Week 31: Hancock

MPAA#: 43295
Showtime: 9:10
Ticket price: 10.99
Seat: rear right
Shotgun: Jay and Lisa M.
Attendance: approximately 25
Weather: thunderstorm
Food: Full Throttle
Expectations: N/A (already viewed)
Pre-show ads: Toyota, Vitao, Telus
Trailers: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Bolt, Traitor, Step Brothers, Quantum of Solace


It’s appropriate that Hancock is the film for this week considering that last week I wrote about how I never seem to see original ideas in the movies. Now, Hancock is by no means original, but at least it manages to have some novelty, and that is what made it enjoyable for me.

Hancock is the story of a superhero (Will Smith) who has lost his memory and drinks too much. He is compelled to help people in trouble but his bad attitude and sloppy approach result in little gratitude from the police and citizens of Los Angeles. This changes when he saves a struggling Public Relations agent (Jason Bateman), who offers to help him create the kind of image that he deserves.

I will leave the plot synopsis there, since to say much more would ruin a nice revelation. Instead, let’s talk about what comic book nerds always love to talk about: superpowers. There are “rules” around which every hero must operate, and it took me a while to realize what comic book hero Hancock resembles the most.

The natural comparison would of course be with Superman, since he can fly and is basically invulnerable; but Hancock also has a peculiar sort of charm about him, in the supernatural sense. His sunglasses are damaged but his Nikes are not when he stops a speeding car by driving his feet through the floor and into the road. He throws a bullying child into the stratosphere and catches him a miniute later when he comes down, miraculously unhurt. He is responsible for millions of dollars of property damage but no one has apparently been killed or injured by his carelessness. There’s no other word for it: Hancock is magic.

There is a character in the comics who is much like Superman but whose power comes from magic: Captain Marvel, the strongman whose powers are activated by uttering the name of the wizard who passed them on to him (“Shazam!”) It was amusing to see Hancock throw a pair of criminals out of a high hospital window, almost certainly to their deaths, in the same way that Tom Tyler did in the 1941 Captain Marvel serial.

There is a low-key genius in this film’s script and effects, seamlessly incorporating a character who at one time would have been considered a god into our modern world. Smith, Bateman, and Charlize Theron do a fine job of creating a very peculiar love triangle within what is essentially a variation on the standard superhero origin story.

I think that like M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable, this film is best left as a one-shot examination of a type of hero and how he comes to terms with his power. Unlike that film, Hancock is so alone in our world that he must be his own nemesis. In that regard, he is just like the rest of us, and that is oddly comforting.

Crowd reaction at end of movie: none
Credit cookie?: there is a short throwaway scene shortly after the credits begin. I’m guessing it was originally elsewhere in the movie and got cut.
For further consideration: I can accept the unbreakable Nikes, but unbreakable eggs? Come on.
Opening next week: Pineapple Express, Sisterhood of the Travelling Panties 2, Hell Ride, Bottle Shock, Elegy
Hoping for: Pineapple Express

About Scott M

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