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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Comedy > Drama > Hancock (2008/Sony DVD)

Hancock (2008/Sony DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C-     Film (theatrical and uncut): C-



When 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.


Excluding 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.


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 situation.


Unfortunately, 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?


The 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


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