Kevin's Review: Hancock - Missing the Super in Superhero
by Kevin Powers
July 3, 2008
With the battle for superhero supremacy at the box office this summer, there's obviously going to be a film that brings up the rear. Midway through the season, we securely have that last place decided, and it is Will Smith's Hancock. Despite Smith's superhuman credentials, Hancock struggles to rise above messy special effects, an ill-suited director and a supremely bumpy storyline. While indeed there are funny moments, the film stumbles around in confusing fashion, much like it's liquor-loving lead character. Drunks can be funny at times, too, but they're more often sloppy and loud, much like the film.
Will Smith stars as the degenerate, conspicuous superhero who cares little for people or property, reluctantly getting involved in emergencies only when it suits him. Often, his rescues cause more damage than they prevent. In one of those instances, Hancock destroys an entire train and the surrounding area in order to save Ray (Jason Bateman). Thankful, Ray offers to lend his PR craftiness to the widely criticized superhero, promising to turn his image around. Charlize Theron plays Ray's wife, who, along with their son, Aaron, help to break down Hancock's bum-like, hardened exterior. The superhero learns such things as how to softly land without destroying roads and complementing others' work - Hancock's real superhuman feat is telling another "good job."
These earlier scenes are where Hancock is most enjoyable due in no small part to Smith's forthright swearing. When Hancock threatens to put his "foot up the ass" of a leering, elderly woman, you can't help from busting out in laughter. Same goes for a bystander that accuses him of smelling of liquor. His reply: "That's because I've been drinking bitch!" How Hancock has a PG-13 rating is a bit of a surprise, considering the various F-bombs Smith drops.
Equally surprising is the director's effort. Peter Berg's intimate, coarse directorial work on The Kingdom was fitting and well-executed for the action and subject matter. Berg brings a large amount of that flavor to Hancock, pairing style and substance like socks and sandals - the combination just doesn't work. Hancock begs for blockbuster polish and bow-ties, smoothly shot scenes of suspense that wrap up nicely, which take the audience for a pure popcorn ride. Instead, Berg resorts to tight shots, hand-held cams and disorientating special effects. Berg's sensibility for gritty realism and an air seriousness and drama - Theron and Smith do know how to emote - just doesn't work for an off-beat superhero that drinks and swears. Hancock should be fun and flashy, not studied and emotional.
Where the film equally falls down is in the plot. While Hancock starts off as a tale of a lonely, bitter superhero trying to love himself and others, it abruptly morphs into a story about Hancock's purpose and origins. Either plot line by itself would be fine, but the joining of the two is done with shoddy effort. At just over an hour-and-a-half, the team could have spent more time sanding down the stories' seam, but that wouldn't have helped explain the bizarre bad-guys after Hancock. Led by a less-than-imposing Eddie Marsan (Mission: Impossible III, Miami Vice), the troupe of villains is never developed and feels totally contrived. Hancock has another more meaningful force to battle, but we'll leave that detail in the film.
Despite Hancock sitting solidly in last place on the chart of superhero movies out this summer, the film will still do well. Smith has an installed base that will venture out to see Hancock, however sub-par it might be. Fans of Smith will enjoy the special effects and comedic quips, while genre followers will be sadly disappointed. For those who now feel let down, be like Hancock and go have a drink instead.
Reader Feedback - 28 Comments
Oh no I expected this Michael & Rita reunion to be good,but oh well.
twispious on Jul 3, 2008
Hancock looks like interesting spin on the latest superhero movie craze... if nothing else at least Will Smith tends to be pretty funny
patrick on Jul 3, 2008
Sorry, I think your review is a little of. I actually enjoyed Hancock. It is not on the same lines as an Ironman or the Hulk, but I don't think it was meant to be.
sukini on Jul 3, 2008
@ sukini - really? Based on most of the trailers, it seems like they are positioning it just like a lot of superhero movies (flawed hero gets down and out and then comes back to save the day).
