Jul. 11th, 2008

evadne_noel: A man and the cresent moon in a rowboat (Random pirates by songstressicons)
I really liked the first half of this movie, so let’s talk about that first (that’s right; you have to read the boring nice stuff before getting to the funny mean stuff).

Will Smith plays his standard 4th-of-July-Character (named Hancock this year), with the added bonus traits of superpowers and a drinking problem. Will Smith has trouble dealing with the fact that he is the only superpowered being on the planet, and tries to assuage his existential angst with vast amounts of liquor and massive property damage. Perhaps not the best way to deal with it, but at least it’s not crappy poetry, right?

Into his life comes Jason Bateman, playing Michael Bluth if the rest of the Bluth family were occasionally altruistic drunks with the ability to fly, who believes strongly in Will Smith’s ability to put aside the alcohol and angst, and become a true force for good in the world. He uses his PR training to improve Will Smith’s public image and his boundless optimism to convince Will Smith that world wants to love him.

I just want to point out for a second that, though I was being mocking, I don’t really mind that both Will Smith and Jason Bateman are playing the same characters they always do. They’re both good at their type, and I would be honestly disappointed if I went to see a Will Smith movie in July, and he was playing a soft-spoken accountant who loves puppies and thinks that wise-cracks are a conversational refuge for those with nothing substantial to add. Jason Bateman is the quintessential nice guy on-screen, and I like that. If Smith and Bateman are disappointed with typecasting, it’s their problem, not mine.

Charlize Theron plays Jason Bateman’s wife, the last important character in the movie, though, unfortunately, in the good half of the movie she exists only to cast foreshadowy aspersions on Will Smith and tote around the “Hi! I’m so adorable!” child. This is a pity, because what goes wrong with her character in the second half isn’t her fault; it’s the screenwriters. But I’m skipping ahead.

So, to wrap up the nice half of this review, Hancock starts out with a really good premise and a pretty good execution. After all the comic book movies we’ve be getting recently, and will be getting in the future, it’s a good anti-superhero (not anti-hero, mind you) antidote. Will Smith and Jason Bateman are funny and engaging, and you can really see Will Smith’s character dealing with his bitterness and antipathy. Of course you know that Will Smith is eventually going to improve as a superhero and, um, human being, but his first attempts are hilariously stilted. He’s uncomfortable in his new role as a “real” hero, but not so much that it becomes an embarrassment squick (and I have a really refined squickometer). It’s a good progression, and I only wish it could have continued, because it’s right at this point that movie starts to go downhill.

Cut for spoilers )

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March 2009

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