Hancock

    The superhero genre is coming into it’s own. And it’s not just because there are five major releases in the genre this blockbuster season. Hollywood is now beginning to create it’s own heroes and not just use ones from the comic books. The idea of a powerful being, using his or her gifts to fight crime is a surprisingly attractive concept. It speaks to several different psychological needs in people. First and foremost of course are adolescent power fantasies. Comic book geeks dream of being able to defend themselves against the bullies that torment them and save the girls who disdain them.  But there is also the idea that it would be nice if there were powerful beings here to protect us from external threats and internal follies. Both appeals are nearly universal. And Hollywood is starting to get it.
    Hancock probably falls more into the second category. John Hancock is a Superman type, indestructible with super strength and the ability to fly. Eighty years ago he woke up in a hospital in Miami with all these abilities and no memory of who he was. Since then he’s been drifting, fighting crime but also drinking and causing a tremendous amount of property damage while trying to do good. He’s so far gone that he doesn’t care what people think about him. And the people of Los Angeles are about fed up with him.
    One day, Hancock saves Ray Embrey, played by Jason Bateman, from a train collision. In gratitude, Ray  wants to help Hancock rehabilitate his image. Ray is a public relations man who has been trying to get corporations to donate money or products to good causes in exchange for the right to put a heart logo on their packaging. He’s not making much headway. Very reluctantly, Hancock agrees.
    Hancock is a sneaky film. It starts out seeming to be a typical Will Smith comedy, but something happens about two thirds of the way through that changes it into something else. I won’t tell you what, because that would ruin it, but what we end up with is a pretty good superhero movie. There are problems of course. The rules they’ve set up for Hancock’s powers seem a little arbitrary and they break them conveniently during the climax. But the effects are good and the performances, especially by Will Smith and Jason Bateman are terrific.
    Even though Hancock doesn’t have the advantage of being a known hero in the Marvel or DC universes, he’s a welcome addition to this superhero summer.

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