Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ah July 4th, a time of year which brings us BBQ's and the 5 F's: Family, Friends, Fireworks, Fun, and of course Films. This years big Independence Day blockbuster is, of course Hancock starring Mr. July himself, Will Smith. This makes Smith's 5th July 4th Weekend release following Independence Day, Men in Black, Wild Wild West, and Men in Black II, and I have to say this one might be his best.

Now before I even begin my review I feel like I need to put something out there for all the parents who read this blog, this movie is rated PG-13 and while it's got some violence, it's mostly because of the language. The movie has one use of the F word, but mostly it's the movies very frequent use of the word A**hole. The word is used A LOT, I didn't count, but trust me it's likely if your impressionable kids walk out of the movie learning one thing it might be that word. So take heed it might just be a movie to see so you can decide if it's right for your kids.

I was one of a privileged few who got into a secret (free) screening hosted by Ain't It Cool News Friday night at midnight. The theater was pretty packed and from the sounds of the crowd people really dug the movie. As for me and my two guests we all walked out having really enjoyed it, more than any of us thought we would, and at least two of us plan on going back
and paying to see it.

The movie starts off with the sequence most of us have seen in the trailers by now. Smith's Hancock is sleeping on a bench while a car chase wrecks havoc through LA traffic. A kid wakes Hancock up and he reluctantly (and drunkenly) goes after the bad guys. During his "capture" of the bad guys Hancock causes millions of dollars worth of damage and we see how much the city of Los Angeles despises this so called Hero. Hancock has been the cause of so much damage and law suits in the city over the years that the D.A. is trying to figure out how to send him to prison and the citizens want him to leave town.

Enter Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) a public relations master whose new idea (think the (red) campaign) hasn't quite caught on. When Hancock saves Ray from being hit by an oncoming train, Ray sees the publics response to all the damage he's caused and how they overlook the good Hancock's done. So Ray sets out to offer his PR expertise to Hancock in order to make people see him for the hero he is, much to the chagrin of his wife Mary (Charlize Theron, a mini Arrested Development reunion).

Ray's first step is to have him volunteer to go to prison, where he will partake of anger management and alcohol counseling. The plan is to let the city see how much they need him and want him released from prison in order to lower crime rates. Hancock is able to learn to control his anger and accept that he's been sent here to be a Super Hero and help others.

After Hancock is released he is of course loved by the city and the citizens that once despised him. But it's at this point that the movie really takes off from the course you've assumed from the trailers. Because the ads for the most part haven't given any of this third act away, I won't either. I will say there is an origin story, which is really not at all what I thought it would be, but I think was a really original idea. (I will say you should avoid the newest ads as some of them appear to reveal more of the movie, which is a shame because the original ads left out so much, something I don't think is done enough in today's ads as most of them give away the entire movie.)

The movie has some really great action pieces, with a really good amount of character developing scenes strewn throughout. Hancock is a really good origin story which obviously leaves room for a sequel (and what blockbuster doesn't these days?)

There is really a small cast for this movie, mostly it all centers on Smith, Bateman, and Theron. There are a couple of scenes with Reno 911's Thomas Lennon and The Big Bang Theory's Johnny Galecki, but other than those it's pretty much the former trio's movie. And they do an amazing job with it. Smith plays both drunken jackass and reformed superhero superbly and once again shows why he's so well loved (even after crap like I Am Legend).

Bateman basically plays Micheal Bluth, his Arrested Development character, and you know what that's fine because he plays that character perfectly. Ray is the loveable down on his luck family man that you root for all the way. While Theron plays his impossibly hot wife, who doesn't like that he's working to help Hancock. The chemistry between the three leads really makes the films work and they all handle the comedy and action scenes well. It reminded me that Smith started out in comedy as The Fresh Prince. (That and before the movie they played clips from The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire)

The movie is a great mix of humor, action, and mystery as we try to figure out exactly who or what Hancock is. It's the perfect popcorn flick to spend a hot July day, sitting in doors watching. I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the movie. And if nothing else it's a great way to keep the Superhero summer going after watching Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk and it will certainly be enough to tide you over until July 18th when the real movie all comic geeks are waiting to see, The Dark Knight.


Jana said...

Dude, I loved I Am Legend. Sure, it had to make a few leaps, but Will Smith was outstanding. We're looking forward to Hancock.

The CineManiac said...

I Am Legend could have been a decent film had it left it's original ending intact, but the way the movie ended up, they set up way to many things and just left them dangling.
I mean the whole point was that the vampires were evolving, the one guy was mad because Smith took his companion and then he learned from Smith's trap and turned it on him.
Then in the end he just want to kill him, it was crap.
The original ending has the vamp taking his companion back and leaving Smith alive, and that was a better ending.
Although the book ending was even better.

jana said...

I never read the book, however, the movie definitely piqued my interest. I've added it to my list of books after I've finished Atlas Shrugged. I'm about half-way now. Then the rest of my life may resume! Although, the underlying theme with Smith's character was "I can save them," which he did by giving his own life. (you knew that was coming even before the end!)

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