‘Hancock’ Superhero Drag?

I love Will Smith–from the Fresh Prince days to the present, love him. So naturally, being the Will Smith fan that I am I made my way into Hancock over the 4th of July weekend.

Hancock, for those who haven’t bothered with a trailer, is a movie about a man with superhuman strength, but who’s more lazy and drunk than iconic with a red cape. The point of the movie is to see the hero’s transformation from delinquent to dashing hero.


Will Smith plays the ‘drunk for most of the movie’ would-be superhero, Hancock. I think Will is a great actor, and I loved him in recent films I Am Legend and Pursuit of Happyness, but I thought his acting, although not necessarily terrible was nothing memorable either. His role consists of being drunk, showing a disinterested attitude, being drunk, showing some social awkwardness when trying to turn over a new leaf, and being drunk. Maybe he just didn’t get any sleep during the entire making of the film?

Charlize Theron plays Mary Embrey, wife to Ray Embrey and without spoiling too much, a significant player in both the lives of Hancock and Ray. She handles herself well, but her character only gets minor development and while potentially could have been more interesting just turned out to raise more questions than answer.

Jason Bateman plays Ray Embrey, a well-meaning, kind of “go green!” PR guy who wants to change the world starting with Hancock. I’m most familiar with Jason from Arrested Development and he has a similar sort of personality here, and played the part of comic relief well. Out of all of the stars, his performance was best, though still not the best we’ve seen from him.

You can’t really say “too predictable” about a superhero movie plot because they’re all built predictable. Superhero realizes his powers + villain appears + final showdown where hero wins = superhero movie. Ironman had this same predictable plot line, but that isn’t the point. The point is in being original in how you get there–or at least interesting. I think a bit too much time was spent in the beginnings stages, and not enough payoff in the end.

Two ways to go with this story: 1) focus on the back story of Hancock to set up the end, or 2) develop a villain strong enough for a final showdown. Neither of these things took place, so we’re left with a mediocre movie. All we learn about Hancock is all we learned about jumpers and paladins in Jumper (Paladins kill Jumpers, duh! *sigh*). The writer gave us a little information with no real explanation which added little to the story except to make you wonder why it was put in at all.

The villain they sort of kind of sort of made–Red (Eddie Marsan)–wasn’t much of a villain at all. His biggest crime was being the disfigured bad joke.

From the previews you’d think you’d be bowl full of jelly laughing–at least in a dark way–and while there were several memorable moments (“You should sue McDonald’s for ****ing you up,” the French kid getting thrown miles up into the air, and the youtube video inclusions were great), I found myself waiting for the movie to finally get going–even when I knew we were at the end.

I guess if this was the first of two or three movies it could sort of work the way it did, but a first movie should be able to stand by itself, independent of sequels (think the first Matrix or Star Wars–a New Hope, not the Film Menace).

Parents: Be warned, this film is filled with as much PG-13 language as a movie can get away with, bad behavior, and little to redeem itself for the young kids. Unless you’re bringing teens, leave the kiddies with the babysitters.

Die-Hard Will fans: You may enjoy a couple moments here and there, but it isn’t Will’s best, not even his 7th best. Do a matinee, but don’t pay full price.

Regular movie-goers: You may want to skip this one, at least until it makes it to a second-run movie house or DVD. Save your superhero going for Dark Knight.

Rating: C-

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