Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 28
 
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
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Cinema

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


HEY KID, STOP BUGGING ME: Disgraced superhero John Hancock (Will Smith, left), is clearly annoyed because he was aroused from sleeping off a drunken binge by a young admirer who recognized him as he walked past Hancock.

Hancock: Will Smith as Alcoholic Superhero in Need of a New Image

Kam Williams

John Hancock (Will Smith) is a superhero who has fallen out of favor with the public, and for good reason. He can usually be found passed out with a bottle of whiskey in his hand, sleeping on a bench in downtown Los Angeles. He antagonizes pedestrians and routinely curses curious little kids for waking him or tries to molest attractive women as they pass by.

When he springs into action as his crime fighting alter ego, in addition to stopping or preventing the crime from happening, he ends up causing additional trouble. For instance, there’s the time he appeared, while drunk, during a televised police freeway chase and lost his temper when the fugitives inside the white SUV taunted him by calling him names. Angry, he lost control of himself and ended up impaling their auto on the spire atop the Capitol Records building.

The cleanup of that messy arrest cost the city $9 million and was the reason the chief of police (Greg Daniel) urged the disgraced superhero to leave town. Just as Hancock hits rock bottom, he is offered a chance at redemption by Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), a man he had rescued from a car stuck on train tracks at a railroad crossing that was about to be demolished by a locomotive with a full head of steam.

Grateful to Hancock for saving his life, Ray, who is a public relations expert, offers to overhaul the superhero’s tarnished image and thereby solve all his problems. Ray brings Hancock home to meet his wife (Charlize Theron) and young son (Jae Head). He convinces Hancock to attend alcohol and anger management counseling sessions, and to don a superhero outfit so that he will look like a superhero.

However, Hancock has a very big secret, which if divulged here, would entirely spoil the movie for the reader. Suffice it to say that he’s suffering from amnesia, so he himself is initially unaware of the rabbit that is about to be pulled out of the hat.

In a summer blockbuster season with several comic book adaptations such as Iron Man, The Hulk, and Wanted, the last thing we need is a spoof of the superhero genre that is so unpleasant and unfocused. A major flaw in the film is that the protagonist isn’t even likable.

Who can sympathise with a surly, foul-mouthed misanthrope? Nobody wants to root for a superhero who denigrates women, bullies children, and makes a pass at the wife of the only guy willing to help him.

Equally annoying is the awkward, improbable, and twisted plotline which can only be understood once all the pieces of the puzzle have finally been revealed.

Will Smith has a long association with July 4th blockbusters. Unfortunately, Hancock is more on the order of Wild Wild West than Independence Day or Men in Black. Don’t expect to laugh more than five times and you won’t be disappointed.

Fair (1 star). Rated PG-13 for profanity and sci-fi violence. Running time: 92 minutes. Studio: Columbia Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

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