Thursday, June 26, 2008

What Do You Do With A Drunken Hero?

Before I start my review I’d like to make a statement. While I am truly sorry you could not find a babysitter for the evening, there is no, I repeat NO! excuse for bringing a newborn to a movie. If your kid is small enough to fit in a large handbag or backpack they probably should not be in a disease infested dark room with flashing lights and 110 decibels of sound. Stay at home! That’s what a good conscientious neighbor would do. I have no children. What makes you think I want to hear your colicy spawn wail for 45 minutes? If I wanted that, I have Yoko Ono CDs to listen to. Don’t you think it’s about time the megaplexes realize that babies shouldn’t be allowed into the theaters? To my knowledge, I have never been to a film where there is a baby present that has not started crying 30 – 40 minutes in. Maybe these mothers like the attention they get when they finally leave their seat and the applause starts. All I have to say to the inconsiderate sow that thought bringing a newborn into the screening of Hancock at the Regal 20 in Virginia Center Commons on 6/25 and forcing us to listen to it cry for a good 45 minutes is this.

Just because your parenting skills no longer allow you to hear the cries of your infant, doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t. You are a narcissistic, inconsiderate sorry excuse of a person. I hope you enjoyed your 15 minutes of negative fame, and while I wish no ill on your child, after all the lights and the sound probably had the kid feeling like a detainee in Abu Gharib, I hope your child gives you no end of trouble, particularly in its teen years.

Now on to the review.

As always I will avoid spoilers.

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.

Just do us a favor? Leave the baby with a sitter.

Baby photos by Jill Greenberg


Tere @ My Precious Studio said...

as soon as the dad arrived in line with the teenie baby we knew there'd be trouble. granted, she was wickedly cute, but come on people. I don't get it.
I totally enjoyed Hancock and liked the original concept. I LOVE Jason Bateman and Will Smith. I'm never dissapointed by them. Charlize is great and gorgeous as ever. fun movie.

timelord said...

This makes me interested in HANCOCK. There isn't much advance press about this one.
It seems that the writers are taking some cues from the Mark Millar/Brian Bendis school of superhero writing ( excempting the neutered version of WANTED that should be hitting theaters full of babies as you read this, come on the world of really fucked up supervillians was the best part of that story) and giving us a really unique and compelling story instead of the hollywood pap.
Is corporate Hollywood becoming more sophisticated (like comics have) or is this an anomoly?
Oh and as a NYC frequent filmgoer; two words; CELL PHONES
-Dr. F
PS write some DW reveiws. This season is asstounding.

asha said...

Hey i love the entire concept of Hancock being a drunkard super hero. I think he'll do a great job.
I just love his attitude!! has some inside stuff on Hancock.
Have a look at it!!
Can't wait to see the movie!!