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Hancock: master thread


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'Sé lo que hicisteis' interviews Will Smith

This is an interview from the Spanish show 'SLQH'. I'm sure Sandy knows these guys:


Of course I know them!!!

I didn't know the interviewed Will! Thanks a lot Ale.

"¿¿como se dices 'cookie'??"hahaha

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

When Hollywood tries to make their own superhero movies, they tend to fail. Whether it’s something silly like Meteor Man or Unbreakable, comic hero style movies that don’t have a comic to fall back on tend to underperform.

So when Sony Pictures decides to bring out Hancock in what has critically and domestically been *the* greatest summer for superhero films, you’ve gotta’ wonder what they’re thinking.

There are no long-time readers of Hancock like their are for Hulk, Iron Man, Batman or even Hellboy. So no naturally built-in audience, save the one that loves to go see Will Smith movies. Frankly, I’m on that list. I love Will Smith. Six Degrees of Seperation showed us all that he had serious acting chops, I’ve been a supporter. So I can forgive things like Wild Wild West or Men in Black II.

If Hancock is to succeed in the best superhero movie summer ever, it damn well better deliver something unforseen. The good news is…it does. Hancock, above all other things, is interesting.

What is Hancock About?

The first time we see Hancock in the film, he’s drunk off his ass. Sleeping on a park-bench, empty bottle of whisky on the hard concrete, he’s roused by a young boy. What’s the young boy want? He wants Hancock to get off his ass and go be a superhero.

To his credit, Hancock does just that.

In what is probably the toughest sell in this entire film, audiences are asked to not only see Will Smith as a jerk, but also to like him along the way. Does he save people? Sure. Does he have any regard whatsoever for property or moral responsibilities? Absolutely not.

In one day alone, Hancock is responsible for causing of $9 million in damage to downtown LA. So you can imagine how the people feel about him. For Hancock, the feeling is mutual. He can save the people, but he doesn’t have to like them. At some point, you think, “Well, they should just be glad he’s chosen to be a hero rather than a criminal!” but that’s a thought that would never cross Hancock’s mind. Because deep down, no matter what, he likes saving people. It’s his duty.

He’s just not very good at human interaction. Enter Jason Bateman. Bateman’s job is to give us an in to Hancock, to show us what is truly great about the character, and to assist on his struggles to change the city’s perception of him.

Most of this you should have gotten from the trailer. But what you don’t necessarily get is how amazing Will Smith is when it comes to playing the disconnected, unsatisfied and tormented Hancock.

Does Hancock work?

Smith’s big eyes, usually smiling or pleading in most roles, turn cold and harsh in this film. He stops a train and proceeds to conduct the rabble-rousing by local citizens as if it were some orchestrated movement he’s heard a million times before. He dares people to push his buttons, and when they do, he pounces. Hard, quick, and without a single bit of reservation.

And that’s when you realize that casting Will Smith was the best thing that could have happened for this film.

When you’ve got a character, who for all intents and purposes, is supposed to be completely unlikable, how can audiences identify with him? Simple - you cast Will Smith, and there’s a natural charm that grabs the audience. He’s got the hero gravity, that special draw toward him where even throwing a young boy far up into the stratosphere (to catch him a few minutes later) will make you laugh.

Throughout this entire film, my smile was ear to ear. I was having a blast, first with the Hancock who was a jerk, then with the Hancock who’s trying to be the hero everyone else wants him to be. And then especially through the subtext and plot reveals that come along, that you never, ever expect or see coming. Not in a million years.

If you think you can figure out this movie, you can’t. You won’t. You can get hints, you can maybe pick up on this here or that there, but when the final revelations are given to audiences, you’ll be as surprised as anyone else.

For that, I’ve gotta’ thank writers Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan, who have created an entire mythos, backstory, and history for this character that you’ll never figure out before hand, and do a great job of revealing it without too much useless exposition. Much of it comes through in subtext or in action, not from soliloquy’s standing atop a huge building as some mindless villain promises Hancock that he’ll “rue the day” or some such crap.

Hancock brings a new and interesting spin to superhero films. While not 100% original by any means, to see this level of sophistication and depth in a superhero backstory that doesn’t have 40+ years of comic history and writers to draw from is exciting.

