Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hancock: A Four-Sentence Movie Review

Leading up to the summer, I thought the surplus of superhero movies would make Hancock kind of a flop, but I obviously (stupidly?) underestimated the power of Will Smith and the appetite for these kinds of movies, not to mention that no one's seen Big Willie Style play one of the guys in a tight leather outfit with abilities far beyond those of mortal men.

"What if Superman was an asshole?" seems to be the guiding premise of this film, and it starts out with such promise, addressing the millions of dollars in damage that's caused by these extraordinary displays of strength and power, and shaking up typical superhero story equations such as the hero being summoned to fight the bad guys, leaving said bad guys captured in precarious positions for the police, and invoking the awe and adoration of the general public.

I just wish Peter Berg (whose work I've really enjoyed, especially The Rundown) and his screenwriters would've dug deeper and pushed the idea even further, asking questions like why someone with superhuman abilities automatically decides to help people and be a hero, instead of using those powers to do whatever the hell he or she wants, and with Jason Bateman's publicist character trying to improve Hancock's approval amongst the masses, the opportunity was there to explore that territory.

One reassuring aspect of the movie is that an actress of Charlize Theron's talent (and I mean that sincerely) isn't given as useless a role as the marketing would lead you to believe, and actually has something meaningful to bring to the story (though her ultimate role seemed like a bit of a stretch that came out of nowhere, as entertaining as it was for a few scenes).