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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Hancock. . . the movie that's its own sequel.

Just saw Hancock, the latest in the current explosion of superhero movies, and I am left with the overwhelming sense of a missed opportunity. This is not to say that it's a bad movie, there are parts that are quite good. Unfortunately, right after the big reveal midway in, the film loses its way, and we go from something that could have surpassed Iron Man in awesomeness, and end with something that's just ok.

The problem is, I think, a failure of nerve on the part of the screenwriters. The first half of the film is great on just about every level. We have a story that is centered on the concept of a superhero, we have a deeply flawed character that has the physical omnipotence of Superman, and has a problem that cannot be solved by his Godlike powers. It is a perfect set-up for a good drama, and the titular character's attempt to redeem himself, both in his own eyes, and in the eyes of the public, is a powerful engine driving the movie forward. The tension in every scene is held, not by any external threat, but by the potential that Hancock could snap and do something to destroy any chance of him succeeding in becoming a worthwhile hero.

And, for some reason, the screenwriters didn't think this was enough to carry a whole film. So we have two films. The first is the character drama I describe above. The second feels like a sequel to that much better film. Where the first move goes places that most superhero movies don't get near, and actually avoids most, if not all of the clich├ęs, the second film is pretty much the textbook boilerplate of the cheezy superhero movie. Have your hero deal with a problem originating (so to speak) with a character related to their origin, make sure they have an explicit weakness, make sure the villains show up to exploit that weakness, and somehow have the hero overcome despite being terribly weakened in power. . .

The problem with Hancock is none of the second half is foreshadowed in the first. Much of the important plot points (like his origin) are blown over way too quickly giving a serious WTF vibe to the transition. In addition, because the way the second half is compressed, there are major plot holes. (How'd the villains just happen to show up when he was vulnerable? If this certain someone knew the consequences of being in the vicinity of Hancock, why would this person remain in LA after Hancock started appearing on the news? What did Hancock do between Miami and LA?)

All those elements, and all those problems, would never have come up if they'd just stuck with the first movie. In that movie you don't really need an origin, and ignoring it would be better than the half-assed explanation we get in the second half of the movie. You don't need a designated villain or the arbitrary weakness in the first film because Hancock is his own worst enemy, and the story is about him winning over himself.

Anyway, if you go see it, see it for the first half. And if you need a bathroom break, wait until they toss the refrigerator. If you go after that, you won't be missing much.

3 comments:

adwin356 said...

Will Smith delivers a good performance over-all.I like Will Smith's films. They are not great, but they entertaining.The beginning was great - funny, and unexpected.really a great performance by Will Smith....I really enjoyed this...wanna watch this superb performance by Smith, then go ahead and Download Hancock Movie Free from here....

Anonymous said...

During the fight between Will Smith and Charlez Theron when they are fighting in the city, if you watch closly you will see what looks like a Transformer go from the left of the screen to the right. It is bigger than the people in the shot and turns to face the camera. Whole thing lasts about 3 seconds.

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