Hancock: Will Smith Does for Superheros What Billy Bob Thornton Did For Santa Claus

May 14, 2008

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As the comic book invasion of cinema goes into its 8th year, onething is clear: being a Superhero is big business. The problem is, howmany times can we see a hero fly around save the world and get the girl?

Will Smith's new movie, Hancock, seems to have an answer. The Superhero is a jerk.

It's a novel concept, and in honor of it Spike.com is breaking downthe theatrical trailer to provide insight into how Columbia Pictures islooking to pull this off, by breaking down the trailer to this muchanticipated movie.

The logline or summary of Hancock is: What if a regular guy hadsuperpowers? A guy who just wanted to have some drinks, get someoccasional lady action, relax and not be burdened by all theresponsibility of being the perfect crime fighter?

Let’s take a closer look at the latest trailer so we can discover this movie’s truth.

0:05 – 0:14

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Flashes of guns firing, cars racing, crashing and flipping while a police officer radios:“Suspect are northbound on 110. Heavy gunfire exchanged. We need backup.”

0:15 – 0:17

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Maybe the best Superhero introduction ever!

Flying through the air, cops in cars and helicopters behind – andhe’s drinking straight out the bottle dressed like he just woke upafter a Frat Boy Kegger.

It’s safe to say, this fulfills one of the major reasons we all goto the movies – to see something we’ve never seen on the big screenbefore.

Drunken Superhero? Definitely a first! I don’t know about you, but I’m intrigued.

Where is this gonna go from here? And, most importantly, do thefilmmakers have the balls to explore the potential promise of such anawesome set up?

0:17 – 0:18

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So far, so good: Hancock becomes cinema’s first Superhero to fly under the influence. As a result, he destroys a highway sign.

0:19 – 0:34

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Hancock lands in the back of the fugitive’s SUV and, still in themidst of a morning hangover, kindly asks, “Fellas, listen. Giveyourselves up…quietly.”

They respond by trying to kill him, but only end up shattering his bottle of booze, which, pisses him off.

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He stops the SUV Fred Flintstone-style and skewers it on the CapitolRecords building. It’s great because Hancock is pissed these guys brokehis bottle, he doesn’t care about bringing them into the local policestation. And, he doesn’t care how that SUV is gonna get taken down.

This guy just doesn’t give a f*#k.

0:35 – 0:42

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There’s backlash to his actions during a stop-the-runaway-trainsequence. A news reporters voice over informs us: “Hancock’s latest actof so called heroics has once again enraged city officials.”

But, the good stuff is here, when the average Joe Citizen who, inmovies like Superman, Spiderman and Batman, would be there to clap andcheer, here, instead is taunting, complaining and criticizing him forcausing a sh*tload of destruction and a major traffic jam.

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One woman angrily points, “I can smell that liquor on your breath.”To which Hancock proudly responds.“Cause I’ve been drinkin’!”Hilarious, true, realistic and ballsy, I’m starting to love this movie.

0:43 – 1:03

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Just when you think the filmmakers are going to hit the brakes abit, slowing things down or play it a little more safe, comes the nextsequence.

First, Hancock, lands on the street and creates a huge pot hole,either because he doesn’t know how to land or he’s just too hammered tohave accurate depth-perception.

Whatever the reason, the result is chuckles.

Then, every Superhero’s ultimate supporter – the little kid – rips into him! By calling him a, “Jackass.”

But, remember, Hancock isn’t a Clark Kent/Peter Parker Mr. Nice Guy.He’s got attitude and not a lot of self control, so, as if here were 10years old on a grade school playground, he steps up, leans in withbloodshot eyes and challenges the kid, “Call me a jackass one moretime.”

“Jackass.”

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BOOM!

Hancock HURLS THE KID 2,000 FEET INTO THE AIR!

HOLY F’N SH*T!

Calling to reserve my tickets now, I’m sold on this movie. I’mlaughing more during a 3-minute preview than I did during 2 hours ofmost comedies last year.

Then he threatens the other kids, “How about you Thickness…Goggles?” And sh*tting their pants, shake their heads, “No.”

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Then as Jason Bateman, a PR Agent named Ray, Hancock has hired tochange his public image, greets him, “Hancock, you son of a gun, I’dknew you’d come.” Hancock is looking towards the sky, keeping track ofthe kids trajectory as he heads back to earth.

Hancock catches the kid, sets him down and the kid walks away crying to which Hancock responds, “Stop crying punk ass.”

What other Superhero would say that? Or, would be able to get away with saying that? And, is that really Will Smith?

The comedic timing here is great as Jason Batemam, stayingprofessional, and using the timing he mastered on Arrested Developmentadvises, “Not okay.”

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1:04 – 1:33

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Ray, strategies with Hancock about getting the public to love him,“People don’t like you Hancock.” To which he stares back, “Do I looklike I care what people think?”

Charlize Theron, yes, she’s in this, playing Ray’s girlfriend/wife,Mary, is a bit cynical on Hancock, “I think you’re wasting your timewith this guy.”

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Then, the preview delivers another holy sh*t funny moment.

Ray, shows Hancock some viral video internet footage of one of his previous public relations missteps.

