It has been and appears it's going to continue to be an interesting movie year for those of us who have my kind of tastes in movies. Each weekend has a goodie in the theaters. And with the prevalence of super hero types (Iron Man, Batman, The Hulk, and permit me to include Indiana Jones whose superpower is to make money at the box office), I would like to reveal to you my very own super identity -- I am Ambivalent Man!
My super powers appeared on a warm Sunday afternoon in a smoke filled corner of California, or perhaps it was the evening before. All I know for sure is that when the lights went down and Hancock came hurtling toward me, I found myself watching the movie out both sides of my face.
On the one hand, I really like Will Smith, but on the other, I didn't care for the portrayal of Hancock. Smith did I fine job of acting as usual, but the Hancock character was too crude for this vehicle, moving this film from what could have been a clever reinterpretation of the comic book super hero to more of a crude barroom joke. I think barroom jokes can be funny. One of the funniest jokes I ever heard was the one about the divorce proceedings between Micky and Minnie, but it was one that should definitely not be told in public or to children.
On the one hand, the story is clever and novel. Maybe lots of people are smarter than me and could tell where this story was headed, but I was surprised by the plot twists. You can't guess the story from the trailers, and I can't really tell you too much without ruining your experience if you're going to go see it, but suffice it to say that it's not the story you think it's going to be. On the other hand, the cleverness didn't work particularly well. The ending falls flat. I felt more like the subject was changed than the plot resolved.
On the one hand, there were some great special effects scenes in the movie. You probably saw some of them in the commercials. On the other hand, you saw just about all of them in the commercials. A story of a super hero with emotional and psychological problems can be funny, but then you might have been better off with Rowan Atkinson than Will Smith. I wanted to see more of the comic interplay of the character's foibles and his super powers. If I had told this story, it would have more like The Pink Panther where the story is told and the characters revealed through Inspector Clouseau's bumblings.
But I, Ambivalent Man, did not write this story. So on the one hand, I can definitely say to you that Hancock is going to be another in a series of Will Smith blockbusters in which Will Smith does an excellent job and you could do worse with your movie bucks if want to go see it. On the other hand, WALL-E was playing just down the hall, and if the truth be known, I would have rather been there. Of this I am sure.
We started seeing the trailer for this movie back in what, April? I laughed out loud at the prospect of the drunken, disreputable super-hero, Hancock, recklessly saving lives -- but wrecking the city. I've seen the trailer again and again as we've attended movies this year, and I couldn't wait to see it. Today we went, snuggled down with our popcorn, and got ready to laugh.
And I did laugh, now and then. But it wasn't the comedy that I was led to believe it would be. And unfortunately, the timing of the laughs was far better accomplished in the trailer.
The musical score that accompanied the film had a split personality, by turns epic orchestra, then rap-like, but not really complementing the scenes. The color looked horribly overdone in a few scenes -- if my camera produced that distortion, I'd be in the market for a new camera.
The plot was two plots in one, really. Maybe it should have been two movies entirely. The "second" plot was a twist; I'm not going to write a spoiler here. I'll just say that Mary Embrey (played by Charlize Theron) had a reason for those funny looks she kept giving Hancock (Will Smith). The first plot, the one I went to see, was about Hancock being an alcoholic bum with super-powers who's so careless that people hate him. A public relations man takes on Hancock as a personal project after Hancock saves his life; Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) believes that he can help Hancock turn his life around and win the public's heart.
To this point, my review looks like I didn't enjoy the movie, but that would not be true. I did enjoy it very much, and thought that Will Smith and Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman worked well together. The concept was deliciously charming, all the more when we first see the hero flying along on his way to a rescue -- erratically and nearly catastrophically, because he is stinking drunk.
Over the years, I've come to really enjoy Will Smith, so much so that I'll pretty much go see whatever he stars in. (In fact the only Will Smith film I haven't seen in recent years is I Am Legend and that's only because there's a German Shepherd in the film that gets killed, and I'm still missing our Shepherd, Babe, too much after his death. I know I will blubber. In other fact, I even liked Will Smith in Wild Wild West, which was vastly despised by movie-goers everywhere.) Smith as Hancock was fine to watch, his slack-faced comedy amusing, his flickers of emotional expression full of messages. His voice is pleasant, and his figure worth looking at. He is a professional entertainer as well as an actor, and entertain he does.
There are two other considerations to take into account in my review; one is that I just went to see WALL-E for the second time yesterday, and although Hancock is a fun summer movie, the storytelling and execution pale beside Pixar's masterpiece. The second is that although there are other summer movies I intend to see and hopefully enjoy, I'm just hoping Santa Claus, or the Thanksgiving Turkey, or WHATEVER COMES ALONG AS SOON AS POSSIBLE is going to bring me a DVD of Iron Man.