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Hancock (Two-Disc Unrated Edition) (2008)

A movie directed by Peter Berg

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The First Half Isn't So Bad... But the Second Half... What Happened?

  • Sep 2, 2009
Rating:
+2
Hancock takes a daring approach to the Super Hero mythos.  Where as most superheroes are actually quite heroic, doing what it takes to save those in danger and be all around good role models for kids... John Hancock throws all that out the window and instead opts for a surly, mean and careless superhero who has no charisma whatsoever.  Did I mention he's played by The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? 

Yes, Will Smith plays the drunk, rude and quick to anger superhero.  He has super powers and is essentially the only one of his kind.  When Hancock saves the day, no one is concerned that he's saved lives, they're more concerned about all the property damage and whatnot that's he done.  This is demonstrated in the movies opening moments where he takes a vehicle full of bad guys and leaves the vehicle  on top of a skyscraper.  The damage is shown and he's berated on the news by a whole bunch of people for it. 

This is where Ray Embrey comes in, and he's played by Jason Batemen, who seems to be built specificially for these kind of parts.  He's a PR guy who ifinds himself in trouble.  Specifically he's about to be hit by a train.  That is until Hancock swoops in and saves him by stopping the train.  Of course, no one is concerned about Jason Batement.  Nope, they're pissed off that he destroyed a train.  That poor goddamn train!  Who can blame the crowd?  That train probably had a family.  Lots of cabooses and... you know what, I'll just say it... that really actually doesn't make any damn sense at all!  But the reason why it doesn't actually comes a little later on in the movie. 

Feeling like he's in debt to Hancock, Ray decides to help improve Hancock.  By turning him from a surly mean drunk into a respectable superhero.  When Ray introduces Hancock to the family, his wife, Mary (played by Charlize Theron) is not pleased at the project that the man has taken on.  Ray still persists in helping Hancock anyway.  He tells Hancock that he proabbly shouldn't swear, that he needs a wardrobe, and that he has to be careful with his take offs and landings ("Your landings are your handshake," he says).  First things first, Hancock has to agree to go to jail for all the damage he's caused... and stay there.  Hancock does this, and grudingly so.  The convicts don't like it because they're in jail because of him (but the people still feel worse for the goddamn train he destroyed).  But while Hancock is in jail crime skyrockets because there is no one there to stop it.  So they come to realize they need Hancock.

A situation takes place in which a man named Red Parker has gone to rob a bank with a bunch of other crooks and is holding some hostages.  Hancock is the only one who can stop the situation.  He manages to do so by being a bit more responsible.  HIs landing is soft, he defuses the situation with grace (sort of...) and saves all the hostages.  And he does it without causing too much property damage.  Suddenly everyone loves Hancock and Red Parker is put behind bars.

If only that was where the movie ended.  But if it did you'd realize you were only sitting in the theater for around 45 to 50 minutes (somewhere in there).  If the movie had actually went on this idea of a Superhero who needs to improve his image, that might've made for a good film.  Instead there has to be a secondary plot that explains so much more.  Suddenly it feels as though the film is just stacking things on in order to make sure they have a long enough film.  Ray's wife turns out to have the same powers as Hancock.  "Wow," I thought, "they could make her the villain."  But they don't exactly do that either.  Instead it goes deeper by giving us a sort of backstory on Hancock, a backstory on Mary and constantly stacking more things on that don't make too much sense.  Including a battle between Mary and Hancock in the middle of the streets in which a ton of buildings and property damage occurs but no one complains then.  So let me get this straight... Hancock destroys a train... that's bad.  Hancock and another super woman destroy an entire city block... that's fine.  Granted they're panicking, but no one says anything about it later (or comments that there's another woman out there just like Hancock).

