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Hancock: master thread


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New review... :shakehead:

The summer blockbuster season rolls on with the release of Will Smith’s anti-superhero movie, Hancock, on July 2. Here’s our review.

Will Smith is a fascinating character. He pretty much heads the list of Hollywood’s A-list megastars; bagging 20 million a movie, ranging across genres from comedy to action to rom-com (and winning big every time), while steering clear of bloated franchises (he’s done sequels, but ‘threequels’? Not yet, at least).

He’s a hugely charismatic onscreen presence in the mould of Tom Cruise, and yet, unlike Cruise, he’s no blank canvas. He exudes personality, oozes life: who else could have carried I Am Legend on their own shoulders?. When was the last time you saw him share credit with a co-star? Bad Boys 2? And that was a knowing joke.

But if Will Smith isn’t exactly resting on his laurels, it’s hard to know what kind of actor he wants to be. He dipped his toe in a couple of Serious Films at the turn of the century, but after they didn’t work out, it’s been fat pay cheques and big trailers all the way. But there’s always been a glimmer of hope with Smith. Even when sticking to the tent pole summer events, he’s toyed with the idea of good taste – channelling Asimov, Mark Protosevich and a true-life tear-jerker, where other stars simply stretched themselves in spandex. So even if the results weren’t always happy (and to be honest, they rarely were) Smith usually managed to come out of it all unscathed.

All of which brings us to Hancock, in which Smith finally tackles the superhero genre, but with his own idiosyncratic twist. Based on a script that’s been kicking around Hollywood for ages, Hancock’s time has finally come. Sandwiched between summers ruled by Superman, Batman, X-Men and more, John Hancock is the anti-superhero; a hard-drinking misfit, a loner, a loser, who tackles crime in LA with maximum prejudice and minimum regard for life, limb and property. When the disgruntled citizens finally snap, it’s up to Jason Bateman’s PR maven to guide Hancock’s rehabilitation and, inadvertently, lead him to his destiny.

Hancock is, without a doubt, the strangest movie of the summer. At its core is a story of a superhero without a nemesis – a superhero whose worst enemy turns out to be his own nature. You can be immortal, you can have the strength to crush trains with your shoulder, but how do you fight that? What kind of choices would you make, Hancock asks, if you emerged from a painful sense of solitary confinement only to find, after all those years, that the one thing that can help you understand yourself is the one thing that can also destroy you?

While there are other ideas artfully lifted from other comic book films (the question of how people would really react to superheroes in their lives comes from The Incredibles via Watchmen), this central, psychological conundrum is Hancock’s own. He most certainly isn’t the first superhero to show a psychological imbalance (the genre is pretty much founded on that) but he is the first to deal with this peculiar self-reflexivity.

But if Hancock makes some sort of sense on an inner level, externally, Peter Berg’s direction is all over the place. It’s hard to believe that this is the same man who brought such compelling urgency to The Kingdom (a film whose problems are a mirror image of Hancock: rotten on the inside, brilliant on the outside). There’s no authorial voice in Hancock at all, just showy, swirling camerawork and pointless slow-mo – the conceits of a man totally unsure of what kind of film he’s trying to bring to the screen. Likewise, the script flits between foul-mouthed one liners and setting up Hancock as a surrogate father figure to the obligatory cute kid, apparently caught between R-rated action and a family-friendly mentality.

The shots of Smith taking off and landing are excellent, but all the flying effects are hopeless, as is the film’s entire big-money sequence: an extended fight across LA.

By this point we’re into the film’s second half, where things have started to go seriously awry. It begins with a proper jaw-dropper of a twist that you won’t see coming. But after you’ve got over the shock factor, you realise that Hancock has just headed off down a blind alley. The Twist necessitates all manner of exposition that cheapens the character of Hancock himself, and diverts attention away from what was original, to what is formulaic and confused. Worst of all, the film had established its rules of reality, rules which it now goes on to bend and ultimately break in the name of dramatic expediency.

At 92-minutes, Hancock betrays the evidence of being a longer, more complex film cut by committee to leave something more easily marketable but less easily digestible. Is it genre-bending fantasy? Is it adult fiction? Is it foul-mouthed comedy? Is it simple summer fare? It’s none of these things to any satisfying degree, settling, in the end, for being a Will Smith movie, as before, as ever, but not with the conviction and clarity that we’d usually expect from that. The real victim (audience aside) is Eddie Marsan, whose role as a nominal ‘villain’ has clearly been butchered, leaving him flopping around like a stranded fish.

