Film Reviews


By • Jul 2nd, 2008 •

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The opening is quite promising: a drunken man in beach-jammies, ski-cap, and a sloppy shirt stumbles awake, his booze stash within reach under the city bench he sleeps on. The scene is so grungy/filthy you can almost smell the rotten booze on the screen. This creepy wino hears news of a dangerous chase through the city, and he flies upwards with a violent force equivalent to a neighborhood-sized vacuum cleaner backfiring, spewing debris about.

This is the start of HANCOCK, and from there, it’s a slow downhill process. Hancock, the super-powered street trash, hysterically played by a restrained Will Smith, has a really good opening moment catching the bad guys. He grabs the bad-boys’ getaway car and plays a mid-air one-man game of keep-away with it, tossing the helpless robbers about. Hancock is a superhero the city of Los Angeles can’t stand (he causes behemoth-sized damage whenever he saves the day). Imagine the ladies on “The View” criticizing Superman every time he does good. Should be funny, right? The humor is drains rapidly from the screen. By the time he has that mid-film character arch, with a little story twist plopped on the audience’s lap, it has become too dry for a comedy, and too soulless for a decent drama. Think of THE WIZARD OF OZ rearranged where the first half of the film shows the colorful Emerald City, and the second half muddles through monotone Kansas.

Smith, as always, is a lot of fun (He’s one of the few saving graces of INDEPENDENCE DAY. He gave a wonderful solo performance in I AM LEGEND, and hell, I really liked his wise-ass talking fish in SHARK TALE!) Even when the film (tries to) play for pathos towards the end, he still has star power. Along the way, Hancock is aided by a self-help charmer (Jason Bateman) and his wife (Charlize Theron). Theron handles a character change with ease and humor.

The screenplay is the usual Hollywood cut and paste. Insert explain-it-all back story here, slide in vengeful villain with a handicap there, slide in the hero’s weakness here. Bind that all up with the usual “hero combats inner demons, demons come back for the climax ending”, and you have just phoned in a screenplay for a Hollywood blockbuster. Director Peter Berg seems to contantly want to remind us that we are watching something a camera is pointed at. Dialog scenes are shot hand held, like a You-Tube video. It’s as if he is saying “Well, what this actor is saying is dull, so I’ll jazz it up with shaky-cam.”

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