B- Sound: B- Extras: C- Film (theatrical and uncut): C-
Superheroes arrived in the 1930s, the idea that one could be African American
seemed impossible and an anomaly, even if one (Superman) was an alien from
outer space. Even with mostly white
heroes, the genre was still
considered too subversive and became the subject of censorship by the
1950s. When it returned, the
counterculture soon followed and there were the occasional Black Superheroes.
spoofs and comedies, Captain America got The Falcon, then there was Black
Lightning, Black Panther, Blade and one more serious and important than not,
Verb from Schoolhouse Rock. Even now, there are few such characters in
the genre and one of the goals of problematic actor-turned-filmmaker Peter
Berg’s Hancock (2008) is to subvert
that situation with the help of unstoppable box office star Will Smith.
plays an unlikable, alcoholic, drunken, crude, rude, annoying man with super
powers who sometimes uses them to help people, but is so unfocused that he
always does more harm than good no matter what he does. If only he could get his life together, but
that seems unlikely as he does not know much about himself, how he has the
powers and teaming with a smarmy publicist (Jason Bateman) only aggravates the
as amusing as the idea could be, the film (especially in Berg’s hands) becomes
a non-stop series of explosions and wrecks.
If the idea is to send-up the genre on some level, Berg cannot begin to
develop enough ironic distance to make that aspect of the film work. Before anything like character development
can start (as is usually the case with Berg) we get more banal plot twists and
more overproduced (and overly digital) action sequences. The result is a film that is more miss than
hit and despite it box office success, never really adds up or is very
memorable. Wonder if a likely sequel
will work better?
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image looks about as good as it could on DVD,
despite some detail limits and lack of depth issues, while the Dolby Digital
5.1 mix is punchy and can be strong, but the sound design sometimes runs
awry. The Blu-ray is likely to play
better. Extras include Digital Copy for
PC and PC portable devices and seven featurettes about the film.
- Nicholas Sheffo