a critiQal film review Hancock (2008)

Plot: With great power comes great responsibility - everyone knows that - everyone, that is, but Hancock (Smith). Edgy, conflicted, sarcastic, and misunderstood, Hancock's well-intentioned heroics might get the job done and save countless lives, but they also always seem to leave jaw-dropping damage in their wake. The public has finally had enough, but Hancock isn't the kind of man who cares what other people think - until the day that he saves the life of PR executive Ray Embrey (Bateman), and the sardonic superhero begins to realize that he may have a vulnerable side after all.

633 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 9s)
  • ...all the fun of the first half is almost completely erased by an incredibly lackluster second act.

The king of 4th of July weekend box office, Will Smith, is back again with Hancock, a new take on the superhero movie.

When I first heard about this film, I heard it had a plot-line that included the superhero (Will Smith) starting an affair with the PR guy’s wife (Theron). This seemed a bit odd to have in a superhero movie, since viewers aren’t likely to root for the guy having an affair, now are they?

Once the theatrical trailer hit, however, I was hooked. From the scenes shown, Hancock looked to be hilarious from start to finish. I still was unsure about the whole “affair” thing, but I was hoping that would be a bit part, and the hilarious hijinks would be the main gist of the film.

Will Smith doesn’t seem as enthusiastic about the Hancock character as he usually is. Instead of his normal grin, most of the movie pastes him with a dour expression. Of course, his character is full of self-loathing, so the nonplussed looks fit in, but it’s still quite a change. As the film progresses, he has a chance to show more of himself to the audience, and does a good job trying to keep them tuned in.

Jason Bateman is at his best in Hancock when he’s actual doing his PR job. He seems to see Hancock as the ultimate challenge in PR, and plays the straight man quite well to Smith’s sourpuss. Sadly, Bateman gets away from the PR aspect in the second half, and is soon shunted off to the side in favor of other characters.

Charlize Theron, as the PR guy’s wife, seems much more important in the film than she should be. With a look that falls somewhere between her role and her role, she seems too much of a part of the script right from the very beginning. Maybe it’s her background in , who knows…but still, she should have been shunted to a much more minor character, and let the friendship between Bateman and Smith take up most of the screen time.

The first half of Hancock is exactly what viewers will expect from the trailers. It’s hilarious and goofy, and real fun to watch. Unfortunately, after a surprise twist that seems totally thrown in last minute (and comes nowhere near something called “plausible”), the film degenerates into an utter mess (and no, the twist is not an affair).

The twist is so idiotic – and so unexpectedly turning the movie in a whole new direction – that it causes the viewer to want to hit the pause button to figure out what the heck just happened. Of course, there is no pause button in the movie theater, so the audience spends a good couple of minutes trying to catch up. Unfortunately, even when the audience gets caught up again, the movie has turned into something so bad they’ll wish they hadn’t.

The special effects are decent, although it’s sometimes peculiar to see Hancock flailing his arms and legs while hovering in the air. That’s probably not a fault of the special effects, however – it’s just a weird sight to see.

If Hancock had been able to stretch it’s first half to take up all of the screen time, it would have been worth seeing in theaters – and another notch in Will Smith’s 4th of July belt.

With such a bad second half, though, viewers will leave the theaters wondering why Will Smith signed up for the role at all (is he really that desperate to play a superhero?) – and they definitely will not be back for seconds.

Definitely a poor effort from both Will Smith and director Peter Berg (). Don’t see this one in theaters – save your money and wait for the DVD.

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