Friday, July 11, 2008

Hancock (review)

Superhero comic book writers were the forerunners to programmer nerds: supersmart, supercreative, outsiders, geeks. Or at least that's how I imagine them. The superheroes they created were a far cry from Archie and Jughead. They were complex characters with flaws to balance their strengths, philosophical quandries, self-reflection.

So it's really no surprise that superhero films are getting so interesting. The Superman movies were pretty run of the mill, but Tim Burton took the genre into new territory with the first two Batman movies. Since then there have been hits and misses, but the good superhero movies keep getting better. And better. And better.

I can't explain the reviews of Hancock. Rotten Tomatoes, which compiles hundreds of print reviews, rated it at 36%. The only thing I can think is that it doesn't follow the usual plot arc we're accustomed to for action films: it zigs and zags in ways that I thought were delightful, but apparently some people don't. Still, how did they miss what a great movie it is? How great the performances are by Will Smith, Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron, all of whom breathe real life into their characters? The one hiccup for me was a little thing with the moon at the end, but even that was sort of endearing.

The movie plays with the idea of superhero as monster - as a Boris Karloff/Frankenstein kind of monster. "I'm the only one of my kind" Hancock wails, as he accidentally leaves destruction in his wake even though he tries to do good. He's a man, not a monster, and so there is room for redemption, but redemption doesn't come through the usual channels: it's redemption as PR campaign, but redemption nonetheless.

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1 comment:

The Grumpy Voter said...

I watched it - it was okay, I guess.

I write superhero fiction mixed with urban fantasy and it was a different take on it, for sure. If you're interested in reading any of my crap, it's at my website.