Sunday, July 6, 2008


When I first saw the trailer for Hancock I was really looking forward to its release. I mean, how could it go wrong? Summer superhero popcorn flick starring the king of the July 4th box office, Will Smith? Mr. Smith has a talent for picking projects that showcase his likable persona, and I had no doubt that Hancock would be no exception.

And then the critics started to rant. Using words like "mess," "disaster" and "train wreck"--and not in a "superhero saves the day" kind of way. With a 36% rating (rotten) on Rotten Tomatoes and a 49 on Metacritic, it looked like it would take a Herculean feat for the special effects extravaganza to recoup its reported $150 million dollar production budget.

I decided to go see it anyway.

But despite the critical derision, IMDB User Ratings are running at 7 out of 10 stars, it gets a solid 3 out of 5 stars on Moviefone and users at BoxOfficeMojo give it a B grade. Not too shabby. Add to that the fact that it's grossed over $185 million worldwide in five days and I'd say there are no worries about covering the production budget. So I decided to head off to an early showing this morning.

I liked it.

Really, I'm not sure what the critics beef is. It's not meant to be a classic superhero movie--Hancock is darker, more brooding and more troubled than Iron Man, Batman and The Incredible Hulk all put together. And Will Smith's visage achingly portrays that pain. He manages to make his curmudgeonly asshole of a superhero sympathetic. And really--who would love to boot some snot nosed kid to the moon every now and then? Some critics have complained about the lack of a comparable villain--but I'd say that the whole point of Hancock is that the villain is the demons we fight within ourselves. And the villain is our exaltation and denigration of our heroes. How we are unable to allow those we imbue with special abilities to be human. Fallible. Or, in the case of Hancock, assholes.

I liked the way Jason Bateman's PR guy wasn't the usual slick huckster, but instead a really nice guy who wanted to save the world. Bateman gives his usual scene stealing performance here. Someone needs to give him a starring role in a movie--I'd watch him for hours! And to be sure, the plot gets a bit twisted and convoluted at the end--but what superhero mythos isn't? Radioactive spider bites? Krytonite? Please. The special effects went by in a frenzy. For all the money that most likely was spent on them, it would have been nice if the audience actually had a chance to appreciate them. Still the multi-talented Peter Berg does a competent job with his direction and Hancock is ultimately just what it intends to be: a blockbuster summer popcorn flick. What's the problem with that?

This is not an adaptation of a DC or Marvel action hero. Perhaps comparisons to the already glutted superhero movie market are what's driving the disdain. Or maybe it's backlash at the talented and super successful Will Smith. Or yet another example of critical mass mentality where heaven forbid someone offer an independent and individual opinion. Will Smith fans will enjoy the movie, as will those who love Jason Bateman. It's dark and sad and twisted and funny with great action sequences and special effects. What's not to like?


  1. I felt the same way. I didn't love it - this wasn't a summer action blockbuster that I left the theater thinking, "I want to see it again!" - but I liked it.

    I saw a lot of people who felt the beginning was great and then it sort of fell apart so I was looking for that and just didn't see it. I did feel like they could have delved a little more into the back story but felt like they gave us just enough of a hint about it to fill it in ourselves.

    I will say that I don't think it was quite what the promo promised and maybe that's the issue people find themselves having with it? But that's not the film's fault and I thought the film delivered a better time than I was led to expect.

  2. See, I don't think it's "people" who are having issues. The "people" think it's a solid 3 out of 5 stars. The CRITICS are the ones bashing it.

    Some of the people who were in the audience during the showing I went to see laughed at some moments and even clapped at the end. I think it's a pretty decent popcorn flick. I don't know why the critics felt the need to trash it.

    But you're right--it definitely wasn't The Bourne Supremacy. But I don't think it ever intended to be.

    That being said, we'll have to wait until November for a big action blockbuster. Bond is back, baby! I'm so there...

  3. I liked it too, it wasn't so bad at all. Damn critics.

  4. Seriously! They gushed over There Will Be Blood and I enjoyed watching Hancock way more. I know TWBB is art and all and Hancock definitely ISN'T. But still, there's room for both kinds of movies!