chris on Jul 3, 2008
This movie was very good.. I totally disagree with the review.. It was different, how things worked with the pairing & 4 once the villain, didn't have to be a SUPER villain.. He was just a "bad guy" trying to seize a good opportunity.. I hate wen superheroes always get a supervillain.. Its a 1 & a billion chance that it will happen & then u make it 2 in a billion (excluding iron man & T.I. Hulk) whose supervillains did make sense.. But it was more grounded & I like how he was hated & in turn he hated back & said wat was on his mind no matter how obnoxious it was. Point in case the old lady staring at him, all the movie needed 2 be was longer; 92min isn't long enough for that type of movie at least 110 to 120min long.. Gr8 movie unlike "I am Legend" now that was a let down, not completely but a major let down.. They could have done so much more..
warnpeace21 on Jul 3, 2008
the movie obviously gets points for originality and Hancock's bluntness was pretty refreshing...but beyond that, there wasn't much to like. the cinematography was was *really* off for this kind of movie, the dramatic moments were equally out of place and the special effects were pretty lame -- an overabundance of dust & debris and dizzying fight sequences that amounted to nothing. I definitely laughed, but that doesn't translate to liking the film on the whole. that whole Nancy Grace bit was supremely lame, and the Theron storyline was so transparent I felt as if I was being deliberately guided down a wrong path and that there was a bigger surprise in store. turns out there was -- surprising that Hancock was such a let down. (of course, the competition this Summer makes Hancock look that much worse)
kevin powers on Jul 3, 2008
I agree with you Kevin! The movie started out good then midway just became a train wreck--just like the one in the film. I was extremely disappointed that all the good stuff was in the trailers. The twist totally sucked----not necessary at all!!!!
Stinger on Jul 3, 2008
Hancock= 1st half good + 2nd half terrible! This is one for video! Beware!! I sure hope there will be no sequel to this! I can't wait for "The Dark Knight"!
Pickle on Jul 3, 2008
While I do agree that fighting sequences were a bit Transformers like I think the CGI was done quite well. Especially Hancock flying. I dont know it I am thinking too much about the absolute awful Superman returns flying CGI but Id imagine that if I ever gained ability to fly I would do exactly likse Smith and not superman - with a fist 1 feet ifront of my face and a leg in a chihuahua pissing position. 6/10 for a popcorn flick.
Shige on Jul 3, 2008
i think the movie was good. the CGI was not the best but the story line Carries the film. 7/10
05a88 on Jul 3, 2008
The movie was crap, Hancock is not a "superhero", there are so many plot holes and contradictions that made it a terrible viewing experience.
The Marcus on Jul 3, 2008
This movie was pretty good actually. I kinda feel like this film is being reviewed based more on the inside baseball of the movie's production rather than the actual film itself. This thought that whatever might have been would have been better and that the changes sucked is great but whats actually there isnt really that unwatchable. This was an entertaining movie and an quasi original idea. Even if its far from perfect, watch it for what it is and enjoy what you can. A movie thats not a sequal or a remake and we throw it away cause its gone through the same studio process that practically every movie goes through? I just dont understand it.
amaranthisasin on Jul 3, 2008
As much as I love movies and always try to be fair all around, I really wish the filmmakers nor the studio hadn't tinkered with the flick. I do agree with the other posters who hated the 2nd half or the revelation of the twist. The flick started off good and if the filmmakers had kept the focus on Hancock's journey the flick might have been a lot better. IMO the twist really hampered the movie severely and the costume was ripped off of the "X-Men" series! I really can't wait to see "The Dark Knight".
Spider on Jul 3, 2008
honestly, it wasnt that bad. i mean i read all the reviews before going to see it and thought i was gonna be let down. movies like this are meant to suspend reality and it definitely did that. get outa here
Yea Yea on Jul 3, 2008
This movie needed more running time. It just felt like it rushed to the ending. And the ending ended up feeling pretty sketchy because of that. Too bad, had potential, and Will Smith is cool. And damn, Charlize Theron is beautiful.
Discateia on Jul 3, 2008
It all depends on the attitude you had when you entered the theatre. I saw it with some buddies and we were just there for a good time, nothing serious. With that being said it delivered and entertained us with Smith's blunt remarks and profane attitude. If you wathced the movie expecting to see a well developed hero story that was your first mistake. Watch it knowing that its a funny bullshit Will Smith movie and you will be happy when you leave the theatre. I do agree the first part was better than the second part. But seeing a movie that was funny and comical with some origanal scenes and dialogue was refreshing. With That being said i believe it deserves a better rating than 5/10. Lets be honest here, it was much better than The Happening.
