Superhero movies almost certainly feature a hero who rises to the challenge and takes it upon themselves to save the city or even the world. Despite their burden - "With great power comes great responsibility" - they still manage to put everything else on hold in order to try and protect the world from evil. "Hancock", on the other hand, offers a hero whose power goes past the level of burden to annoyance.
As the movie opens, there's a major expressway chase in Los Angeles, but Hancock is sleeping on a bench, trying to get over a hangover. When he flies off to check it out, he does so with bottle in hand and after yelling at the kid who informed him of the incident. After he's put an end to the situation, he's managed to cause $9M in damages to the city.
Shortly after, Hancock saves Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), the head of a PR company who watches as citizens criticize the superhero's recent actions. His idea: given Hancock an image makeover, which does come with a price: some prison time, having to actually be nice to people and even having to wear what he never thought he would: some new superhero clothes. During the transition, Hancock takes a particular interest in Ray's wife, Mary (Charlize Theron), who has a surprising connection to Hancock that becomes the focus of the film's second half.
While Hancock manages to pass the time behind bars, the city starts to realize that crime has become a bigger problem and it needs Hancock back on the streets again, starting with stopping a bank heist. However, as Hancock finds out more about the past he'd forgotten about due to amnesia, a new set of problems arise.
"Hancock" creates an interesting and unusual take on the superhero genre, but there's a few concerns that do arise, such as the fact that, despite the importance of the Theron character, the character really isn't developed very well and only has a few scenes of significance. The villain of the film (played by Eddie Marsan) is a rather generic "bad guy" - the film doesn't really need a main villain, and the character only appears on a few brief occasions.
The movie tries to cover a few different subplots across the running time of just over 90 minutes, and some aspects of the film feel somewhat shortchanged. The film also feels a little at times as if it was originally intended to be R (and it could have gone further with the concept as an R-rated movie) and then was tailored down for a PG-13 (the edition included on this release is an unrated 102 minute edition, but it still feels PG-13ish to me).
Smith is terrific in the role, quite convincingly finding the heart and soul under the character's tough, irritable exterior. Bateman's also amusing in a supporting role. Theron offers a good effort, but again, there's just not that much to the character - I suppose more may be made of the character in the inevitable sequel, which is certainly hinted at at the end of the film.
"Hancock" does seem moderately unfocused, trying to pack in a little too much in 90 minutes. I wouldn't have minded the film running more towards a full two hours if it meant a richer take on the characters and filling out the story a bit more. Still, I found this different take on the genre generally enjoyable and I'm curious as to what direction the sequel will go.
This edition offers a longer 102-minute unrated cut of the film.
VIDEO: "Hancock" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2.40:1 (1080p/AVC). While not without some minor nitpicks, the big-budget blockbuster has gotten fine treamtent on this Blu-Ray edition. Sharpness and detail are often impressive, as the presentation looked consistently neat and clean, whether out on the streets of Los Angeles or in Hancock's dimly-lit trailer.
While a few slight instances of edge enhancement were spotted, no noise, print flaws or other concerns were seen. Some light grain was occasionally seen, but this seemed to be an intentional element of the cinematography. "Hancock"'s color palette remained bright and warm, appearing well-saturated and bold on this Blu-Ray presentation.
SOUND: "Hancock" is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. While not an all-out audio assault along the lines of some classic action movie sound mixes, "Hancock"'s audio still certainly does have some instances of surround sound fun. The film's occasional action sequences certainly put the rear speakers to use to deliver ambiance and discrete effects, but stretches of the movie remained more dialogue-driven in nature. Audio quality was fine, with dynamic effects, instances of powerful bass and crisp, clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: The featurettes are offered in HD. "Superhumans: The Making of Hancock" is a piece that feels an awful lot like a promotional piece. There's a few decent behind-the-scenes clips, but the interviews are fluff and - aside from some interesting discussion of Michael Mann's initial idea to direct - don't provide too much insight. "Seeing the Future" is more informative, going into a detailed discussion about the extensive use of pre-visualization that was done for the film in order to work out major scenes (some of which are shown here in pre-vis form) in advance. "Building a Better Superhero" is an 8-minute look at FX supervisor John Dykstra's work. "Home Life" takes a look at production design - mainly the building of the house the Bateman/Theron characters live in. "Bumps and Bruises" is a look at stunt work, while "Suiting Up" takes a look at the creation of Hancock's costume.
Finally, we also get trailers for other titles from the studio, a short featurette on director Peter Berg and a picture-in-picture track ("On Set Video Diary"). The title is also BD-Live enabled, as well as D-Box enabled. A second disc includes a digital copy.
Final Thoughts: "Hancock" does seem moderately unfocused, trying to pack in a bit too much into 90 minutes. I wouldn't have minded the film running more towards a full two hours if it meant a richer take on the characters and filling out the story a bit more. Still, I found this different approach to the genre generally enjoyable and I'm curious as to what direction the (likely) sequel will go. The Blu-Ray offers very good audio/video quality, along with a batch of decent supplements. Recommended.
The Film B