Ken's Review: Hancock - Loses Its Power in the Second Half
by Ken Evans
July 4, 2008
It isn't very often that I'm completely split over a movie, but Hancock has managed to put me in that exact position. Usually a film is just good, just bad or average with good and bad scenes mixed together throughout the movie. What completely separates Hancock from other movies is that the first half is great and quite enjoyable; I liked just about every part. Then it passes the midway point and goes crashing down into a muddled, confusing and illogical mess. I can't think of the last movie that I could literally split down the middle and really enjoy one part while totally hating the other. Not exactly the 4th of July weekend movie I was hoping for.
John Hancock (Will Smith) is a depressed, drunk and irresponsible superhero living in Los Angeles who has amnesia. Protecting the city and its inhabitants from evil doers isn't exactly his top priority. Even when he is trying to do good, he ends up destroying property and endangering the same people he is supposed to protect. Although he brings many criminals to justice, the citizens of Los Angeles call him a menace to the city. Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) sees something in Hancock and offers his services in public relations to try and clean up Hancock's image. In the process, and with the help of Ray and his wife Mary (Charlize Theron), Hancock ends up learning who he is and why he acts the way he does.
I hope that plot summary doesn't give away anything, but it exactly sums up what happens. Basically it starts with a great concept and something we haven't seen before in a superhero movie character besides maybe Wolverine. Hancock is Wolverine without the "cool" factor and a thousand times more selfish. Then Ray Embrey gets a hold of him and starts turning him around. He cleans him up, teaches him what people expect from him, and even creates an outfit for him to wear. Then you see the new and improved Hancock in action and it was really cool! The whole idea of a strung-out superhero going through rehab captured my attention and had my excitement building for the first 45 minutes. Why is he so hard on himself? Why doesn't he care? How did he get his powers? These are the questions I was asking in my head and I was truly excited to get the answers.
Then the second half started and it all came crashing down. From there on out there was nothing I liked. I got the answers to my questions, but not the ones I would have expected or wanted to hear. The answers come out of left field and are completely ridiculous, even for a superhero movie. The first section of the last half is like watching Hancock talk through his problems with a shrink. Doesn't exactly sound exciting and surprise - it's not. The second section of the last half is completely illogical. There is a long, drawn-out scene with Hancock in the hospital where he goes in and out of having his powers. Supposedly, this has to do with his proximity to someone else in the hospital but doesn't make sense because he never had problems with his powers any other time he was around that person. You can try and argue that losing his powers was a slow process, but as soon as he starts running away he gains them back. There also was never a villain throughout it all! It was a movie with no climax and no reasoning other than to make us watch as Hancock sorts through his personal issues.
In spite of the story, the cast did a pretty good job. I'm already a Will Smith fan and this didn't hurt my appreciation for what he can bring to a movie. He has that unique ability to play funny and light hearted and switch it into serious and heartfelt in a moment's notice. Jason Bateman was great as well! He was perfect for the role of a guy wanting to honestly change the world. I love him in everything and can't wait for an Arrested Development movie. I have to admit that when I first saw Charlize Theron in 2 Days in the Valley, I didn't ever expect to see her again. She was good in Hancock, but nothing extraordinary.
As much as I enjoyed the first half of the film, the second half completely destroyed the experience I had at the beginning. I would like to say that I could only recommend seeing this after it comes out on DVD, but I know that a lot of people will enjoy it in theaters anyway. They will be able to get past the major flaws and ridiculousness of the second half. Not to mention, it's basically the only film getting released this 4th of July weekend, besides Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, which I know nothing about. Hancock is a mess of a film and definitely the worst 4th of July release since Wild Wild West.
Wow! Am I the only person who though it PICKED UP in the second half? Not picked up but I saw MUCH more potential in this as a drama than a comedy.
Ryan on Jul 4, 2008
My thoughts EXACTLY! Ken, my good time was sabotaged when the so called twist was revealed. Then the flick derailed like the train scene in the 1st half. The twist was not necessary as it just rambled and the Theron--"too close you'll lose power" idea was terribly incoherent. I really wish the flick would have just been about Smith's character alone. The two halves felt as if they were comprised of two separate flicks. Those on the fence about seeing this one should just wait and see "Hellboy 2: The Golden Army" next week!!! I'm sure this one won't disappoint!!
Spider on Jul 4, 2008
Yeah, it was meh in the second half. I really couldn't bring my self to care. I read this review and I agree that the movie was trying to do two things at once and couldn't bring it together well.
Rob G on Jul 4, 2008
I thought it was solid all the way around. Very funny.
