Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Monday, October 12, 2009


"Hancock" is one of those movies that sounds great in the pitch meetings because it has that "high concept" value. You can picture some producer in an office or board room saying to the studio execs, "OK, here's the thing: we got a guy and he's a superhero, but get this--he's drunk, reckless, and angry!" To which the execs think about it a moment and then nod and say, "What a great idea!"

The problem with movies like "Hancock" then is the high concept often enough can't sustain an entire film. Not even 90 minutes in the case of this one. There's just not enough depth to the story or characters to make it work anywhere other than the board room or the previews.

As you'd expect, "Hancock" starts off promisingly when John Hancock (Will Smith) foils three gun-toting criminals in his usual reckless style, smashing buildings and pavement in the process--the bill is estimated at $9 million. Later that day, Ray (Jason Bateman) is coming home from an unsuccessful meeting trying to save the world by getting corporations to pony up more dough to charity. He gets caught on the railroad tracks right as a train is coming. (This being a movie of course he can't get the safety belt to work so he can run away.) In drops Hancock to save him and cause a few million more in damages. Ray decides to use his PR skills to remake Hancock's image. His wife Mary (Charlize Theron) is skeptical of this.

The first part of Ray's plan involves Hancock surrending to authorities and going to jail for various crimes superheroes in other movies are never arrested for--destruction of property, obstruction of justice, and so forth. Hancock can break out any time he wants, but he stays for the meantime to wait until the public needs him again. Once they've seen how much crime goes up without Hancock, the people of LA will decide that a few million in destruction is worth it.

From there the movie goes off the rails with a ridiculous plot twist to explain Hancock's origins. (He woke up in a Miami hospital 80 years earlier with no memory, taking the name John Hancock from a nurse who told him to put his "John Hancock" on the release forms.) The twist involves Mary and leads to an epic confrontation that puts Hancock, Mary, and Ray all at risk. This twist is also so vague and ridiculous that it really brings down the last half of the movie.

That's what I meant at the beginning when I said a lot of these high concept films sound better in meetings where they can be summarized in one line. Trying to flesh out these broad concepts into an actual movie is what leads to the ridiculous twists and other nonsense.

Still, as far as movies go, it's fun--especially in the beginning--to watch Hancock stumble around, break things, and toss bullies miles into the air. The language and Hancock's drinking problem might not make this suitable for younger viewers. I'd say to rent this when it does come out on DVD if you want a slight change from superhero fare like "Iron Man" or "The Incredible Hulk." It might be hard though as you sit through the second half not to think of other, much better possibilities than is presented.

That is all.

(My score: 2/4 stars)
(Metacritic score: 49)

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