By Phil Boatwright
The Movie Report
Cast: Will Smith, Jason Bateman, Charlize Theron
Director: Peter Berg
Rating: PG-13 mostly for language
An unpopular superhero saves the life of a PR executive, who attempts to salvage his public image. Hancock is one of a kind, a super-being with amnesia, preventing him from knowing his past. But what’s this? Is there another super-being on the planet? And might she look like Charlize Theron?
For me, head-scratching began as I heard Will Smith, a reported Christian, misusing Christ’s name in order to emphasize his character’s flaws. Then I noticed that the film’s tone was different from that of the movie trailer. And along with its clumsy and overly familiar humor, the film was just plain ugly.
The movie is filmed entirely with a handheld camera that weaves and bobs as if the holder had delirium tremens. An unsteady Steadicam is often used to project nervous energy, or inject a production with a vigor that the script didn’t possess. It’s become a style, one utilized by every artiste who ever made a music video. It just won’t go away.
Besides that gimmick, the close-ups and the lighting give it a harsh feel, as if it’s supposed to be a 60 Minutes exposé. It’s a bad looking film, and that’s not easy to do with stars like Smith and Theron filling the screen.
The tone is unsettling and unconvincing, dealing first humorously with the superhero’s slothful behavior, then becoming some kind of boring psychological study. Although I’m a fan of Smith’s,here herelies entirely on a charismatic charm (and special effects) to do all the heavy lifting.
It’s not a bad film, but with the glut of summer’s superhero movies, it’s easy to compare what works (Iron Man) with what doesn’t (The Incredible Hulk). Though Hancock is a step above The Incredible Hulk, it fails to amuse or impress as much as we had hoped from a Smith action-comedy-adventure.