Saturday, July 05, 2008

REVIEW: Hancock


Year: 2008
Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, Jae Head, Eddie Marsan
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

The script "Tonight, He Comes" has been in studio trouble for as long as I remember. Its been passed from Warner Bros. to many other film studios until Sony finally grabbed hold of it. The script impressed the guys at Columbia Pictures and they decided to green light the movie which was later changed to Hancock. The movie has had a rough landing from the time it was made to the day it finally got released. The film was troubled with re-shoots and kept getting an "R" rating by the MPAA. The studio decided to cut a majority of the film and edit parts out to get that standard "PG-13" rating that action movies now a days tend to get. Not only that, but the movie has been getting criticized alot by many critics stating that the movie sucks. Now, I personally didn't want to see the movie because I knew it was going to suck, but alot of my friends are Will Smith fans and they wanted to see it.

Plot Outline:
John Hancock (Will Smith) is a drunken hobo endowed with special superhero-like abilities. He cannot be harmed in any way and spends his time trying to help people. Yet for all his seemingly virtuous intentions, he is clumsy and doesn't know how to control his powers. As a result, hes condemned by the citizens of California and all of the news media. But there is hope when an aspiring ad man named Ray Embrey and his wife Mary (Charlize Theron) see the potential in helping Hancock better utilize his powers and gain the approval of the world.

The movie starts off good with the slight introduction of Hancock drinking while trying to stop a hot car pursuit in a middle of a busy freeway. It continues to keep you interested in this story by bringing up the idea of having this drunken man with super powers being turned into a real superhero. This works pretty good until the second half. The second half feels so rushed like they had no time or something. We don't really get any origin to Hancock or how he came to be. Their is no character development which really makes the story seem "wasted". It also becomes alittle predictable when they keep making it so damn obvious that a certain character is in some way related to Hancock. I'm glad that Hancock isn't based on a comic book and that it looks like a fresh idea, but in reality it isn't. Its basically Superman only with Will Smith, but even than it doesn't come close to the creativity of Superman. The movie is also heavily focused on its jokes to keep you moving forward. While some work and tend to be funny, others just seem like there trying too hard. I would have enjoyed this story if they had payed more attention to it and took a more serious route. With that said, the movie does have some parts I enjoyed particularly when he stops those guys on the freeway.

Will Smith plays John Hancock and he does an alright job in his role. Being the main centerpiece of the film, its no surprise that he does a pretty good job. I'm glad that hes playing a more heart warming, but serious character this time around. Having said that, I still enjoyed his performance in last years I Am Legend alot more and thought it was his best. Jason Bateman plays as Ray Embrey in the film. I'm not really sure he was the right person to be playing this role because I just wasn't convinced by his performance here. He seems like hes trying too hard to make you laugh, but I think that's the scripts fault and not Bateman. We also have Charlize Theron playing as Mary Embrey. I also wasn't impressed with her performance here either. I kept thinking in my head how she doesn't belong in this movie. I would have personally went with some else for this role. Jae Head plays as Aaron Embrey. He doesn't really have a whole lot of screen time, but I guess hes fine for the scenes he does have.

The visual look of Hancock is kind of a mixed bad. The film being relatively new benefits from pristine source. There were no film grains that I could detect. Colors seem only slightly muted, but pretty vibrant overall. There are alot of outdoor shots during the day and they all have wonderful colors to them. Detail is good if not great through out the whole movie. Close up shots reveal alot of motion and clarity to the object. Charlize Theron has never looked this great. That being said, the CGI in the movie is probably one of the worst I have seen this year. There are alot of scenes where Will Smith is just flying around or trying to help someone and they all look pretty bad. The animation seems alittle off and maybe too loose in some shots. Lets just say, an average person could easily distinguish the real thing from the CGI. This is a real disappoint that Superman Returns looks better than Hancock when this film came out a full 2 years after Superman.

The soundtrack in Hancock is pretty good. The score is composed by John Powell who also scored other big hits like X-Men: The Last Stand and The Bourne Ultimatum. He does a pretty good job here with his work and one that looks pretty right for this film. My only nitpick would be that it isn't really used alot. I would have easily put his score in a few scenes here and there. Their are other music in Hancock, but most of them are rap/hip hop songs from various artists that you all might know. Hancock features some stunning bass work and one that I almost considered reference material. There are many action scenes in the movie that the bass follows through. While I wouldn't say its as grand as the one in The Incredible Hulk, but it certainly has enough kick to suit your home theater equipment just nicely.

Hancock is a messy film that some how turned out the way people didn't want it to be. The films story although pretty enjoyable at times is just bad and leaves you wanting answers. The cast is pretty good and they do their work accordingly even though some could have been replaced by other celebrities. The visual effects for the movie look pretty ugly and falls short of the 2 year old Superman Returns, but when Hancock isn't flying around or destroying things, the movie tends to look great. The soundtrack for Hancock is good and the movie has some strong bass here and there. Hancock was a bold idea that could have been something special, yet it couldn't deliver. I'm being generous here with the films review and is something to check out only because the movie can be somewhat enjoyable at times, but even than, Id encourage you to see something else.

Grade: C-


Mitch Harper said...

Yup it was definitely leaving questions. I just hated the whole Charlize Theron twist, I thought that was a joke. The comedy from Smith was great at first and then it goes to this love story that was confusing at times. Definitely a one and done film.

Great breakdowns though on your reviews. I'm gonna put your site on my blogroll. Keep up the good work!

Farzan said...

Thanks alot Mitch. Your blog is looking cool too

Monique Elisabeth said...

Intersting stuff about how it was in development hell, and kept trying to avoid the R rating... I didn't realize this was the script that used to be called, "tonight, he comes." Good review. Good points.

Rudy said...

Does Wil Smith have any good movies lately? The last one I recalled was ID4.

Farzan said...

To Monique: Thanks

To Rudy: Not to my extent, but he did give a really good performance in I Am Legend. Hes in alot of movies that I would consider to be decent or pretty good, but not really in movies that are great.

Jaccstev said...

Thanks for stopping by on my blog and for the comment too. I have to agree with your review on "Hancock". This isn't Will Smith's best while my most favorite one from the actor is when he showed his Oscar class acting just like what he'd gave to "The Pursuit of Happyness".