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Hancock: master thread


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New positive AICN review:

I'll tell you this much: it's a very satisfying movie.

You're going to come out of it feeling like you've just spent a worthy ninety odd minutes in a cinema. I know that shouldn't sound like high praise, but I've sat through a few too many eye gougers this year, and any movie that makes me glad I made the effort has automatically done its job.

Part of this is to do with the fact that this is the exact right perfect time for this movie. This is a time where the general public is so used to the idea of superheroes and origin stories that a -- let's face it -- largely unknown character like Iron Man can still draw people in because they understand how it all works. It no longer matters if they have a childhood connection to the character, or he's steeped so deeply in pop culture that everyone kind-of remembers what his symbol looks like. The Superhero Movie is a genre unto itself, and Hollywood is now in a position to start its postmodern examination of its characters.

Just as twenty odd years ago the comic book industry was ready for "The Dark Knight Returns" and "Watchmen", the movie industry is now ready for HANCOCK and, well, WATCHMEN. From the very opening of HANCOCK, we're shown the equation without any unnecessary fanfar: our world + superhero = this movie. Got it? Good. HANCOCK, shockingly, treats the audience with some respect, which is one of the reasons that the first twenty minutes or so is so damn flawless.

I'm actually going to start talking about Jason Bateman first, because to me, this film was as much about his character as it was about him. Bateman has shamelessly stolen nearly every film he's appeared in recently (which is particularly good news if you're sitting through MR MAGORIUM wishing something would come along and entertain you...). JUNO (as with "Arrested Development") managed to avoid this by somehow finding actors who operate on the same level. There's something great about seeing Bateman interact with the Charisma Force that is Will Smith, especially when Smith is doing some of his best blockbuster work in a long time. Looking back over Smith's filmography, I'm surprised to discover that the last film of his I truly enjoyed was MEN IN BLACK. (It says something for the man that he can keep appearing in films I dislike and I can keep citing him as an actor I love.) Similar, the oddly underrated Charlize Theron takes a role that could have so easily been utterly ridiculous, and grounds the slightly-silly plot developments through sheer force of, well, talent.

The problems with HANCOCK are also its strength. It suffers from having too many great ideas. Highlighting this is the fact that these great ideas are realised really well. The concept of a superhero who answers to no one? Tick. A superhero willingly submitting himself to jail and self-help groups? Tick. The story of redemption? Tick. All of these "what ifs?" are handled with expertise. The only thing that lets them down is that they seem to jump too quickly from one to the another. There's not enough bridging work. Like the DVD you're watching it on randomly skips every sixth chapter.

That's the only thing that stops this Very Good Movie from being a Great Movie. Well, actually, I had some problems with the score. Most of it is excellent (kudos to the John Williams SUPERMAN throwback), but far too many scenes feel as if composer John Powell was constantly being given the note: "It's good, but can you give it 70% more whimsy?". It's a bit too light in scenes where it shouldn't really be light, and it's more of a distraction than it should be. But, like I said, most of it is excellent, and, as should always be the case, the excellent parts are the parts you don't usually notice.

HANCOCK is, like its titular character, not without its flaws. (Oh, snap! Can I have a job now, Variety?) It is, however, very, very good, and it's not going to leave your head the moment you leave the cinema, like so many other big films. At a time where blockbusters suffer from easy dismissal by being wedged between other blockbusters, HANCOCK actually benefits from squeezing between IRON MAN, INCREDIBLE HULK and THE DARK KNIGHT by sort-of cleansing the palette and showing you these guys from a different point of view. And for that reason, love it or hate it, it's a film that's definitely worth seeing.


There's another review on the same page, but that was just a short rant about how bad Will was, and that the movie sucked... No real info...

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New positive AICN review:

There's another review on the same page, but that was just a short rant about how bad Will was, and that the movie sucked... No real info...


I laughed out lout when I read your post viber:)

"Look and read carefully this glowing and positive review of Hancock....there's another one but that one is negative so who gives a s**t about that? " :)

I love how "objective" we all are on this forum about Will's movies :D

I do the same thing just in case anyone takes offence in what I just wrote.


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New positive AICN review:

There's another review on the same page, but that was just a short rant about how bad Will was, and that the movie sucked... No real info...


I laughed out lout when I read your post viber:)

"Look and read carefully this glowing and positive review of Hancock....there's another one but that one is negative so who gives a s**t about that? " :)

I love how "objective" we all are on this forum about Will's movies :D

I do the same thing just in case anyone takes offence in what I just wrote.


Haha, well... I'm still hoping that this movie will rock, right now it seems like the big plot development halfway through is just something you'll either go with, or you won't. But that second review on AICN was quite bad, sure, hancock could be a big pile of crap, but saying that "this movie was one of the biggest pieces of **** I've ever seen" and that Will is "laughably bad" as hancock doesn't make the text a real review. Atleast variety and HR had some deapth to the text and could explain why...

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Another review:

If you’ve been searching around for reviews of Hancock, the new superhero flick from director Peter Berg which stars Will Smith, Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron. Chances are you came upon the blasting the film took in the Latino Review a month ago. I’m not sure what movie they were watching, but the studio has definitely made some cuts since then. The R rating has been dropped to a PG13, which in this case probably helped the film.

