July 12, 2008

There are heroes. There are superheroes. And then there’s…

Posted in Action, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Movies at 5:50 pm by inflickted

Here’s a question, why is it, despite Will Smith’s charisma and box office success, he hasn’t played a superhero until now? Plus, the role he plays is a drunk, insensitive a-hole of a superhero. It could be the lack of a “proper” role to play, or maybe because of traditionalist reasons. It could even be a racial thing, but let’s leave that kind of politics to the children. Whatever the case maybe, Hollywood has a way of creating something somewhat original from a pool of what’s already been done. And finally, we see Will Smith in tights and with super powers.

We get a movie about a superhero who isn’t really much of a hero. The film makers treat the genre in a more realistic light, by continuously asking the question: What would a man with superpowers do in a world where he is the only one of his kind? And also, what if the people in that world didn’t like him? It would be an insight – ironically – into the human psyche of a super being living in a mortal world. It has a great premise to back up the great actor. This is my review of the movie, “Hancock”.

Under the direction of Peter Berg (The Kingdom and Friday Night Lights), some shots had some realistic reactions, angles and swift pans which is thought of to add more effect for the viewer. Every time something crashes, or is smashed, the camera shakes along, sometimes losing focus. Quick pans are also seen as to add the effect of speed and sudden events. The director does a pretty good job of establishing the primary characters of the movie and giving them a solid personality. The action sequences are massive and exciting. On the other hand, it lacks enough emotion at times. You know what the director is trying to make you feel, unfortunately, you just can’t seem to completely be in the moment.

The film’s saving grace is its actors, and what a powerhouse this trio is. We of course have our anti-hero, “John Hancock,” played by Will Smith. I have seen and loved a lot of Smith’s movies and I must say, his performance here is as compelling as the one in “The Pursuit of Happyness.” He once again scores A’s all throughout while sprinkling his sarcastic brand of comedy as he flies by. We also have Jason Bateman as “Ray Embrey,” a PR who is trying to change the world for the better. His character is painted in such a favorable light, that I actually liked his character more than Will Smith’s. You know, If you dig just a little deeper, you’ll see who’s the real hero I this movie. Charlize Theron plays “Mary”, Ray’s Wife. Good performance, but if some other actress played her role, it wouldn’t make that much of a difference really.

Other than Will Smith, the film’s most attractive quality is its premise. The movie as a matter of fact, is highly entertaining. Frenetic and funny, the first half constitutes a summer adventure with wild special effects and snarky jokes. The second half constitutes a dive into the inner conflicts of our hero and the people around him. It is this second part which differentiates the flick from all other stereotypical superhero offerings. However, the movie also stumbles on the second part because it suddenly felt as if the film makers rushed things, creating a scapegoat just to end the movie on an audience friendly note. You’ll feel  hurried with the script, the sudden developments, and the fast paced rush of information as the movie doesn’t really give you time to piece it all together. Then, as emotional as the ending is, you can’t completely grasp the tone of the scene. Part of you feels for the characters, but then another part is still beleaguered.

“Hancock” is still a good watch despite its shortcomings. It is a solid action/comedy movie with an admirable storytelling ambition. It’s bankable star will definitely generate enough sales to qualify the film as a summer blockbuster. It could have been a true blockbuster if only its filmmakers stuck with the plan and held steadfast to their idea, rather than, in a way, creating a deeper and manlier version of “My Super-Ex Girlfriend.”

It gets a mean 3.7 out of 5 or 74% infectious


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