Film Reviews

HANCOCK (Victoria)

By • Jul 2nd, 2008 •

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Morally bankrupt. And this is coming from someone who thinks Ted Bundy was misunderstood.

People, I’m joking! I have a file called “We are not evolving as a species.” It was reported last month that Austria’s incest dungeon monster pervert Josef Fritzl has received 5,000 letters. 200 letters were from women offering him love and affection.

In general, the women wrote telling depraved beast Fritzl that he is misunderstood and “good at heart”. They accepted his claims that he kept his daughter Elisabeth in a cellar for 24 years to prevent her from straying and to keep her safe from drugs and booze. They also believe Fritzl, who fathered seven children with his imprisoned daughter Elisabeth, wanted to teach her about the “joys of motherhood”. Fritzl, 73, who is being kept in Austria’s Sankt Poelten prison (in case you want to write to him), has also been sent a mountain of hate mail.

My Non-Evolving Species file has a sub-division called The Serial Killer Ignorant Wife Myth. Fritzl’s wife Rosemarie never noticed that the three infants he told her were dumped on their doorstep looked just like him and their other children. Her daughter was a sex-slave in her basement and she never had a clue. I say, let her pass a polygraph and then I’ll believe it.

Hancock (Will Smith) is a lonely, bitter alcoholic because he’s the only one of his kind with superpowers. My eyes started to well up with tears. So, instead of working on controlling and finessing his extraordinary superpowers, when he is “forced” by overwhelming tragedies, he destroys millions of dollars worth of Los Angeles property. He is rather fond of causing major car crashes involving hundreds of cars. Isn’t there serious prison time for defacing or destroying public property? Shouldn’t he be shipped off to Marion Correctional Institution in Marion, Illinois?

Apparently no. Not when it comes to Hancock.

As soon as I saw the blurry camera work, and the back of people’s heads obstructing a lead actors’ dialogue, I knew it was the trademark of only one director, Peter Berg. I complained about Berg’s camera work in THE KINGDOM, but obviously he didn’t listen!

With city taxes raised to repair the buildings, streets, and whole communities destroyed by Hancock, the people rise up against him. It’s not like he saved the next Albert Einstein. In fact, after causing a train filled with people and cargo to be derailed destroying a dozen cars and a city, he announces to the angry crowd that he did it to save one man, Ray (Jason Bateman). Ray is so grateful, he invites Hancock to fly him and his destroyed car home. Hancock meets Ray’s wife Mary (Charlize Theron) who immediately takes a dislike to Hancock. It’s clearly a chemical reaction and a cinematic sign of “foreshadowing”.

Ray is a public relations expert without, it seems, a job. He wants to rehabilitate Hancock’s public image. He doesn’t start with Hancock learning how to fix cars, roads, and buildings. Ray advises Hancock to go to jail to “pay back society” and say “Good Job”, “Please”, and “Thank You”.

There’s a neat twist but then the story collapses. If you even describe it you will find yourself trapped in a moral conundrum.

If you had superpowers, would you hide them so you could “fit in”? Or would you sneak around and use your superpowers when no one was looking? Would you let catastrophe upon catastrophe happen as you watched it unfold on TV? Would you let another person wallow in drunken self-pity if you could help them?

So, realistically, since HANCOCK takes place in the here and now, you are given an explanation that Dr. Suess would find implausible. The writers must have had a production start date deadline to meet and just decided Will’s disciples wouldn’t even notice. After all, it’s Big Willy’s Fourth of July Opening Weekend! We will not let him down!

The special effects are terrific, though WANTED still holds the alpha spot (at least for the moment). Smith does give it his all and doesn’t condense to wanting the audience to love his every on-screen moment. The glorious Charlize is a terrific casting choice, though I hope she will decide someday that she wants another Academy Award. Isn’t she in a grudge match with two-time winner Hillary Swank yet?

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