If you’re looking for a superhero film, let me warn you, Hancock may not be what you’re looking for. I suggest catching Iron Man or the Hulk again, or if you can wait, Batman and Hellboy will be here soon enough. There are superheroics in Hancock, often with hilarious results, but it’s not the meat of the movie, or even what drives the film forward.

Hancock is a movie about people first and foremost. The best way I can describe it in comic terms is where all the other hero flicks (excluding Hellboy) are primarily Marvel and DC associated. Hancock comes off like something from a good indie publisher or DCs Vertigo line. It doesn’t need to follow the superhero script but dabbles in it just enough where I could understand the movie confusing some people.

Hancock does make quite a turn in the 3rd act, and I applaud their decision. This film could have easily become an afterschool special treading down a safe and easy road of personal redemption or failure. It could have heavy handedly beat us down with yet another message of responsibilities and heroics. Instead we got a superhero movie with no super villain, no end of the world scenario and no real gimmicks.

The basic story is this. Will Smith is John Hancock, a being of extraordinary powers who drinks too much, feels compelled to do good, but is too angry and lonely to care how.

As an aside, I’m not sure if Smith or director Peter Berg had planned on evoking an image of our own returning vets, but I kinda got that vibe. Regardless of your feelings on the War, and I think most of us are in the same frame of mind. Men and women are sacrificing everything. Many who do return home find they have no home to come back to, losing their jobs and their families, they are greeted with scorn and contempt for taking part in an action too few support. If nothing else they deserve our compassion. I’ll get off the soapbox now.

Hancock meets Ray Embrey a Public Relations man who wants to save the world, but can’t get any backers for his pet project since it requires corporate sacrifice. Ray devises a way to clean up Hancocks image, which of course requires personal sacrifice on Hancocks part. Hancock reluctantly agrees, and that’s about all I can tell you without giving anything away.

I will tell you this though. The trailers downplay Charlize Therons role in the film, but the story of Hancock is definitely about 3 people. Most hero films spend as much time if not more introducing villains and telling their origins than they do with the actual hero. (did we really need Green Goblin in 3 Spiderman films?) Problem is most of the villains origins just aren’t that interesting. Since Hancock has no villain they spare us the exposition and give us more of what we want. Screen time with what may be 3 of the most charismatic screen presences today.

Will Smith has proven he could carry a film on his own and his turn as the besotted Hancock allows him to be as funny as he is tragic. What do you expect from the only guy on a tv sitcom you ever wanted to hang out with.

Jason Bateman always delivers and he has great chemistry with Smith. The scenes where he is training Hancock to be gracious are hilarious. You really believe this regular Joe has the force of conviction to stand up to an omnipotent being and tell him like it is.

I could write chapters on Charlize Theron. She always surprises me, and I almost never recognize her from one role to the next. Her turn here as Rays wife Mary is as heartbreaking as it is surprising.

Hancock has its share of action sequences, some of which are too hastily edited, but that seems to be the trend these days. The effects are great and have an as rooted in reality feel to them as they can. (Why didn’t the Hulk leave potholes whenever he jumped?) The script is tight, and while the story does take a sharp turn if you just ride it out you’ll find it’s a novel approach to an old concept. Just don’t expect to come away with more answers than questions. There are some very funny moments and if I had to categorize, I would consider Hancock a superhero dramedy. Just don’t expect a laugh riot from beginning to end.

Overall I recommend Hancock to anyone looking to go beyond the summers popcorn fare to a more adult thinking mans superhero flick.


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New review:

Rating: *****

Anyone who's watched a movie adaptation of a comic book will be familiar with the scene of the crumpled city street in the wake of supernatural heroics: the spurting fire hydrants, dented skyscraper, crooked lampposts and overturned cars and buses that might or might not still contain crooked human bodies.

If you're like me, you'll watch these scenes in a state of inconvenient conflict. It's obviously terrific that the supervillain has been vanquished and the heroine/party of schoolchildren has been saved, but at what civic cost? And who foots the bill?

These are questions that many summer blockbusters might view as pedantic, but they're ones that Hancock goes some way towards addressing.

Eighty years after waking up in hospital with a bump on his head and a newfound invincibility with no idea how he acquired either, Hancock still thwarts crooks, but he spends most of his time passed out on public benches, soaked in bourbon.

The citizens of Los Angeles are displeased, especially since learning that his last bit of crime fighting caused $9 million worth of damage. But his fortunes turn around when he saves the life of Ray, a motivated public relations man who thinks he can help change Hancock's image in the public eye.

Ray's character - a PR on a moral mission - is a tricky one to believe in, particularly since his corporate 'dream' (some rubbish about free products and a heart logo) isn't sketched out. However, the fact he's played by Jason Bateman - who exudes good-heartedness in every role - helps. 'Ray is the Bono of PR,' says a colleague, by way of introduction. 'I think Bono is the Bono of PR,' replies Ray, and there's a very real sense that Bateman is continuing here where he left off in his role as Michael Bluth in the brilliant, fast-talking sitcom Arrested Development.

Ray has quite a task on his hands, as his wife (Charlize Theron) reminds him ceaselessly. Not only must he change Hancock's general attitude, he must get him to stop drinking and launching small, irritating children into the clouds when they mouth off at him.

