the future. In a summer of sequels and big blockbusters, I think Hancock will do just fine. Until next time...

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