Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hancock (2008)

Holy Hangovers, Hancock!

- Will Smith continues to star in his favorite genre as of late: science fiction. His latest one, Hancock (2008), is an unusual sci-fi/superhero flick - and that is one of the biggest reasons why it is also a *good* sci-fi superhero flick.

Hancock throws the audience into a world where superheroes are a nonchalant matter-of-fact.
It would not be uncommon for Angelinos living in this film world to turn on the TV to news that Los Angles' unofficial city superhero, John Hancock (Smith), has ruined a part of town again with his own version of crime fighting. Hancock is not your typical superhero. He will not be found perched on a rooftop somewhere waiting to pounce into action upon hearing a scream from a distressed damsel, the whirr of an emergency siren, or seeing a special signal in the sky. He can be found passed out at any one of the conveniently placed benches throughout the city - whiskey bottle in hand, hat over his eyes, and five' o'clock shadow ever-present. He will get up and "help out" if he feels like it - but he will play by his own rules, which usually means destroying everything in sight because he could not care less about anyone or anything. You can guess how much the city loves him. One day, Hancock saves Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), a public relations professional, who is determined to help Hancock with his image. As Hancock attempts to turn himself around, crooks get in his way and things get complicated between him and Ray's wife Mary (Charlize Theron).

Hancock is not a perfect movie. Sometimes the film does not follow its own set-up rules, is too weird for its own good, and incorporates a bit too-heavy-handed a style. But, overall, Hancock is one of the better superhero films around. The film can be very funny but it also finds time for some real sci-fi style drama through its character-centered story. Most superhero films could care less about character, as action and special effects often take center stage, but Hancock revolves around its characters more than most films in the genre. Of course, Hancock is also action-packed. A lot of the film's attempts at stunning CGI action scenes do not work out very well (sometimes you think you are watching a video game demo) and the camera shakes around a bit too much (let's leave the shaky-camera style with the boring Bourne series, thank you) - but most of the film's action is very fun and exciting.

The lead performances are also hit. Will Smith performs the lead role with his usual charm, emotion, humor (mostly dry in this case), and general likability. He is the film's nucleus - it just would not function right without him. But Smith is not the whole show: Jason Bateman is very entertaining, Charlize Theron works well in her role as well, and Eddie Marsan plays a great greasy villain. Everyone creates likable characters that really make the film watchable.

Overall, Smith and an unusual superhero tale makes this film a pretty entertaining hour and a half. Hancock is not a perfect film but it is better than most of its superhero sub-genre.

CBC Rating: 7/10

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