The early moments are about as close as you get to seeing the dark side of Smith, but when Hancock is reunited with a fellow superhero, the movie, much like the recent Iron Man, loses its wit and becomes a CGI battle across the American skyline.

What follows is loud and spectacular, but it gets away from the more interesting original questions Hancock seemed to be asking, such as how lonely would life be if you were invincible. I'd have liked to have seen more of Bateman and Smith bouncing off one another, in the way Smith and Tommy Lee Jones were still allowed to do even during the most adrenaline-fuelled moments of Men In Black.

Putting them into a life or death cosmic battle and turning the LA sky an apocalyptic black adds a superficial sense of pace, but it wastes a chance for a good buddy com that deploys two stars at the peak of their powers. Hancock's world might have been a sad, soulless place at the beginning, but by the end it looks depressingly similar to every other one inhabited by his superhuman movie peers.

Verdict: An initially thoughtful look at a superhero that gradually loses its mind


Edited by viber_91
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Another one:


Will Smith plays anti-hero Hancock in director Peter Berg’s against-the-grain superhero movie that features a tricky plot revelation to put a fresh spin on its storyline. Alcoholic lay-about Hancock doesn’t remember much about his past as he goes about intervening on random crimes and accidents with a recklessness that has won him few supporters around Los Angeles. That is until Hancock saves public relations exec Ray Embrey (well played by Jason Bateman) from a speeding train. Ray returns the favor by insisting that Hancock enter prison and go into a rehab program before returning to public life as a more responsible citizen and law enforcer. "Hancock" is a smart post-modern superhero movie with a civic-minded heart. Charlize Theron spices up the fun as Ray’s doting wife Mary, who knows a bit more than her husband about what makes Hancock tick.

It takes a while for its allegory about the ravaging side effects of certain well intentioned but selfish people on the ecology and those around them, but its theme of responsible citizenship is unmistakable. Will Smith’s Hancock is a gifted individual who takes his powers for granted because he’s forgotten their source. Contrary to the superhero genre formula that front-loads the how and why of a character’s abilities, "Hancock" dives into the deep end of what this contrarian guy, who can stop a speeding locomotive with his body, is doing with his life. Sleeping on public benches with a hangover and cursing out young kids is not the way most of us want to see our heroes behave. Newcomer screenwriters Vy Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan ("Home Fries") have fun refolding the superhero format to contain messages and ideas that raise as many questions as they address.

"Hancock" is an action/adventure dramedy where its characters connect with the audience in an understated way. There’s an element of curiosity in its characters’ emotional motivation that keeps the action engaging. When the rehabilitated and newly suited Hancock takes over for embattled police officers at a bank heist standoff with hostages, it’s his intentionality as a concerned and accountable person that buoys the comic-laden set piece. In spite of its attention to grand spectacle, the movie doesn’t demand the same kind of audience expectation that movies like "Iron Man" and "The Hulk" do. What it does accomplish on a gratifying level is promising less and delivering more. It’s a rarely seen feat that crucially involves a commercial trailer that uniquely doesn’t give away the whole plot as most trailers do. Still, its double-secret weapon is Jason Bateman as a liberal hammer attempting to inspire corporations to give away products free of charge to the people that need them most. In return the company obtains the use of a cheesy heart-shaped logo alerting the public to that firm’s commitment to helping humanity. Even here though the movie raises a subtle question about how far Ray’s stroke of genius should go.

For a robust action story about three people from very different backgrounds attempting to make a positive influence on their world, "Hancock" is a step in the right direction. I don’t think the filmmakers have reinvented a genre so much as they have introduced a new set of rules. Is "Hancock" better than "The Hulk"? You bet.


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Columbia Pictures

Reviewed for CompuServe by Harvey Karten

Grade: C

Directed by: Peter Berg

Written By: Vy Vincent Ngo, Vince Gilligan

Cast: Will Smith, Jason Bateman, Charlize Theron, Eddie Marsan, Johnny Galecki, Thomas Lennon, Jae Head

Screened at: NYC, AMC Lincoln Square, 6/26/08

Opens: July 2, 2008

Moviegoers across our fair country have accepted, nay even embraced, the idea that summertime calls for light fare: books we can read at the beach, theater that leaves us feeling good, and big-studio movies that allow us to check our brains at the door. Prone as we critics are to seek out indies that help us to explain the human condition, there are exceptions that give us hope for big-studio fare. Pixar studio’s “Wall-E” is one major offering this summer that appears to have almost unanimous critical acceptance. But for the most part, we understand that the megaplex will offer the likes “Hellboy 2” and “The Incredible Hulk,” “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” and “The Love Guru.”

Thanks to Mike Myers’s vanity project in that last citation, “Hancock” cannot be called for worst movie of the summer. However, even by action-adventure standards, namely those movies targeted to the 16-25 year-olds, Peter Berg’s creation scripted by Vy Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan, is a dud. You’d think that with a budget of $150 million, money that could go quite a way toward hiring hundreds more Wall-E’s to clean up our waste, you could dream up a movie that does not assault us with CGI and stunt work involving a human being’s ability to take off like a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound, and who, more powerful than a locomotive, cannot make a soft landing in L.A. Every time the title character, a sometimes airborne superhero played by Will Smith, sets himself back down on terra firma, he uproots enough concrete to assure employees of companies with government road-repair contracts of steady jobs even during our current recessionary times.