But the worst part is that the Bank Robber... Red, who's only part in the film was to get his hand cut off, suddenly rallies up a bunch of guys in prison and decides to go after him.  It is unknown how they learn of Hancock's unusual weakness (I won't give it away here, but it's ridiculous), but what's more ridiculous is that they try to play Red off as being the main villain, but he hasn't played much of a role in the movie to be worried about being a threat.  In fact, you get the feeling the director just plucked him off the street and said, "You're the bed guy..."  But unlike other villains we see in other films, we don't learn much of anything... he hardly even has a motive or anything like that.  It's a bad thing when you see a Superhero movie and the villain feels tacked on.  I'll admit it, I like to see the villain as much as I enjoy seeing the hero.  A Superhero is only as interesting as his adversaries are.  We like to see Batman do battle with the Joker, for example.  We enjoy seeing Spider-Man battle Dr. Octopus or the Green Goblin.  But we enjoy seeing the villains because they seem diabolical and daring.  Hancock's villain just feels like he was thrown in there so that Hancock could battle someone.  The only real danger is that Hancock is losing his powers for one of the most absurd reasons any Superher could lose his powers.

The first half of the movie was actually pretty good.  If the entire film had been played on this angle of Hancock trying to improve his image as a hero... then it might've actually been "different" for a Superhero movie.  But when it suddenly devolves into being the same basic Superhero film... it doesn't actually do a good job at all.  A tacked on villain, a sloppy backstory for our two super powered people... the second half feels like a mess.  But I guess in order to get a good length they had to do something with it.  

At the very least Will Smith gives a good performance.  So does Jason Batemen.  In fact, much of the cast does a good job... if they're not throwaway characters.  Some of the special effects are also pretty good.  There's hardly much to complain about in terms of the films special effects and cinematography.  Most of the production values are pretty good.  It's the story and script that are fumbled here.

The first half is very good.  In the end, however, the first half is only there to set us up for the disappointing and nonsensical second half.

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January 02, 2011
I pretty much agree with you here, but I did like it a tad more than you did. Nice review
 
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More Hancock reviews
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A constantly drunk and slovenly superhero was a refreshing take on superhero movies. Will Smith and Charlize Theron both had very strong performances. I personally liked the surprise twist.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
It's really sad because the first 35 minutes of this film are witty and charming, then it just goes downhill from there with plot twists and, well, just a disaster.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Hey H'wood: just because Will Smith's movies make money doesn't mean they're any good. Give it a rest.
Quick Tip by . July 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A good non generic super hero movie. I suggest watching it.
review by . January 08, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Dvd cover
Superman was raised by a kindly couple and taught the decent way to live and respect life. Thor is the God of thunder who was exiled from his home of eternal Asgard to live on Earth as a mortal so that he may learn humility. Spider-man required personal tragedy so he could realize the responsibility of having powers--Batman deals with his tragedy in a very different way, for him he does what he does for vengeance. All comic book "super-heroes" have their stories of the "why's", …
review by . January 22, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
"Hancock" is an oddity, both the title character and the film as a whole. Instead of a typical superhero story that includes an origin story, a sinister villain and a love interest, we are given a tale of a lonely man looking for his place in this world (as well as an origin story, sinister villain and love interest).     Will Smith portrays the title hero (anti-hero) who drinks, swears and does more damage to the city than the criminals he's after. He simply doesn't want to …
review by . November 27, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
This film was better than I anticipated. The first 3/4 was excellent. Well paced. Good story movement. Some good jokes and laughs. Pure unadulterated humor / entertainment. The last 1/4, well it went a bit down hill. When we find out about Charlize Theron, it just kind of drones on a bit.     The effects are good. The sound is good. The DVD looks good. Will Smith is fun here. And Charlize is in fantastic form.     Definately not a film for kids, mostly for …
review by . September 08, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
I don't know what others expect of this movie but I thought it was good! Will Smith rarely disappoints and 'Hancock' is certainly no exception. Is it because there is a great story but it's not necessarily a non-stop action flick? This movie delivers on so many fun levels and I think it is really balanced well. It's not perfect but perfection is quite rare. Regardless, this movie is fun entertainment.    Director Peter Berg, who last brought us The Kingdom, dip into with plenty …
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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