Tirrell on Jul 4, 2008
I keep reading and hearing that the second part of the movie is somehow bad but I didn't think. I don't want to reveal any spoilers but although Hancock's origin is a little strange and over-the-top, I think it sorta fits into the movie. And to the comedy aspect of the movie, I think it was definitely written as a comedy with some strong dramatic development but I never found myself just sitting in the theater without a minor chuckle 🙂
neoKn on Jul 5, 2008
I thought it was okay. I too wasn't thrilled with the 'origin' explaination of Hancock. Never was concrete enough for me "you might've gotten your powers this way" thing was kinda lame. Now that I think about it the powers going in and out at the end was a bit messed up. I like the characters getting pissed when someone called them a certain name, lol. The very end was cool though. It seemed a rushed though...like they could've used more time to flesh everything out. I don't think I'll see this again or buy it on DVD.
JeepFu on Jul 5, 2008
im not a critic guys,but it seems that not all the people saw the same movie,i just saw it and i liked a lot.so far this movie is making bank as his previous efforts.in general i think that the critics hate his movies,but audiences follow him wherever he goes.
jtr on Jul 5, 2008
Hm one of my friends told me his prediction of the plot after TEN minutes and it was true. How bad can a film be, that it is so predictable. Hancock wasn ot especially good, but all in all very funny. I want to see Will Smith because of his comedien aspect, the action one is just an addition. But well who would not like Charlize Theron in that slutty outfit and perfect body... 5.5/10
Banthas on Jul 5, 2008
Thats what happens when you cut out the dark tones and everything else to make more money over PG13
REAL6 on Jul 5, 2008
Hated this film. Such a rushed and hack job that makes the recent "Superman Returns" film that much better. Two halves that did not mesh together and obliterated the tone. As likable as Will Smith is, he can produce total crap and his audience will still be there. Whatever happened to reasonable expectations from our favorite stars? People should just see "The Incredible Hulk" instead as it was a much much better movie all around.
Pickle on Jul 5, 2008
while i think it dropped in terms of plot and story in the second half i dont think it was horrible or bad for a superhero movie the two close to each other is to weird for you? and a green glowing rock isnt? i think what would've made the second half better a major threat (that related to Hancock's origin) i mean an actual bad guy and more defined origin for Hancock him just being on earth didnt work for me my mother compared it to Highlander but that works on a different level then Hancock. True this does make Superman returns a much better movie and something that should've been (what number 2 in the superhero movies coming out this year 1. dark knight 3. hellboy 4. punisher 5. iron man 6 incredible hulk (not that i think iron man and hulk were bad movies its just that they were fun and while a dead on for the characters i just think hellboy (who i have never read) and punisher will nail every thing about the character and i prefer darker characters anyway) comes in dead last i think the problem is it doesnt live up to its own hype and thats why some people seem pissed with the movie
Samuel on Jul 5, 2008
I pretty much agree with everything said, but Theron is a good actress go rent 'Monster' truly great performance. Now back to Hancock, yeah the second half was a downer but I kinda want to see more of this character I took my son and he loved it.
PimpSlapStick on Jul 5, 2008
I would agree that the second half created a few plot holes, but I would have to disagree about it ruining my enjoyment of it. It was a decent film.
Sean Kelly on Jul 5, 2008
Mr. Evans got it completely wrong. It's as he was expecting this to be just another brainless comedy/action movie and he's disappointed it's actually a great movie. Here's why: the first half is a light comedy/action movie. The second half really develops the characters, reveals who they are, and opens up into a really beautiful, cool (and perhaps sad) love story. The first half is light and superficial, as most other action movies (by the way, I thought movie critics are not supposed to fall for the superficial). The second half is serious - but no less entertaining. It explains who and what Hancock is, and ... well it's really hard to talk about it without revealing the plot, and the plot is so unexpected that I'd rather not spoil it. Ignore the critics and go see it for yourselves - it's a great movie.
alan r on Jul 5, 2008
Yes! Go see it and then kick yourselves over how the second half just kills all the momentum and enjoyment the 1st half generated! We all pay hard earned dollars to be entertained no to be disappointed nor disillusioned about a film that loses its focus on what it wants to be and does a piss-poor job of meshing two different halves together!!! If you want to see a good Will Smith movie, rent, "The Pursuit of Happyness" or "I Robot". If you want to see a really consistent, enjoyable comic book movie that does not disappoint, then watch, "Iron Man" or "The Incredible Hulk". If you have already have then wait for "Hellboy 2" or "The Dark Knight". Your choice!!! 🙂
Pickle on Jul 5, 2008
I thought it was a good movie, granted I expected a good climax but I have seen other movies that have not really had a climax that were good as well...Xmen for instance.