Aside from a clever twist that I couldn’t see coming at just about midpoint, director Berg (“The Kingdom”) must have figured that the public would eat up a film with an original idea, and it is an intriguing one: that a superhero who has lived for centuries without aging—just as do Captain Marvel, Superman, Wonder Woman, maybe Spiderman—would be so sick and tired of his job that he would drink himself into a stupor, not bother shaving, and take naps not at a super-home but on a park bench. A fallen superhero, not bad. Premise notwithstanding, the hackneyed car crashes, train wrecks, building destructions, automatic artillery still dominate the picture while the human angle, which should have been exploited more and with greater subtlety, exists as a throwaway. The dreary explanation of Hancock’s origin sounds like pure gobbledygook.

As for the human angle: We first meet Hancock (Will Smith) sleeping off a hangover on a park bench, called an a-hole by a kid as he will be called many times throughout the story. Having aroused the public to dislike him because everywhere the superhero goes to stop crimes, he creates wreckage, Hancock is about to get a makeover by a public relations executive, Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), whose life he had saved albeit at the cost of wrecking cars and a locomotive in the process. Embrey teaches Hancock to say “Good job” to police, a start toward gaining the public’s affection, and to try to do his superwork without so much collateral damage. If Hancock is to change radically though, it will not be through another man’s counsel but through the chemistry he develops with Embrey’s gorgeous wife, Mary (Charlize Theron). Almost needless to say, there a kid in the picture, Aaron (Jae Head), who adores Hancock and is about the only guy who doesn’t call him an a-hole. On the other hand, Eddie Marsan plays Red, a villain who winds up in jail thanks to a Hancock intervention during a crime, and who is determined to locate the hero’s kryptonite and do him in.

“Hancock” tries to appeal to everyone, mixing genres so quickly that the movie cannot bear the weight of its central theme: that nobody’s perfect, that we all have vulnerabilities that should be worked on while at the same time we must accept what we cannot change. Explosions give way to sermonizing, romance steps aside for tragedy. The feelgood ending is even more absurd than any mystical notions introduced in the movie about the hero’s origins, while subtlety and nuance take a summer vacation.

Rated PG-13. 92 minutes. © 2008 by Harvey Karten Member: NY Film Critics Online


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From The Times

June 26, 2008


Hancock, starring Will Smith, makes a promising start but is brought down by the weight of its own ambitions

Kevin Maher

Hancock, for the first 40 minutes at least, is the summer blockbuster we deserve. An ironic anti-comic-book movie, it casts Will Smith as a degenerate alcoholic superhero in need of a publicity makeover.

Initially, bravura set-pieces are deftly balanced by an intriguing sense of character, both from Smith’s downbeat protagonist and from Charlize Theron as a publicist’s wife who has illicit desires for Hancock.

Sadly, the bar is set too high and the movie implodes under the weight of its own ambitions, denying Smith and Theron any chance at inter-racial happiness and becoming instead the very movie it decried. Cue the downtown destruction, the criminal mastermind (Eddie Marsan) and the corny comic-book resurrection finale.

12A, 92 minutes


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by Sara Schieron

posted June 26, 2008 11:29 AM

Hancock proves to be a little too coarse and over-the-top for its own good


Brash, excessive and supremely inelegant, Hancock can be fun … if you like that sort of thing. The over-the-top action sequences easily rival the film’s most immediate competition (Wanted), but add a surprising edge—finally we have a black, cinematic superhero and he’s operating in a universe that’s very modern. Though thinly realized, the title character is given some minor emotional development through the use of music, but even played by the reliably good Will Smith, Hancock is not worthy of the heft of its title. Still, box office promises to be huge as the action genre is finally making a stride in directions that could sway more towards niche without losing its wide appeal.

Outside of X-Men's Storm and the ever-broadening cast of TV’s Heroes, minority superheroes haven’t enjoyed tons of discovery. Modern comics are riddled with series that explore the plight of “real world” characters afflicted with superpowers and their attendant consequences (the Hulk can’t socialize or experience intimacy, Daredevil pops pills to subdue the pain of battle wounds), but those real-world characters are frequently cultural majorities, emotionally struggling under soul-sucking bourgeois malaise or numbing mediocrity (see Spider-Man, Wanted). In a unique but soap-opera-inspired turn, what sets Hancock apart from his contemporaries is his amnesia. As a result of his memory loss, he carries himself with a recklessness commonplace among bullies. A good portion of the first act is dedicated to Hancock’s dereliction of duty, his absolute irresponsibility with his powers, which, while it helps out the police, incurs millions of dollars in damages. Still, he’s effective. A comic foil in this period of wanton destruction is found in an 8-year-old bully Michel, who’s French, blonde, a touch portly and picking on the son of Hancock’s PR man Ray (beautifully played by Jason Bateman). Michel’s reckless behavior is easily subdued by Hancock, and then promptly explained by Mary (Charlize Theron): He’s acting out because his parents are divorcing. There’s a similar emotional displacement at hand with Hancock’s recklessness, but in this case, we’ve no one to offer up any trite psychology.