What’s Wrong with Hancock?

The music, time and again, is completely off the mark.

Our first introduction to Jason Bateman’s character had my eyebrows cocked as I tried to decipher the purpose. From that point on, the music is entirely hit and miss. When Hancock’s being a badass superhero? It’s on. When the Sanford and Son theme song suddenly pops up? It doesn’t. All in all, the score is just too present, too heavy handed and too out of sync with what we’re actually feeling, versus what the composer is trying to make us feel.

Hancock feels edited. Extremely. While there’s nothing specifically I can point out to say, “This would be better if it were longer…” or “I wish I had more of that,” I can say that during the film I felt we were sometimes cutting too soon or things were being left out. Most of it has to do with pacing. A montage of Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron’s character’s smiling and snuggling in bed comes out of nowhere, but does fit who those characters are. It just needed some ramp up - and you can say that a lot of times about Hancock.

It never drags. Never gets slow. Never gets boring, but sometimes, you wish it would take a breath and let you see these character’s you’re liking so much.

Sometimes, though, Director Peter Berg struggles with tone. Switching from this story to that story, the attitude of the entire film can switch a little too far from what we’ve experienced before, and it can be jarring. Part of this could be a music thing, as the music’s often trying to cram an emotion you don’t want down your throat, but the tone problems have to be addressed. They are distracting here and there.

Best things about Hancock?

One of my favorite things about this film is that it isn’t underwritten. Never, at any time, do I feel the writer’s didn’t take into account a characters true feelings, motivations or life-story.

Everything is a tapestry in this film and there’s so much more beneath the surface of the people we see on screen. Which leads to some of the problems with the editing, where you know there’s more going on, but you just aren’t given that glimpse into it.

Charlize Theron is fantastic. From the first moment she’s on the screen, you get something from her and you wonder what the payoff’s going to be. Then, when it finally happens, it’s such a surprise and different from what you’d built in your head, you’ll be reflecting back on the not-so-subtle clues all throughout the film.

Bateman is wonderful, and it’s nice to see him play this role. If there’s one good thing about Arrested Development, it’s that it brought Jason Bateman back into the consciousness of filmmakers, so we can see his interesting interpretations on characters and share in the joy he brings to the role. There’s an innate goodness to his character that comes through in everything he does, and Bateman nails it.

Will Smith just brings it. In scene after scene, he does what you want him to do, so much so that above all actors in the film, he transcends being Will Smith and instead becomes Hancock.

Imagine how much damn talent it takes to do that? To be one of the biggest stars in the world, and to still be so good that you can get audiences to believe you when you’re playing a whisky-slurping ragamuffin superhero? Kudos to Smith.

Finally, the directing. Peter Berg’s an interesting guy, and he’s made a really interesting movie. Action scenes are handled perfectly. The character interactions work well, and the world is alive. Not as deep or as big as say the New York of Spider-Man, but when it comes to the circles surrounding our main characters, they’re fleshed out and we can imagine them really existing.

Berg takes the characters where they need to go, and brings from them the performances needed to get so much deep, powerful subtext off the paper and into the hearts of audiences. I can’t applaud him enough for that.

Oh, and the CG is actually really good. Occassionally it looks bad, but most of the time, I didn’t even think about it - it was just as real as anything else in the movie, which is exactly what you want.

Closing Thoughts…

Hancock isn’t a perfect film by any means. It tries to find its footing, stumbles a bit, and eventually stands on top of that building, hands in a fist, placed firmly on its hips, chest puffed out and ready to take on the world.

Hancock makes me want more. A sequel? Maybe, I’m not sure. But there are probably a few prequels in this badboy that could really rock us all and be even more interesting than this film itself. All in all, I can’t figure out any reason for you to not go see Hancock, unless you just hate having fun at the movie theatre.


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On Movies: Unheroic superhero appealed to director

By Steven Rea

Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic

'I loved the idea of an alcoholic, nihilistic, subversive superhero, fighting crime drunk," says Peter Berg about Hancock - a screenplay that's been kicking around Hollywood for a dozen years or so, and that had, at various points, Michael Mann and Tony Scott among the folks attached to direct.

