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Directed by Peter Berg.
Written by Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan.
Starring Will Smith, Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron.
Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  7/2/08


I think the premise of "Hancock" is great.  Some people are just assholes, and in the case of our hero John Hancock (Will Smith), he's a grade-A asshole.  Skirt chaser, alcoholic, verbally abusive towards all people regardless of color, creed, socioeconomic background, you name it.  It just so happens that, in modern-day Los Angeles, Hancock is the rough equivalent of Superman.

So, what if this guy decided, with the help of a PR specialist (Jason Bateman), to improve his bad image by going to prison to serve time for his, ahem, "off-the-field" incidents, and then get summoned by the chief of police to go back to his save-the-nation-from-crime ways?  All of this comprises the film's first half, and it is what is given to us in trailers as the plot anyway, so most of you already know this is going to happen.

But, that gets us to the 45-minute point, and we've got to find a way to fill up more than forty minutes of screen time.  What do the filmmakers do?  They come up with a fix, a way to sort of explain how's it is possible for Hancock to have any weaknesses.  It also opens the door to possibly give us a bad guy, and with only three characters to speak of in the whole movie, it gives us a narrow field of suspects.

"Hancock" wasn't anything special up to the halfway mark anyway, but this mid-film plot twist kills off the film altogether.  Also, "Hancock" has an amazingly bad, sparse, one-trick-pony script that gets thin after Hancock stops cursing old people or fat people or small children.  (Laying both this script and the script for "I Am Legend" together, I am starting to worry a bit about Will Smith after one of his better career highlights, "The Pursuit of Happyness.")  And to this the strong reliance--necessary--on CGI for "Hancock", I was left staring at the walls, other peeps' cell phones and my inner soul for long stretches during this film.

Was it all bad?  No, but mostly.  Bateman is normally a guaranteed laugh machine, but that doesn't happen here in "Hancock", again in part due to the script.  Smith does surly quite well, and I am sure that means he was acting, because he doesn't whip out the trademark smile even once during this film.  But, his Hancock character is so badly written, and in transition shots at prison, he seems to have nothing to say or do, save for 1) shooting full-court basketball shots, or 2) saying "Pass" during his therapy sessions.  Wow, this is invigorating stuff!!  Even the child actor who plays the PR guy's son looks kind of weird...were there no decent, normal-looking actors available?

"Hancock" banked big dough in its first weekend, so I'm not worried that its quality will matter.  But, I'm sure that even Smith wants to get back to work soon, to improve upon this piece of dung ASAP.

Rating:  Hard Vice


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09