The film’s biggest drawbacks are visual. The premise is pretty high concept and the effects are largely impressive, but the manner in which director Peter Berg invokes energy and tension are all easy and speak to the “klass” of low end TV drama. Jittering handheld camerawork is not only misplaced, it’s overused in places where it’s hardly required at all. On a more foundational note, the script by Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan deliberately leaves certain major developments needlessly untended. The identity or origin of Hancock the “man” is a constantly repeated mystery, and instead of using the mystery for cliffhanger-style suspense, it’s bandied about, and once we’re done not caring about it for 90 minutes, the matter’s left unresolved. I’m sure such a mistake could be salvaged or exploited in the service of franchising down the road, but in the face of this and so many other missed opportunities, it’s simply hard to care.

The audience’s lethargy is matched by the film’s laziness. Intensity and purpose are communicated in the film via completely indolent means. When Hancock goes to jail, we’re exposed to the threat of his neighboring convicts with the throwback rap “Colors,” thus eschewing any dramatic onus on the prisoners and tastelessly cashing in on the minority angle. When Mary (Charlize Theron) comes to see Hancock for “business,” she’s changed from her regular uniform of gauzy nudes to black. Berg didn’t think it overt enough to let the actress’ posture connote import, no; he had the makeup artist spackle her with black eyeliner. Don’t get me wrong; the makeup looks great, but how absurd! For the first two acts, she’s miss granola LA, but when she takes on important tasks she goes dark?

I’m not so sure Berg is losing faith that his audience can follow along—the film is intended for a broad base and did get a surprising PG-13—but in the face of so many comic book films entering theatres, it seems a poor choice to differentiate yours by way of tacky TV-level antics.

2 out of 5 stars

Distributor: Sony

Cast: Will Smith, Jason Bateman, Charlize Theron and Jae Head

Director: Peter Berg

Screenwriters: Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan

Producers: Akiva Goldsman, James Lasseter, Michael Mann and Will Smith

Genre: Action

Rating: PG-13 for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language

Running time: 92 min.

Release date: July 2


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Hancock - the most honest super hero movie I've ever seen

Hancock is Los Angeles’s drunk, low-flying sometimes hero. With all the exciting aspects of an action movie, sparkling comedy and a heartfelt plot, Hancock is the most honest super hero movie I’ve ever seen.

"Why is it honest"

John Hancock (Will Smith) flies around Los Angeles, protecting innocent people from criminals and disaster, when he could be bothered or wasn’t too drunk. Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), public relations specialist with a big heart, is one of the people Hancock has rescued from tragedy. It was a lucky connection for each, because Hancock had earned a reputation for being a drunk bastard, whose reckless rescues often seem worse than the danger and Ray can’t get his idea to save the world off the ground. Mary Embrey (Charlize Theron), Ray’s wife, hates, and Aaron Embrey (Jae Head), Ray’s son, adores Hancock. Ray, Mary, Aaron and Hancock struggle to repair Hancock’s reputation by making him a hero worth admiring.

It is no simple feat to make a character multi-dimensional, but to make him supernatural and believable is no less than applause worthy. Writers Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan should be credited for creating a character, Hancock, rich in complex emotions, veiled under an alcoholic veneer, which shields him from his sheer loneliness and protects him from the hate spewed on him by the public. In the beginning of movie, it is hard to like Hancock, even when he is mid-heroic act. As the movie progresses, so does Hancock. He grows, he learns and he tries. Ngo and Gilligan’s accomplishments don’t end with Hancock himself.

Hancock the character was not the only great part of Hancock. The comedy leaves the audience in high spirits, so the moments of sincere tenderness and disturbing scenes land especially hard in the laps of those watching.

I won’t be ruining it for you to tell you there is a surprise so huge in Hancock, it couldn’t fit in a fridge. The entire audience gasped and sat in stunned amazement as the plot unfolded in a way none of us saw coming. Calling it a jaw dropper would not be an exaggeration.

Will Smith is sinfully sinful as Hancock. He gives such a raw dirtiness to Hancock, but does not make him unlovable. Smith’s comedic timing was flawless. His attention to the emotional details at the end of the movie make Hancock worth the audience’s forgiveness.

Charlize Theron goes toe to toe with Smith in a thespian tug of war that ends in a tie. Her performance brought tears to my eyes and made my heart break. Theron should be locked up for how often she steals the scene in Hancock!

Jason Bateman is no slacker either. His wide-eyed, bushy-tailed enthusiasm portrayal of Ray cheers up the audience when it’s his turn on screen. Look to Bateman to make you laugh more than any other actor.

Hancock has sensational visual effects. There is no shortage of explosions, destroyed streets, and buildings falling down. In the opening scenes there is even a scene inspired by the Flintstones but done with such great visuals, there is nothing stone aged about it. I had completely suspended my disbelief, lost myself in the story and became entranced in the visuals.

Heck, even the music is good. There is a song in Hancock with all of the brass a super hero deserves but is fresh and original.

When the music, acting, writing, and visuals all come together to become one great movie, not separate things from each other, the director should take all the credit. Peter Berg’s direction in Hancock is deserving of merit and earns my acclaim.

My only complaint is the shallow villain. While his part is small and simple, it was not given the same care the other characters were and there was a missed opportunity to create another layer of depth.

