Monday, July 7, 2008

Hancock Explodes Box Office, Implodes Onscreen


Release: 07.01.2008
Rated PG-13

1 hour, 32 minutes

Second-Run Seats ($$) <
> Matinee ($$$)

Will Smith (I Am Legend) stars as Hancock, a super-powered being sorely in need of an attitude adjustment. After rescuing Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman, Smokin' Aces), "the Bono of public relations", Ray encourages Hancock to turn over a new leaf, to give the public a reason to value his help and not scream bloody murder over his costly messes. Hancock's curmudgeonly ways stem from his belief that he is alone, but he soon learns that he is not as unique as he believed, a revelation that comes with a hefty cost.

Director Peter Berg (The Rundown) takes on a bold project that establishes a superhero property steeped within the confines of reality and not the more traditional lore of DC or Marvel comics. Establishing a history, conflict and redemptive path for the surly Hancock proves to be more of a challenge than Berg and writers Vincent Ngo (Hostage) and Vince Gilligan (TV: The X-Files) could manage. Instead of a display of
grandiose feats, audiences are treated to frenetic camerawork and too-close visuals that explore the actors' nasal passages more so than their emotions and interactions. The story has a similarly jarring effect to that of the shaky lensing. The tale's reckless swelling and ebbing make it difficult to understand or even locate a plot at times, and rushes to wrap up the climax and other key points when time is needed.

Kudos to Smith, Bateman and Charlize Theron (Aeon Flux) for establishing rich characters that rise above the story's chaos. Bateman does the best job to me; yes, I am a fan, but his performance shows why he deserves the praise.

Dirty Undies
The sheer level of devastation and property damage by Hancock is astounding. In this case, the PG-13 rating manages to elevate the violence by cutting away from the conflicts, leaving much to the imagination. Villains thrown from buildings tens of stories high have little chance of survival if you ponder the aftermath of Hancock's actions. Berg couldn't resist visualizing Hancock's favorite threat in the prison, which to me would have been better left to our own imaginations. When Hancock's not performing feats of illogical and stupefying proportions, he's boozing and cursing. The word 'asshole' is spoken by folks of all ages, and to show his rough edges, Hancock even tosses out an abrasive 'fucked' to an enraged crowd.

You can't go wrong with Will Smith as a healthy hunk of man meat, though he doesn't give off that vibe until he gets a trim and a new attitude. Likewise, the statuesque Charlize Theron goes from cute doting housewife to fever-inducing fox with just a touch of dark makeup and tight jumpsuit.

The Money Shot
The saving grace of Hancock was that there was no competition to keep it from setting holiday records despite being a mess of a film. Never quite resting long enough to tell a thoughtful story and never revved up enough to be popcorn-munching adrenaline fluff, it settles into an nauseating, woulda-coulda-shoulda rhythm. Hancock succumbed to its greatest weakness, sacrificing substance over style.

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. Right after Hancock gets called out of prison, they leave everything that had been built up to that point behind. It's too bad. They had a great film on their hands up to that point.

  2. I too was really enjoying his earnest efforts at redemption. It became a jumbled rush once he was called upon to help the city while trying to create him a villain and a backstory. They should have taken a sideplot out or made the film long enough to contain all the finer points.

  3. I've got the original script "Tonight he comes". Hopefully its better than the shooting script.

  4. Let me know how it is. I'd love to know how much was changed from the original idea.

  5. He wears a cape in Tonight. When I finish it, I'll let you know the other differences.