Arnold on Jul 3, 2008
Funny! I went in pretty giddy about having a good time but the twist killed my good time. It felt like when the channel is flipped midway through an entertaining movie! The funny Will Smith B.S. shtick ends midway when the stupid so called twist is revealed. That said. There was no need for a twist. Keep the attention on Smith and have his character continue his personal journey instead of slapping a sappy no good 2nd half that feels so contrived and forced! What a way to royally screw up a POTENTIALLY kick ass movie!!!!!!! ****Luckily, I was warned about "The Happening" and I didn't see it!
Pickle on Jul 3, 2008
#16, more running time?? For what? More Theron/Smith bickering and fighting?? The screenplay was a hack job that not even an extra 1/2 hour nor 1 hour would have saved it!!! I should have passed on this.
Wiseman on Jul 3, 2008
However---thank goodness for "Hancock". Now Spiderman 3 is no longer the worst comic book movie in recent years.
Wiseman on Jul 3, 2008
You people are way to critical of movies. I don't know why you all can't just enjoy a movie without trying to be so damn critical. Yeah, it failed on some points but the movie was still good. You build it up and build it up and then all of a sudden... people are knocking it down and around. What did you all want out of the movie!? Seriously, what would you have preferred? The movie was good and if your looking for something to do i suggest you check it out. You wont be over disappointed , like some of the more critical movie goers on this site. Hancock was a good movie. Not great but it was worth the money and time.
Hea on Jul 4, 2008
Reading this review was a much bigger waste of time.
RancidVenison on Jul 4, 2008
I have to disagree with the review. I had my hopes for this one and I was pleasently surprised by the outcome. I mean it's not everyday we see a superhero acting like Smith and returning from the "dark side". It's a change the superhero movies were in desperate need of and the great thing about it... we even got to laugh about it. A trully enjoyable experience was seeing Theron's acting in that type of a movie, I felt myself sad she was going to die, which means she did her part quite good. Same goes for Smith, he fits quite well in any role given to him. Definitely an A+ popcorn movie experience, hope they won't come up with any sequels, though.
Orli on Jul 5, 2008
Honestly, I don't know what you guys are on. You think this was worse than wanted? This was great! I was really worried this was going to be another, "I am will smith: product placement" movie, but there was barely any product placement at all! And he really turned down the will smithitude for the role, which I'm grateful for. And it had a lot of really good story elements in it, because anything ironic is a good story element these days. The super hero who doesn't give a crap meeting the pr exec with a heart of gold? Irony, thy name is Hancock. And when's the last time we saw an African American male lead opposite a Caucasian female lead? I can't remember where, but I read an article saying how rare that is. Usually it's white on white or black on black, or white male with black female to look exotic, so you have to give them points for stepping out of that boundary. And I didn't think the two plot points of Hancock's morals and Hancock's origins were separate at all, I though they fit together nicely. I think over all the movie did a nice job of farcing the general comic book movie genre and doing something creative and entertaining.
Josh on Jul 7, 2008
Bosses, I think many of you were being critical just for the sake of criticizing and were influenced by the review. Make your own decision. The movie was a good entertainment and not on the usual 'superhero movie' track. That was refreshing enough for me.
kc8407 on Jul 11, 2008
Haha, Michael and Rita, I hate to say it, but she was cuter on Arrested, I guess i'm just a fan of MR F
Norkie on Jul 12, 2008
Personally I loved Hancock. I'm a self confessed comic book geek and a huge fan of the genre and thought it delivered on all counts. The cast was superb and the story worked despite the two reviewers opinions. The Dark Knight set the bar about as high as it can go in relation to superhero/comic book movies however Hancock is no Dark Knight nor does it aspire to be. Take the movie for what it is, a fun enjoyable big budget blockbuster that actually delivers. Dark Knight is rightfully a 10. Hancock deserves at least an 8.
Smiffy1 on Aug 2, 2008
i know im a liltte late on this one but i finally rented this movie, and i frigen LOVED IT, i mean honestly it wasn;t the greatest superhero movie but there are honestly more bad ones greenlit the good ones and this one i my opinon goes inthe good ones, smith does what he does very well and thats act is frigen ass off and i loves the plot, its gonna be a sick spin off, sorry my dude you were off on this review......
ill will on Dec 19, 2008
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