I have had serious problems with typical tight wearing super heroes and their tactics. The tax payers have to clean up after them, they are never accountable to anyone once they kill and the topic of loneliness is often ignored. Hancock addresses all those points and does it in a way that leaves the audience nearly in tears, high from laughter and wanting to know more.

Hancock is heartfelt, funny, abrasive, and fantastic with eye candy that captures the audience and doesn’t let go. Don’t miss Hancock. It’s time well spent.


Hancock subverts the superhero genre

Rating: *****

Will Smith saves the world – again, the new twist this time being his outrageously un-PC hero.

Hancock (a stubbly, grouchy but never less than utterly loveable Smith) is an alcoholic bum of a caped crusader who crashes into the sides of buildings, drunkenly exposes himself to children and causes so many millions of dollars of damage his rescued victims generally wish he hadn't bothered.

'I can smell the liquor on your breath,' hisses one. 'Well, that's cos I've been drinking, bitch,' Hancock raps back.

It's a real joy to find such naughty laughs consistently subverting what looked like just another squeaky clean, one-dimensional family-friendly superhero movie.

But no sooner has the drama dipped a toe into potentially deeper, certainly darker, adult waters, it pulls frustratingly back from the brink.

Hancock's glossy road to redemption is never truly in doubt as soon as nice-guy spin doctor Jason Bateman offers help in the form of a much needed PR makeover, introducing Hancock to suburban values via his caring wife (Charlize Theron) and adorable little blonde son.

Alcoholism is deployed merely for (very) comic effect as the story stumbles awkwardly. As it lurches between 'alternative' comedy, serious-issues drama and formulaic blockbuster schmaltz, it feels like the script itself has had a pint too many. That said, it's enormous fun, with chuckles aplenty.

And if the CGI is iffily cartoonish, it proves rather appropriate. A brilliantly crazy, if amusingly botched twist two-thirds in proves so totally off-kilter bonkers, it finally sends the movie plummeting off the cliff like a flailing Wile E Coyote.


Tonight, He Comes…Hancock

Rating: **********

Hancock has the kind of premise that you wonder why it took so long for someone to put it on the big screen. With the plethora of comic book movies coming to cinemas this decade, it was only a matter of time before we were given a tale of a washed up superhero, drunk and lonely, being berated for his destruction rather than praised for his bravery. Alan Moore delved into this realm with his graphic novel Watchmen, (for which it seems Zach Snyder has not massacred turning it into a film itself), and Pixar's The Incredibles touched a bit on the subject with the disbanding of heroes by the government, however, here is something different. This guy doesn't hide his identity or pretend he is something he's not. No, he lets it all out on the line and most of it is unflattering and just plain rude. Jaded from the lack of respect he receives, John Hancock finds that he'd rather wallow away in solitude than try and make people like him. Sure he will still go out and help where he can, while making 9 billion dollars worth of damage, but when he's done, it's back to the bar and the bottle, his only friends in the world.

All that changes with a chance meeting of a down-on-his-luck public relations man. Caught a second from death as a train barrels down on his car, Hancock swoops in and saves his life, while harming many others in the process. Seeing an opportunity to get back into the big leagues, Ray Embrey decides to make his hero his new client. By having this freak of nature turn himself into authorities for the warrant out for his arrest due to the multiple fines and disturbing the peace charges, Ray thinks that a little time away from the city will show the people how much they need him. While incarcerated, crime goes up 30% in just five days, people start to worry as the criminals begin to feel invincible, and, to top it all off, Hancock gets a little quiet time to himself so that he can rework his image. Dealing with anger issues and alcoholism on the inside, Ray also begins to work on his personality, turning him into a civil person, or at least as close as he can get, (when you see Hancock's smile for the camera, you'll understand what I mean). Once the city comes a calling, his rebirth will allow him to be ready to take control as someone the public can trust, rather than hate.

Ripe for comedy, the fact that Ray is played by the immensely talented Jason Bateman and Hancock by Will Smith, the film delivers on the funny. I always assume when Bateman gets on a roll that a lot is improvised, and once again I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case here. The two build a fantastic rapport and the sarcastic wit flies back and forth. What is refreshing amidst this comic bent we expect is how good Smith is as the jerk. This guy has made a name for himself as the blockbuster hero, modest and heroic to a fault, never showing a selfish bone in his body. Here, however, he is egotistical, self-absorbed, and downright mean. It's like how I felt watching Russell Crowe chew the scenery in 3:10 to Yuma, watching a great actor play against type is like discovering them all over again. Smith is one of the best out there and he doesn't disappoint.

As a whole, it really is just about these two guys, becoming business partners and friends as they ride the waves to success. I don't want to leave the rest of the cast behind, though, and must make mention of Charlize Theron. After reading an early synopsis, when the film was still titled Tonight, He Comes, I had her character pegged into a certain place. I was completely wrong and surprised to see where her role goes as she plays a very crucial part to the story. I will admit to never really getting all the hype around her, (no I have not seen Monster yet, it'll happen eventually), but she is very solid here as usual, I don't dislike her, I just don't see the unending praise. Also, like every Peter Berg film of late, this thing is chock full of cameos, (you'll even see the director himself, hearkening back to his "Chicago Hope" days in a split second scene). I mean, when you get director pal Michael Mann and writer Akiva Goldsman to poke fun at themselves in a board meeting, you know this guy enjoys what he does and invites his friends along for the ride.

