I suppose that a review of the latest Will Smith movie, Hancock is past due: I should warn you that it is hard to review this film without at least hinting at spoiler materials. But I will be careful.
Hancock is a lot like eating popcorn at a movie theater: When you order the large popcorn with extra butter you have the feeling of anticipation, thinking of how good it will taste when you start chowing down on it in your seat. Sure enough it is good for a little while, until you work your way down far enough and all you are left with is popcorn -and no tasty buttery topping.
Yeah, Hancock's a lot like that.
I am probably coming off sounding abit harsh with that comment, because admittedly, Hancock is in large part what it was intended to be: Summer Fluff. In fact it is fairly decent fluff, it's just that I expected more from the concept. I don't even really know why, I just expected more ( I guess Will Smith has that effect on my expectations). I guess I just found myself initially enjoying this film but half way through the enjoyment factor started to wane - just like the popcorn butter, and I started wondering where this film was going.
Plotwise, Hancock starts off with a straightforward premise: a look into the life of a homeless, alcoholic man who just happens to have superhuman abilities on par with those of Superman. Director Peter Berg tries to make the most of a slightly off-kilter and lightweight concept but occasionally drifts into 'preachy' territory (especially with Jason Bateman's PR executive character) almost hitting the audience over the head with the now cliched tried and true 'with great powers' mantra.
Will Smith doesn't seem to have been given a whole lot of motivation for this character but does the best with what he has been given. It seems like the director decided to rely on a recurring sight gag however to establish an element of Smith's character - I'm reffering to the various times that Smith's character is called an 'asshole', and his predictable and volatile reaction to it.
Charlize Theron's character is a bit one dimensional and predictable; I really don't know if the 'twist' with her housewife character was supposed to be predictable, but by about a half hour into the movie it becomes pretty predictable that not all is as it seems with her character.
Jason Bateman's character is both mildly interesting and frustrating at the same time and for the same reasons. Again Bateman is another example of a character in this film doing the best he can with what he is given but not being given much to work with. After a while, his Humanitarian dreams get annoying.
The actual villain of the film is pretty much a throw away character that I can't help but think had more character development earlier in the development process but then saw it lost on the cutting room floor. He should not even be a threat to the title character of this film but proves himself to be quite the opportunist.
Visually, for the most part the movie works and looks quite good while doing so. Unfortuanately the opening sequence involving a police chase on the LA freways looked a little under developed and more like avideo game cut scene. When the initial Hancock movie trailers were released, this sequence was included in brief and then shown with more CGI included for the later trailer: even in the last trailer I thought that this scene looked a little weak. I am surprised they were not able to improve upon it for the final release. Fortunately this scene is not setting a precident for the rest of the movie which actually looks quite good visually.
In the last third of the movie, the filmmakers decided to bring in some rather high-handed pseudo-religious concepts that I felt was too much plot to be crammed into too little remaining movie time for a Summer blockbuster. Curiously though, this added plot element actually gives the studio a slim out : a possible plot device for a possible follow up or sequel without the principle leads in much the same way that Bruce Almighty left the door open to a sequel (ala Evan Almighty). Of course should any sequel be of the same quality as Evan Almighty, they might be better off not going that route...