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", the "how's" and the "what's". Director Peter Berg's "HANCOCK" is a spin on the super-hero genre, together with the screenplay by Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan they present a hero not adapted from any line of comic book myth. The film has all the elements of a comic and exudes "popcorn entertainment".
John Hancock (Will Smith) is a man with tremendous powers, he has chosen to use these powers to help people but he has been labeled as a menace in the eyes of the public. He befriends a public relations specialist named Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) who encourages him to be "nice" and stop acting like a jerk. Despite the protestations of his wife Mary (Charlize Theron) not to get too close, Ray and Hancock forges an uneasy relationship. Hancock is a guy who has no idea exactly how he came to be--he's an immortal with no memory of his past. He is, however, about to find out….
The first act of the film fleshes out the frustrations and anger that Hancock suffers. He is brash, careless, irresponsible, rude, hot-headed and well, a lot arrogant. He carelessly uses his powers to help but for some reason, the people he helps ends up disliking him. Power without responsibility and the ability to use wisely is indeed a menace. He wreaks destruction to property and his exploits prove too expensive for the city so a warrant for his arrest is issued. This aspect has been explored in Marvel's "Civil War" which required registration for super-beings. For in the real world, property damage is a major obstacle for super-heroes. (no wonder they wear masks) The film is sort of a "coming of age" movie, as the character of Ray Embrey becomes his sort of a mentor--ironic that a mere mortal could teach him the ropes of "super-heroing". The film is sort of a social affair and fleshes out the feeling of alienation to those who are different. There is one major plot hole or a perhaps more of a question in the film, a being as powerful as Hancock can be affected by alcohol or does he just act as if he is so impaired? What does he do for a living?
The film is more than your "run of the mill" comic film, it does attempt to find a soul. The origins of Hancock is quite interesting and while it is a tad underdeveloped (no doubt a set up for a sequel) the script does offer quite a few surprises. The film does have a sort of a "love triangle", no doubt to please the female audience. The mystery of Hancock is actually the film's most effective selling point and opens up to a lot of potential, it manages to achieve this for a first installment. There is a touch of tragedy in the film's final act as Hancock has to choose and sacrifice. It is a bit predictable but nonetheless it manages to maintain its forward momentum since the groundwork had been carefully laid out. All heroes have a weakness--this one is sort of a fail-safe for god-like beings. That weakness may be a little undefined and underdeveloped but it was interesting to get some emotions going.
The special effects are quite impressive. The flights and exploits of Hancock is pure eye-candy as he crushes and destroys property. I especially loved the scene when he stopped a locomotive as it is a clear example of his single-minded purpose with no regard for anything else. The superhuman fight is quite fun to see but it was just too much special effects that it lacked definition of the combatants. I rather expected a more dragged-out fight than a minor display of special effects. The film has some nice touches of humor--that prison scene that involved two inmates is very amusing although a lot far-fetched and unbelievable. One thing I have to say, Hancock has to watch himself carefully when he has sex.
Will Smith has definitely matured as an actor since his "Fresh Prince" days. The man can indeed act and while it is the same acting style as in his previous movies, he did fit the character. His performance may not be on par as in "The Pursuit of Happyness" but he made best with whatever he had to work with. Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman proves a competent supporting cast; Theron is still as sexy as ever and Bateman is the usual "nice guy" with integrity.
Overall, "HANCOCK" is a lot of fun. The film is very enjoyable and entertaining; while it does have its flaws, the script managed to keep me interested for its entirety. The effective twist is sort of a tragedy and played a key element on its success. The direction by Peter Berg manages to keep an amount of restraint that I commend him for doing so, since some scenes had the dangerous potential to become heavy-handed. The effective chemistry between its performers and the nicely paced action sequences makes it a fun popcorn film. I am pretty sure there will be a sequel since Hancock's character had just started cooking and if there will be a "Hancock 2", consider me all in.
Video/Audio: 2.35 ratio anamorphic widescreen. The image is very good but it looked a little soft on some scenes. I think studios aren't mastering Dvds in High-def for full Picture potential anymore to push the Blu-Ray product. It's a good image but it could have looked a lot better. Maybe it was meant to look this way? The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio is very powerful and fits this kind of movie.
Extras: making of/production notes/seeing the future feature about its storyboard and concepts/Effects concept/backgrounds
The unrated version has an added scene to display Hancock's prowess in bed and contains some more profanity. The added scenes may not add anything significant but it does add a more humorous and gritty feel.
Highly Recommended! [3 ½ Stars]
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