Despite all that works for it, the film doesn't quite do its premise service. If the writers would have stuck to the comedy element and continued on that path, I think the story would have benefited. Instead, Hancock attempts to be bigger then it is. Without any real villain to root against, (the only bad guy is actually Hancock himself as he tries to turn his life around), there isn't really anything to create a worthwhile climax with weight. Instead we are shown a chance coincidence and how the stakes of that event hold the lives of two of our leads in the balance. The situation wants to be dramatic—hence the slow-mo visuals—but ultimately becomes a bit out of place if not obvious. It all works OK, though, mostly because the film itself is very slight and devoid of true plot. The evolution of Hancock is a rapid one and at barely an hour and a half, there's not much room for more depth. The laughs are big, however, and the film entertaining, so as a popcorn summer tent-pole, Smith will most definitely deliver some big numbers, even though he's going against that cute little Pixar robot.


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Rating: 4.5 / 5

Superheroes have been jumping out at us from the newsprint page for so long now that it's easy to forget there's no rule stipulating they have to be born in the comics. But it's a nice surprise when some new and mighty force for justice (and entertainment) can come swooping out of the silver screen to capture our imaginations.

"Unbreakable" is a great example, though much more understated than the most recent entry into that all-new hero territory: "Hancock."

Now, I'm a giant comic book geek -- both in height and scope -- so I ought to warn those of you unfamiliar with my particular peculiarities that I tend to fall in step behind anyone who can fly, bend steel with their bare hands or otherwise pull off wearing a cape...

So yeah, I loved "Hancock." It was exactly what it needed to be... and then some.

For an admittedly obsessive nerd such as myself, it's refreshing to step into a superhero flick with no idea where it will take you.

John Hancock (Will Smith) is an alcoholic, grubby misanthrope who also happens to be nigh invulnerable, ridiculously strong and able to fly. While he does have heroic impulses, his crass and unconcerned methods have the public seeing him as nothing more than a massive pain in the ass. Enter: Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman). Ray is a public relations agent who decides to shape Hancock into a respectable hero after Hancock saves him from becoming railroad kill. Ray's wife, Mary (Charlize Theron) is none to keen on this and harbors a pronounced dislike for the, er... hero.

There's action, and even a comic-style villain after a while, but the meat of the movie is in Hancock's interactions with the Embrey family.

What can we say about Will Smith at this point, really? The guy knows how to be a hero, whether it's the cocky new guy from "Men In Black," the isolated survivor struggling for sanity in "I Am Legend" or the pissed and emotionally crippled superman of "Hancock." Solid all-around.

Jason Bateman, however, may not be known to many of you. For the uninformed, I will tell you this: the man is goddamn hilarious. He starred in "Arrested Development," which is one of the funniest shows ever canned by a network, and I'm thrilled to see his name up on the marquee of a summer blockbuster alongside someone as huge as Will Smith.

And speaking of which, the humor is excellent. Rather than forcibly inserting gags into the story, the humor comes from the characters themselves (gasp!). Oh, genuine fun in a movie theater, how I've missed you. Wait... didn't I see you at "Iron Man"? And "Indiana Jones"? And --

Nevermind that. It's been a good summer for moviegoers who let themselves have fun.

There are other 'props' and 'kudos' and whatnot that I'd like to hand out, but it would involve spoiling at least some of the plot, and I'd rather it not come to that. It'll have to suffice to say that there's plenty of badassitude to go around. And "Hancock" definitely wins the award for most offbeat uses of superpowers.

See "Hancock" if... y'know what, individual taste be damn'd: just see "Hancock"!


Where does an 800-lb. gorilla sleep? Anywhere he wants.

That old joke also applies to L. A. resident John Hancock (Will Smith), a self-appointed super-hero who possesses superhuman strength, invulnerability, and the power of flight. He’s also a surly drunk with no consideration for property damage or the feelings of other people. To the city of Los Angeles, he’s more of a hazard than anything else, and no one seems to be able to resist telling him that he’s an asshole.

Meanwhile, Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) is a PR specialist who is trying to do his part to save the world by convincing corporations to improve their public image through charitable works. When Hancock saves Embrey’s life – and receives jeers from the crowd of bystanders, rather than praise – Embrey decides to return the favor. By helping Hancock gain acceptance as a real hero to the city, Embrey hopes to help the man who can most help the rest of us.

This movie has a terrific premise, a good script, and exactly the right actors. Unfortunately, director Peter Berg seems to have been the wrong choice for this project, and it’s his touch on the film that keeps it from being a truly excellent summer movie. The hand-held, documentary-style camerawork that served Berg well when he directed The Kingdom strikes the wrong tone and completely fails to support the film’s comedy. The movie’s funny, but in the hands of a different director the exact same scenes could have been hilarious.

Another let-down is that there are several aspects of character and story development in the first half of the film that are hardly paid off at all. For example, when Hancock finally gets the call from the Chief of Police, when he’s finally validated as a superhero who is needed and wanted, we don’t get to see the conversation at all – the audience is denied getting to see the hero in his moment of triumph. The film also ignores opportunities to show the development of Hancock’s character. Instead of giving us a scene that reveals something about this heard-hearted character being broken down and rebuilt as a responsible hero, we’re given scenes of him silently staring at walls, as if that’s supposed to communicate his internal processes.

