This is a repost of Will Smith as Hancock: Lacking Human Moments published first on Yahoo Voices Jul 16, 2008.
Will Smith’s movie “Hancock” is a superhero flick that struck me as lackluster at best. There are a few moments toward the end that worked but overall it was just a movie trying to win an audience through special effects.
In the beginning we find John Hancock curled up on bench in Hollywood, California. He’s clutching a bottle of booze much to the chagrin of a little kid urging him to go get the bad guys. This scene is wholly confusing and I found myself guessing that he was a well known bum with amazing powers. Sounds stupid huh? Well, I was 100% correct. In the first 2/3 of the movie we see Hancock go through rehab and do jail time. I kept hoping we’d get something to hold onto in terms of a moral, but it never came. I suppose one could justify that big chunk of the movie by saying it shows people should be responsible and stay in jail even when they have the superhero ability to break any brick wall down (or thick steel for that matter). I’m sorry but the morals here, which are always there in great super hero movies, are cloudy if not non-existent. This superhero movie had no morals and therefore slipped and fell most of the way through. Now, in the last 1/3 of the movie it recovered somewhat, at least in the morals department. We find out he has a wife he didn’t know about and he does a few things to save her life. Without giving away too much of the plot, I will just say this moral of “selflessness” is presented in the most cryptic way it takes a movie reviewer to glean it, at least that is this movie reviewers opinion. If I were to ask one of my kids what the moral is of the scenes between Hancock and his wife I have a feeling I’d get a blank stare.
Should superhero movies be that complicated?
The second area the movie flopped in my opinion was the lack of human moments. Ironically, superhero movies are great because they reveal the humanity through the characters. Not only did these characters lack endearing human qualities, they seemed one dimensional, like a storyboard that was never fleshed out with human characteristics. I found the characters flat and built to serve only the grossly overdone violence that never stops from the first scene. This movie has tons of CGI effects that are neat to look at but unfortunately they don’t carry the weight needed to become a great superhero movie like “the Hulk” or “Spiderman.” I am a big Will Smith fan, but unfortunately, not even Will Smith can save this colossal train wreck.
Hancock will be a good rental for kids that want to see things get destroyed or by drunks that find identification in going to jail to sober up. For the rest of us working class heroes that need good movies to inspire and propel us to do great things, this movie will fall on empty ears and desperately-seeking-for-more than “Hancock,” human eyes. Those eyes, in case the makers of Hancock are interested, want morals and human moments in movies, it’s what keeps us coming back.