Jfk on Jul 6, 2008
Second half was just as entertaining. I dont really see why you have to chop it in two halves. It does not do any 180 spin anywhere exactly. I think most of you were disappointed not to see the HULK Iron Man type of film. So far this is the only film this Summer that has got better reviews the longer it is released. About the fact that there wasnt eny villain. This is not a supeman type of flick either. As I said I think you expected somethink else when you went to see it.
Shige on Jul 6, 2008
"eny" --> any
Shige on Jul 6, 2008
I think this movie rocked. i laughed a lot. and u guys have to understand the most important idea of the movie wasnt hancocks origin, it was the present and the future of the character. they tried to make this movie different, (seriously, what superhero movie doesnt revolve around the origin of the superhero?) I think this deserves at least an 8/10 and i really enjoyed it. and remember its not a normal "Superhero Film" so stop comparin it to other like that.
Joel on Jul 6, 2008
I enjoyed it. It wasn't quite what I was expecting (or maybe wanted) but few movies ever turn out to be. I think people were dissapointed because of the Excellent trailer. I had zero interest when I saw the first one, but the later ones were so well put together that I had a raging nerd-boner for this flick. Honestly, with that in mind, I'm not sure where exactly my expectations for this movie came from. What also didn't help is all the information leaked about the original script. Would I have preferred that movie? Yeah, probably, but it wasn't getting made...not with our rating system and the studio's inability (most of the time) to strike a balance between ratings, perceptions of "bankability" and giving us the movies we Really want to see. So, taking it for what it is versus what I thought it should be, I found it to be very entertaining and worth my trip to the theatre.
wetworks on Jul 7, 2008
So anybody was in for lowbrow cgi-laden crap and as soon the movie got substance and brains you got bored? i think i can live with that. Says more about you popcornshitters than the movie.
Marc on Jul 7, 2008
the movie wasnt that bad and i can understand what people are saying about the mvies halves maybe there will be a sequel to clear the air about this movie, sorta like they did with the matrix
jintoku on Jul 7, 2008
This movie was killed by the Director Peter Berg and the Cinematographer Toby Schliessler. These two "Made for TV" hacks obliterated any ability to connect with the story. I give the actors huge thumbs up for putting on great performances, even though the cameras weren't able to capture them. I have never seen such repetitive tight blocking for almost ALL of the dialog in the first act. I am talking about blocking so tight that not only do we lose the actors forehead (typical for rare moments to show intense emotion) but also their CHIN! And this was almost all of the introductory story dialog. My 10 year old also noticed that these guys could have run down to Wolf Camera and picked up a few tripods. The shaky camera has its place in cinema as well, but not during normal plot development dialog. The 360 around the wife in the opening act was also a new method of foreshadowing I haven't seen before... Mack Truck foreshadowing. Way too many 360's. Towards the end there, how many revolutions did we get around Hancock? Three? Four? The three acts barely fit together. The movie tried to bite off way more than it could chew. One major problem that comes to mind... They lose their power when they are together, so they "can fall in love, grow old and die", and ... they lived together for centuries?!? Act three could have been chopped off altogether. Seriously, back to TV for you guys... http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000916/
Andrew on Jul 7, 2008
Yeah title says it perfectly, second half it got pretty lame.
D on Jul 8, 2008
1- The movie was great ... and I mean it ... because the movie was made just for entertainment and it get more than it ... I don't know and I don't understand how you divide the movie into half good half bad .... I didn't feel any let down or boring moment in that movie ....specially when Charlize appear with her power and what you mean by extraordinary ? What you want from Charlize to do more than what you saw ??? 2- The CGI was perfect and a lot of people were out there crying day after day and saying : The CGI were bad or cheesy .... but I don't see them now saying a word about it why ? The only not real CGI was the scene when he fly out of the jail for the basketball and jump in again ...but again it was not that bad ... 3- and for Peter Burg ...I saw The Rundown (2003) , The Kingdom (2007) , Hancock (2008) and I like these movies a lot ...and I think he is good director ...I will not get into the technical stuff of making movies and Camera movements ...because a lot of rules has been broken in movie making and I don't think they were such a big problem in the movie ...
Shero on Jul 10, 2008
I see no difference in the twist on the second half compared to Indiana Jones. Both are a great blend of comedy, drama and science fiction. I guess everyone with negative comments had wanted to see more sex, blood and hear some profane language before they consider it to be a good movie. I took my kids and they enjoyed it. It was targeted for all audiences and I think it have a good balance. There are other sides to a movie than a plot. I am sure everyone who saw this film had at least 5 moments of laughter.
Perry on Aug 4, 2008
wellli like caca
sexybeast on Sep 11, 2008
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