So Hancock, when all is said and done, isn’t a complete failure, but it’s a long, long way from being any kind of success. It has ideas, at least, although not all of them good, and not many of them well executed. One thing’s for sure, though: Will Smith will abide.


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sorry, dont want to make to many double posts, but...

More Hancock news (see, we're really excited). This clip has cropped up on YouTube and is apparently the alternative opening scene to Will Smith's rather unorthodox superhero flick. Loads of other great extras will feature on the DVD, and you can read all about it in a forthcoming issue of DVD & Blu-ray Review when we go behind the scenes with Director Peter Berg and the cast...


- I really hope that a directors cut comes out, and hopefully we get to see what this movie could have been like if sony wasn't so focused on getting tons of cash...

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sorry, dont want to make to many double posts, but...

More Hancock news (see, we're really excited). This clip has cropped up on YouTube and is apparently the alternative opening scene to Will Smith's rather unorthodox superhero flick. Loads of other great extras will feature on the DVD, and you can read all about it in a forthcoming issue of DVD & Blu-ray Review when we go behind the scenes with Director Peter Berg and the cast...


- I really hope that a directors cut comes out, and hopefully we get to see what this movie could have been like if sony wasn't so focused on getting tons of cash...

me 2 sounds like the movies a mess in its current state..

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"Hancock is, without a doubt, the strangest movie of the summer. "

I'm sorry that made me lol. I really hope they didn't ruin it, by trying to throw together a PG-13 flick. These mixed reviews are crazy, but I generally don't go by them anyway. I'm debating even seeing it in theaters, and that's kinda disturbing, because that hasn't happened since Bagger Vance came out.

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GQ.COM, Hancock Review Rating: *****

Quite the most bonkers blockbuster of the summer, Hancock is also by some distance the most enjoyable of the major studios’ “tent-pole” movies for 2008. It’s messier, more irreverent and, with a budget approaching $200 million, a far riskier and more exciting endeavour than formulaic, sure-fire winners like creaky old Indiana Jones and the lamentable Sex And The City.


The back-of-a-matchbook idea is Spielbergian in its brilliant simplicity, in the same way as “angry shark” and “friendly alien” were in their times. The two-word pitch for Hancock is “alcoholic superhero”, and that, apparently, is the bait that hooked Will Smith, still arguably Hollywood’s biggest box-office draw.

The set-up is executed with wit and dispatch. Misanthropic dipsomaniac John Hancock (Smith) is famous in LA for his superpowers, and also his churlishness and indiscipline. Often, while fighting crime, he destroys more than he protects, and offends more than he charms. Press, public and police – once stupefied, now jaded – have all had enough of him. When he saves the life of an idealistic publicist (Jason Bateman), the grateful family man diagnoses an acute attitude disorder and an advanced image problem. Both he reckons he can fix. Trouble is, the superhero and Bateman’s beautiful wife (Charlize Theron) seem somehow drawn to each other.

To explain more would be to give away too much. Suffice to say that, if anything, Hancock develops its nutty premise rather than shrinking from it. Throwing caution to the Santa Ana wind, the film-makers delight in the script’s barmy trajectory, and everyone looks to be having a great time – including, for a change, the audience.

The stars are among the most appealing currently working. Smith is irrepressible and dynamic, as ever; Theron is luminous and her gift for projecting emotion is undimmed; Bateman is a sympathetic everyman with perfect comic timing.

Director Peter Berg, whose last film was the frenetic The Kingdom, has the most restless camera in the business. Here he shoots his actors in twitchy close-ups, and then cuts to Google Earth perspectives on the action. There’s plenty of wham-bam CGI, but an occasionally claustrophobic intimacy is also achieved, ensuring that the film’s central theme – the ties that bind and sometimes suffocate – is well served.

Funny, bold, touching, and with a madcap eccentric charm one simply doesn’t expect from big-budget blockbusters, Hancock is a wonder.

Alex Bilmes


- Nice to hear a good review, and that from a movie critic!

Edited by viber_91
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Another review:

Rating: *******''**

So, following on from all the hooplah that surrounded the films controversial beginnings (if you don’t know what they are, we’re not getting into it here cos it’ll take too long, but lets quickly say that it was originally known as Tonight He Comes and would’ve been NC-17), Will Smith’s latest mega-expensive comes on the back of very little hype, as his unknown superhero gets released in the midst of big green meanies and men who like to dress up as bats or in iron.

