Peter Berg’s upcoming “Hancock” is the only comic book superhero movie not based on an actual comic book, and from all the advance reviews we’ve read on the movie, the film has an apparently very spectacular blah Third Act, i.e. the final 20-30 minutes of the film goes so far off the track that many reviewers don’t know quite what to make of it. At the time of this writing, the movie has a staggeringly low 29% Fresh rating (i.e. positive reviews) on RottenTomatoes, which is, as you might imagine, not so good for a movie starring Will Smith, Jason Bateman, Charlize Theron, and directed by Peter Berg set to open tomorrow.
Some quick hits:
Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times scratched his head at the movie’s oft-mentioned weird turn of events later in the film:
But then, just about without warning, “Hancock” makes a completely unexpected and head-shaking plot turn that derails the film in a way that it never recovers from. This second part of “Hancock” has the further disadvantage of coming up with its convoluted rules as it goes along, making it especially hard to understand what is happening to its characters or the reasons for its events.
Variety’s Todd McCarthy also has issues:
Such vulgar goofiness is one thing in an Adam Sandler film, but doesn’t sit well in the rough-and-ready realism of Berg’s raw visuals, which grievously misapply hand-held jitteriness to material that demands more precise stylization.
The genre satire and numerous Will Smith moments, with the star throwing off the attitude-laden quips and looks auds expect from him, carry the first half without too much trouble, in anticipation of where the film will go from there.
Where it goes, unfortunately, is right down the tubes.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Stephen Farber is equally befuddled:
The best comic book movies develop a rigorous and logical mythology. As “Hancock” races toward its spectacular but muddled finale, it keeps rewriting its own rules in an effort to pander to the audience. The storytelling lapses are not helped by Berg’s frenetic direction. As he showed in his most recent film, “The Kingdom,” Berg is addicted to intense close-ups and kinetic hand-held camera movement. He seems to be worshiping at the altar of Michael Bay.
But hey, enough of the negative nannies. Here are some positive ones (and yes, they were hard to find — remember, 27% Fresh rating):
Connie Ogle from the Miami Herald liked it just fine:
Smith has long been the cinematic king of the Fourth of July weekend, and he hits some great comic notes as a lost boy and, eventually, a man struggling toward redemption. The real hit of the movie, though, is the hilarious Bateman (who also co-starred to great comic, then terrifying, effect in Berg’s The Kingdom). His low-key humor makes you wish Hancock could have saved Bateman’s short-lived sitcom Arrested Development.
Jeff Otto of ReelzChannels also appreciated Hancock’s sensibilities:
Hancock is just good, clean, summer popcorn fun. It’s a little gritty, a little over-the-top and more than a little silly. The CG is overdone here and there and doesn’t always look top-notch, but most should be willing to overlook that in exchange for the next laugh. Smith clearly has fun sending up his image and the rest of the cast plays off him beautifully. The only thing missing is a worthy villain, but maybe that will come in Hancock 2. If you set your expectations to the right level (and if you buy a ticket to a movie about a drunk superhero, what are you really expecting anyway?) you should have a lot of fun at Hancock.
Well I know this much going into “Hancock” — I’m not going to be expecting anything that Will Smith hasn’t already given me in the past, which is good, clean, 90-minutes of popcorn fun in a darken theater. This ain’t no “Ali”, it’s more “Men in Black” and “Independence Day” from the sounds of these reviews. And let’s face it, those last two movies weren’t exactly “Gone with the Wind”, either.
What say you?
“Hancock” stars Will Smith, Jason Bateman, Eddie Marsan and Charlize Theron, and is directed by Peter Berg. It opens tomorrow, July 2.