Movie Review: Hancock


Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Peter Berg
Starring: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman
Production Company: Sony Pictures

Something must have happened during production on Hancock. I’m talking about the great first act, the build up of the character, the Superman complex: a God trapped in a man’s body, the initial hurdle Hancock had to overcome and the title character’s progression into becoming the God everyone needs, rather than everyone hates. It was artfully handled, I felt for Will Smith. His portrayal of a Superhuman trapped in the everyman’s world of L.A., a crime infested city where each time he helps, and he’s causing more property damage while trying to stop the bad guys. He’s an alcoholic, but we still like him. He’s easily hateable, but there’s the one guy that truly believes in him, and gets him to reform (Jason Bateman). Instead of being grateful, the city is more satisfied pointing out his drinking habits and the whole ‘flying-while-drunk’ problem. So, to reform, his newly self-appointed P.R agent Ray (Bateman) makes it his mission to create a friendlier, family centric, professional Hancock. On good faith, he asks Hancock to do some time in a federal prison; reluctantly he complies – until the mayor needs his help in a downtown bank robbery/ hostage situation.

“Didn’t y’all like ALI?”

Okay, so at this point I’m not giving away too much, but he saves the hostages, puts the bad guys in jail and treats the people he’s saving with much more dignity and respect. He even asks a lady cop if it’s “Okay to have physical contact with her”. Seriously. So, at this point, you’d think the movie goes into a nice blue sky where Hancock flies away and we’re all happy that he’s become a round character and overcome his demons.


Instead, we’re treated with what seems like a half finished storyline involving Charlize Theron being his super-being wife. The twist here is that they can’t be in too close contact otherwise they start to lose their powers. Cue in some weird tornado’s in downtown L.A. when the two fight each other, and the fact that even though the movie sets the ground rules that: the closer they are, the weaker they get, the movie does a great job of not following this formula.

“I sooooo need to piss.”

For instance: During the fight between Hancock and Theron, she at one point throws a dump truck directly on Hancock. He’s able to get back up, no problem. Later on, in a hospital part, he’s getting the snot beat out of him by a couple of thugs: and for some reason Theron feels Hancock’s pain(?). To say the least, the inconsistencies of powers, the magical additional events that happen when the couple is together, and the lack of support of story adds up to a dismal second act, and a confusing third act. The only saving grace for me was seeing Charlize Theron alongside Jason Bateman again: I was hoping for some reference to ‘Arrested Development’, sadly, I was disappointed.

So we have a movie with an A-list star, major blockbuster bucks and a great marketing campaign. The videos were viral, and the public was pumped to see this as it’s been in development hell for at least 5 years. And for a movie in development that long, it sure felt rushed. The mythos isn’t properly explained, the Wolverine-esque amnesia back story that’s conveniently never revealed by Theron is never flushed out. The additional element such as the heat given off from Hancock and Theron together isn’t explained, and neither is the fact of how they were made or what the exact origins are. I’m sure the movie was written this way to get the public salivating for more, but the way the subject is handled is clumsy and we’re more annoyed than curious.

That being said, if were to grade Hancock on the first 40 minutes, it would stand alone as a pretty good movie. Taken with all the parts, it’s much more baffling, rushed and incomplete.

5.0 out of 10.

Movie Review: I am Legend

I am Legend
Year Released: 2007
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Will Smith, a bunch of zombies and his dog
Production Company: Warner Bros.

Will Smith is a bankable star, if not a likeable one. As Robert Neville, the last man alive in a city full of zombie-like/infected monsters, he carries it well without his brand of off-the-cuff humor we’re so used to in his past roles.
Legend is the cautious tale of tempering with vaccines, and what could happen to the world, should a potential cure for cancer mutate, and turn regular people into night zombie/vampire creatures. Robert Neville is the last infected man alive, lives and faithfully sends out radio transmissions everyday from his base in New York. As flashbacks indicate, the virus outbreak was partly his own responsibility, and he is seemingly immune. Being a military scientist, he conducts experiments to cure the virus, but time is running out as the city is infested with the infected zombies. Pretty cool premise, huh?

Legend didn’t quite fill my movie needs many terms. As a stand alone movie, it falls short in many categories. Director Francis Lawrence takes too long developing the idea that a major metropolitan city as New York has become a deserted wasteland of metal, overrun by weeds and wildlife. I get that, the audience gets that, so why dedicate more than 3/4 of the film to show it? Not exactly the sort of thing you want to continue to show if you want to prove a tired point: in Lawrence’s case, he’s trying to prove to the studios he’s worth signing on for another feature film. Hey, more power to the guy, but the focus should really have been on making the Neville a little more consistent.

I remember when I am Legend was being developed by Ridley Scott, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was attached as Robert Neville. Man, those were exciting days; an A-list star and a powerhouse director. Unfortunately, it all fell apart due to overblown budgets, and this project went into development hell for more than 15 years. The names alone would have attracted me, and a master filmmaker like Scott would have been able to put the focus on the characters (ie. Matchstick men, or to a greater extend: any of his tent-pole movies) with the background as a supporting tool.

As a remake, the film is good. As a stand alone movie, it’s a half hour too short, and there’s not enough directions this film could have gone. Some characters are created but not introduced; which leads to clumsy relationships. Hopefully that doesn’t spoil too much. I could only take so much of Smith talking to himself and going through the same flashbacks, of non-zombified New York.

There’s also a HUGE inconsistency in how these movie monsters work as well: Neville, an army scientist records for us his findings: apparently these creatures are without any sort of proper thought process, only feeding on whatever ‘clean’ blood they find. All the actions of these creatures makes this statement true: they’re mindless zoned out creatures with lightning fast speed, only looking to feed in the night because the sunlight burns their skin.

This totally undermines the entire premise of the film for me. First, they introduce the ground rules, then break them to create tension. It’s an utterly worthless gesture that only serves to confuse the audience, and tack on the next stupid move for Smith’s Character: revenge. He’s only been alone, being ever so careful for the last three years as the last man: and he does something totally out of character and completely reckless.

If you want flashy visuals with no moral conundrums, by all means see I am Legend. If you want a movie that will make you think about consequences: check out Children of Men.

6 out of 10