Directed by Peter Berg, who seems to be Hollywood’s hack version of Paul Greengrass, and we mean that in the nicest possible way, but there’s only one person working right now that seems capable of shooting in “shaky-cam” and still have it look glossy and costly. On the back of edgy action flick The Kingdom he was brought on board this edgy action flick after Michael Mann (Heat) baulked at the budget but who now features as executive producer, which features Will Smith waking up in a hospital after a severe blow to head and now featuring super strength and the ability of flight. After spending several years doing the hero thing, he becomes an degenerate alcoholic through boredom, and after one public outcry one too many in reaction to his city destroying heroism, in steps Jason Bateman as a PR-man who makes it his one man campaign to change public opinion of the misunderstood and underappreciated super-man. Of course, things get a bit hairy as Bateman is married to Charlize Theron, who Hancock develops a serious crush on.


To say anything more about the plot would give away some interesting twists in the basic story, but needless to say it goes down a very entertaining route. Thankfully, Berg tossed out most of what made the original pitch so dark, and brought in a lighter, but still very cynical sense of humour, thanks mainly to Smith in a rare anti-hero mode, not to mention Bateman who can make most people laugh with the slightest facial twitch. Theron is underused for most of the movie, in terms of acting and general asthectic purposes.

The action sequences are very well done, the CGI is practically top notch, everyone’s acting is on-par, blah blah. But there’s still something missing, but something that is hard to put your finger on. For one thing, its too short, at just about 90 minutes, so either they lost alot of footage in the editing room, or they just squeezed too much story into too short a time. And there’s no big bad boo hiss villian. Whereas with more recognisible superhero movies this summer we’ve had Iron Monger, Abomination and soon to be Joker and Two Face, this film was already at a loss with not having a big name bad guy. But to not really have one at all is kind of a mis-step.

Apart from all of that, its still one of the better summer blockbusters so far, easily side-stepping some of the pre-existing franchises in terms of quality and scope. And its very open ended for a sequel, and if nothing else, fans of this one will be baying for the next one.

Seven Point Five Out Of Ten


And tons of new pics!
















Edited by viber_91
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A more in-depth explanation on the 12A/PG-13 rating (Spoilers):

HANCOCK is a fantasy film about a down-and-out, anti-social superhero, who learns to channel his powers to help his community. It has been classified ‘12A’ for moderate violence, strong and aggressive language, and crude humour'.

Much of the violence in the film is very unrealistic or comic, with a few moments of stronger, and more personalised moderate violence - such as when Hancock throws an armed store robber through the glass door of a liquor cabinet, and gets shot in the chest. There is also quite a gritty fight scene at a hospital, with brief sight of a knife being sunk into someone’s back, and a whack around the head with a fire extinguisher. However, the lack of much blood, or focus on gory details of injuries in such moments means that the action was considered permissible under the BBFC Guidelines at ‘12A’, which state 'Violence must not dwell on detail. There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood … occasional gory moments only’.

A single use of strong language by the hero serves to initially characterise Hancock as an irritable, borderline-alcoholic bum. Such use is permitted under the BBFC Guidelines at '12A', which direct ' The use of strong language (eg '****') must be infrequent'. More moderate language, such as ‘bitch’ and ‘asshole’ are also allowed under the BBFC Guidelines at ‘12A’, and an occasionally aggressive use of these is also a symptom of Hancock’s early, ‘bad attitude’, which he gradually learns to improve.

Hancock's final threat, when someone is rude to him, is that of sticking the offender's head up the 'ass' of his cohorts – an act he carries out on two aggressive thugs in prison. This is a comic scene, with Hancock’s actions not shown on screen – just in the exaggerated facial reactions of the onlookers, and some comedy sound effects and music. There is finally a brief and farcical sight of one man with his head supposedly buried in the other's backside, which looks completely unrealistic. As both men are seen alive and well afterwards, the slapstick crude humour was felt to be acceptable for ‘12A’ audiences.


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In support of the forthcoming Will Smith film "Hancock," which itself is not based on an existing comic book, Sony Pictures has commissioned a number of noted comic book artists to create faux comics-style cover artwork depicting the titular super-powered character in action. Those approached include Jock, Neal Adams, Darwyn Cooke and the venerable Bill Sienkiewicz, who provided CBR News with this first look at his contribution.



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