I know, I know – it sounds like I’ve forgotten that Hancock is just supposed to be a 4th of July weekend flick. A fun ride that’s shallow but enjoyable, seen then forgotten, like Armageddon, War of the Worlds, or Wild, Wild West. But that’s just it. One of the real surprises of Hancock is that there’s much more to this film than the trailers and previews have lead you to believe. This film has been marketed as a comedic take on superheroes – perhaps in the same vein as My Super Ex-Girlfriend – but there’s a real mystery behind who Hancock is. Ultimately, this film builds up a potential mythology as strong as what’s found in traditional comic books (you know, the ones getting made into blockbuster movies every year).

It’s truly a shame that Hancock clocks in at only an hour and a half long. If it had been given a full two hours to fill out the first half of the story, it could have been really terrific – even with the handicap of Berg’s directorial style. As it is, Hancock may not have lived up to its potential, but is still a good, enjoyable movie. If you go see it over the holiday weekend just looking for a fun diversion, you’ll probably end up getting even more than you expected.


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Rating: **********

First of all, I must comment on Will Smith’s performance. The man has proven he is the most bankable movie star in Hollywood over the years, but his performance in Hancock also verifies that he has a level of charisma not even Hollywood’s biggest heavyweights combined could ever achieve. Viewers will be pleased to hear funny one-liners that are generally expected from a Will Smith film. (my favorite line is Hancock’s retort to an overweight man who tells him he should be sued.) Will Smith also mixes the perfect amount of comedy and drama that had the audience in tears from both elements.

It should also be noted that Jason Bateman was also a welcome presence on this project. Although, cast as the straight character, Bateman still is able to be the lovable scene-stealer viewers have grown to be fond of over the years. Although, Charlize Theron was slightly under-used in this film, there was no denying that she had great chemistry with Smith. A lot of subtext was used with her character and she proved that even though her role was significantly small for an Oscar winning actress…it definitely wasn’t a thankless one.

I also must really commend writer Vince Gilligan and director Peter Berg for providing viewers with a dose of ingenuity that even the most anticipated movies of this year could not even muster. Hancock strays far away the typical superhero movie, yet it is able to stay true to certain rules. For instance, Hancockdoes have a form of Kryptonite that weakens him and he does have a back story full of pathos. (Like most superheroes do.)

Peter Berg must also be inspired by acclaimed director Michael Mann, (who also serves as one the film’s producers) because the film had a very somber and serious look to it. (It reminded a lot of Miami Vice and Collateral) In addition to the film’s slick veneer, the special effects used in the movie were outstanding to say at the very least. In fact, I would go as far to say that they were the best effects I have seen in a movie all year. When Hancock crashes lands on the sidewalk, stops trains with his body, even when he throws a beached whale back in the ocean, I couldn’t help but think how real everything looked. They were no poorly done CGI gophers, green superheroes, or cartoon-looking vampires. It was a pleasant surprise to see special effects that had some weight to them for a change.

On the downside, the movie throws the audience an unlikely twist involving one of the characters halfway through the movie. This turn of events drastically changes the mood of the movie and it clashes with the upbeat energetic and creative first half of the film. Although, I don’t want to spoil the twist, all I can is that if the filmmakers have opted to make the character in question a villain instead of what they became in the film, I think that would have made the film far more intriguing and it would have closed up many of the plot holes riddled through out the film.

There were also definite pacing issues with the movie. Some parts moved slower than they should have and some parts moved far too fast. In fact, there is a henchman in the movie that comes back into the picture and the audience is supposed to buy he is the film’s main villain at the film’s denouement. (A little hard to believe if you ask me.)

However, the film’s biggest error in judgment is that it is marketed for the wrong audience. Anyone who is expecting a genuine superhero film is in for a huge disappointment. Hancock is a hybrid of many different genres and it not the light action comedy fans will be expecting. In fact, I truly believe this movie should have been rated R. Sure, the film gets away with a lot for a PG-13 film, ( I had no idea you could say the word, as*hole that many times!) yet it still felt like a watered down version of the movie it should have been. Smith’s character should have been far more vile at the beginning of the film before he transforms into the ultimate superhero. I pictured him as a dirty old man hitting on under-aged groupies, instead of the lovable as*hole (the ultimate oxymoron) the film made him out to be.

Overall, Hancock was a refreshing change from the cookie-cutter superhero films we have been getting lately. It is not made for everyone, (as I could tell from the snooty critics were not happy) but it will please viewers who are looking for something different than the mediocre comic book films that have been constantly thrown at us. Although it’s far from perfect, it is still a solid and a fairly entertaining effort from director Peter Berg. In the words of John Hancock, “Good job.”


- I have never been this intressted in a movie, never! The reviews are jumping from 2/10 to 4.5/5 and everyting in between. I've never seen so extreme reviews for a movie, some say it's one of the worst movies of the year, and some say it's great. It seems like it will eather suck hard, or be really great. I hope I'm one of those who think it's great, but right now, I have no idea what to think of this movie. But I can't wait to see it!

Edited by viber_91
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