But Berg, the actor (The Last Seduction, TV's Chicago Hope) turned director, landed the gig. He heard about the project, and about Will Smith's interest in the role, when Berg was midway through shooting The Kingdom, the Jamie Foxx/Jennifer Garner Middle East action pic.

"Michael Mann was a producer on The Kingdom," explained Berg, on the phone from Santa Monica earlier this week. "I had wanted to do a superhero film for a while, and had tried to work with Will Smith, and then Michael said, 'We got this thing we're doing, and Will wants to talk to you about it.'

"Of course, I was there."

Although Hancock - with Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman in key roles - is dark, Berg says that the original screenplay, written by Vincent Ngo, was way more so. "You know the Nicolas Cage character in Leaving Las Vegas?" he says, referring to the booze-soaked, suicidal scribe that won Cage an Oscar. "Well, Vincent's screenplay took a left turn from Leaving Las Vegas. . . . We all loved the idea of that character, but weren't ever interested in making a film that tough."

Still, one of Berg's early cuts of Hancock - which opens Wednesday and is expected to do huge business over the Fourth of July weekend - featured Smith's character, a guy who can fly, who has super strength, and whose body is impervious to harm, trying to kill himself. If you're invincible, suicide becomes a serious challenge.

"It's a great sequence, but it's just very dark," Berg says. "And we felt like it would be hard to get audiences laughing after that opening. . . . The film has always been tonally challenging. It took a while for the tone to sort of shake itself out."

It also took Berg and company a while to get the MPAA's ratings board to give Hancock a PG-13 - the rating that Sony Pictures expected for its big summer release. The opening scene now shows Smith's hungover superhero waking up on a Los Angeles street. He's ringed by bottles of cheap whiskey, there's a high-speed freeway shoot-out in progress, and a 10-year-old is trying to get Hancock to get his act together and save the day. Profanity is exchanged.

Hancock got stuck with the more restrictive R rating on its first two passes with the notoriously tricky ratings board.

"I've never worked on a film that didn't have a ratings issue," says Berg, who made his directing debut with 1998's Very Bad Things, a twisted piece about a Vegas bachelor party gone seriously awry. He has also directed The Rundown, with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and Friday Night Lights.

"There's always a dance with the ratings commission," he says. "They actually didn't have a problem with [a prison scene] because they deemed it physically impossible. They are more concerned with language. You get one f-word in a PG-13 film. And sex is utterly taboo in a PG-13 film. And then they can hit you on something they call 'general intensity'. . . . It's a catchall phrase. We had a scene at the end that was just too intense for them."

Berg, who is 44 and hails originally from New York, says that the idea of overseeing a $150 million effects-driven movie with "the biggest movie star in the world" took some getting used to. It's the first film for the director where CGI and visual effects are such key components. Hancock lifts cars, stops trains simply by standing in front of them, and swoops and soars across the sky.

"It's definitely like having to deal with the revenge of the nerds on an epic scale," Berg jokes about working with the visual effects teams. "These guys are really smart and very technical. It's like anything else when you're directing a film - whether it's talking to a cameraman or an art department person or an actor - there's a phase where you're learning how to communicate in their language. It's just a little bit trickier with the effects.

"But I was able to learn how to do that, and we had really good guys at Sony Imageworks who can push all the technical complexities and the nomenclature aside and just talk about the emotion of a scene. Once I was able to do that, it wasn't as daunting."

Berg confirms that if Hancock does the kind of business being forecast for it, there could well be a Hancock 2. He says that he'll certainly consider a reprise, and he guesses Smith will, too.

"He's eternally optimistic," Berg says of his star, who also served as one of Hancock's producers. "He just has the greatest mental positive attitude of anyone I've ever met, and he's tireless.

"He will work 23-hour days back to back to back, and I don't think he's sleeping in the one hour off. He's completely energized by what he does, and, you know, when you love what you do that fully, the passion comes out, and it comes out as charisma."


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Hey, i dont really post here much but im always reading what you guys have to say (Sad i know!). I just saw Hancock and thought it was great. It seems however that the reshooting they did wasnt for the actual film but for an extra bit during the credits. Just thought this was interesting after all the worries of them reshooting it!

Edited by Stoichennium
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