Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ten Statements About....HANCOCK (2008)

These two people--and how they change each other's
lives--is what this movie should be about.
"You're built to save people, more than the rest of us. That's who you are. You're a hero, the Insurance Policy Of The Gods."

1) I can't lie; it really, really bothers me that Peter Berg is making this and the upcoming...grumblemutter...Battleship (Starring The Amazing Eighthead That Walks Like A Singer, Rhianna!) rather than more personal dramas like Friday Night Lights and witty adventure films like the Franchise-That-Never-Was, The Rundown.

2) And you can see why it bothers me at moments in the first two acts. For example, the way Berg uses a documentary-style structure when doing the scenes with Jason Bateman's Ray, even to the point of using a grainier film stock, creates a subliminal intimacy with him that puts us on his side and gives him our sympathy.

3) At its core, this is a film about two men and how they make each other better; the fact that one of them has super-human powers is only an obstacle to overcome. The second that third act hits, however, and the films decides it wants to be about this grand mythology and big, unnecessary fight scenes and even more unnecessary villains, the story totally collapses.

4) seems the only thing Vince Gilligan, who co-wrote this script, learned while serving under Chris Carter is how to obscure that he's making shit up as he goes along.

Usually, if you complain about Charlize Theron being in a
movie, they question your manhood.  Here, however...
5) John Powell's score is the worst kind of score--one of those Carpets of Sound that is so intent on telling us what we need to feel that they become intrusive. There are moments where the actors are, you know, doing their job and conveying what we need to know through body language (like the brief sequence where we first visit Hancock's trailer, and Will Smith's confusion and lonliness is palatable)...but Powell's blaring noisework just screams at you in the hopes you'll get it so much quicker. Well, Mr. Powell...screw you.

6) There are so many elements that get shoved into that third act that just muddy the waters of the plot--and none are nearly as muddying as Eddie Marsan's Red. There is simply no reason for him to come back save that the writers were afraid the audience wouldn't accept Hancock making the decision to leave L.A. just because it's the best thing for the two people--Ray and his son--who helped him become a better person without him (or worse, Ray) hitting somebody really, really hard.

Here, Will Smith drags composer John Powell's car back
to answer for his crimes against music....
7) You know why I love Charlize Theron? She's gorgeous, but in an extremely earthy way. And she acts like an actual human being, someone you could theoretically run into in your neighborhood. And, not surprisingly, she's at her strongest when we take it for face value that she's just like us.

8) I will give the special effects work credit--I didn't notice the CGI nearly as much as I probably should have.

9) Yes, this is a Peter Berg directed film...but you can certainly see Michael Mann's fingerprints in all the wet floors and neon of the hospital sequence at the end.

10) I can't help thinking that there have to be some consequences to defacing the moon like Hancock does in the final scene. Even granted it's paint...don't you think Ray would get in some sort of trouble?

Overall...when it's about Ray, this decent man rehabilitating and redeeming this broken down superhuman, the film actually works very well. But once we get that big revelation at the end of Act Two and the scripts starts deciding it needs some mythology to give the film gravitas, it lost me. It hasn't forced me to abandon my faith in Berg as a director, but it doesn't exactly confirm it, either.

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