“Pulled some stuff up on YouTube. Everybody remembers Walter the gray whale, he was stuck on the beach. Along comes Hancock…”

There’s a beached whale, people are rushing to pour water him,keeping him alive, when Hancock crashes from the sky, doesn’t ask anyquestions, just grabs Walter and LAUCHES him into the ocean….and endsup bowling a strike as Walter CRASHES INTO A BOAT!

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“I don’t even remember that.”

“Greenpeace does.”

The dialog is sharp, funny and subtle. This is a superhero spoofwithout the over the top Leslie Nielsen reactions or thescene-for-scene parody of the Scary Movie Franchise. It’s more LastAction Hero and less Hot Shots:Part Deux.

The image of the Whale launched into the air, the camera arching itstrajectory and the visual punch line of the moment, Walter crashes intoa boat in the distance, is genius.

Ray continues:“You’re a Superhero for God sakes, people should love you.”

Hancock responds:“How we gonna do that Ray?”

“Right now there’s a D.A. trying to figure out how to come up hereand put you in jail. I say you go. People take you for granted, youknow? We gotta make people miss you.”

“Hmm?”

Mary doubts it:

“He’s not gonna go.”

1:34 – 1:45

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Hancock goes to jail and continues to erase any doubts that thisstory is eventually going to pus*y out and go back to Nice Guy WillSmith Land.

In Jail, he runs into a few tough guys. He gives them a warning, “If you don’t move, your head is going up his…”

Did Will Smith just say that? And are they going to show it? Is this movie fearless or what?

Here, the scene goes dark and we HEAR the effect of the action. Thenit cuts to the reaction of Hancock’s fellow inmates. No doubt oneinmate has his head up another inmates ass.

Can we just stop this analysis right now? Does anyone need anymore proof that this is worthy of big screen viewing?

This preview alone is more entertaining that half of the movies released this year.

Okay, just to see what else is in store, let’s keep going.

1:46 – 2:13

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Ray’s PR plan is working. The media is covering Hancock’s jail stayand reporting how the city has changed since he’s not around, “Jailwatch day 5 and crime is still on the rise.”

As a result, everyone, especially the authorities realize just how much they need a Superhero.

“You got a phone call, it’s the chief of police. He says he needs your help.”

And, the self-destructive behavior Hancock has been displaying is also explored in a heart to heart talk with Ray.

“You have a calling. You’re a hero Hancock. You’re gonna be miserable the rest of your life until you accept that.”

Hancock is then set free and issues a statement about his new view on life and himself.

“Life here can be difficult for me. After all, I’m the only one of my kind. You deserve better from me. I will be better.”

Of course, Ray, thinking in terms of marketing, gets Hancock a new outfit, which he isn’t too crazy about.

“I ain’t wearing that.”

2:14 – 2:40

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Hancock puts the outfit on and is off to his first post-jail/ PR makeover assignment: What looks to be a bank robbery.

There’s a nice funny moment the first time police officers see hisnew look. As they just stare at him, Will Smith pulls out some FreshPrince of Bel Air comedic timing as he tries to play off thesemi-ridiculousness of his new look, “What?…It’s a little tight.”

Then back to business, “What you got?”

He goes off to stop the thieves as he’s told, “Hancock, I need you to end this!”

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And there’s always room for comedy in the middle of action. As he’sabout to rescue a police officer trapped by enemy fire, he asks, “Do Ihave permission to touch your body?” Something the old Hancock wouldnever do.

She screams in a panic, “Yes!”

But he wants to be sure he’s not harassing or offending hersimultaneously, “It’s not sexual. Not that you’re not an attractivewoman…maybe on a different day –“

Annoyed she screams, “Get me out of here!”

So he does, by picking her up and a the police car, using it as a shield.

This is great. It’s funny, action packed and original.

2:41 – 3:02

After thepost-character-change-first-bad-guy-battle-to-show-he’s-changed-as-a-character,the story gets back on track to what every superhero movie needs – avillain.

Thus far there hasn’t been an indication that Hancock has a nemesis, other than his out of control self.

What happens here is the last 20 seconds of the preview is interesting.

Let’s reorganize the footage a little, because it’s out of order.

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First, what sounds like a major twist occurs when Ray is seentalking to someone off screen saying, “That’s it? Make it look hard.”

Is he against Hancock? Is he working with Hancock’s enemy?

Then, a bigger surprise: Mary appears to have superpowers; she’s against Hancock.

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If we look here, we can see him fighting with someone with blondhair, who seems stronger than him. As is indicated by reportercommentary, “Hancock is down. He looks hurt.”

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It looks like she has the power to create tornados. The two evenengage in a Matrix Revolutions-like Neo-Agent Smith battle where theycollide creating a sonic boom bubble.

Of course, every Superhero movie needs a moment when the hero lookslike he’s going to loose and of course he’ll recover, get back on hisfeet and find a way to win. That’s not the surprise here.

In Hancock, what’s new, fresh and entertaining is an original presentation of a not so super Superhero.

In a lot of ways, you can imagine this role was written for BillyBob Thornton, who, 5 years ago, transformed the iconic image of Santaand his own Hollywood image into that of a drunken, foul-mouthed badboy.

And, had he been cast, this movie would have seemed like just another Billy Bob swearfest.

The key here is Will Smith, because much like Hancock, he has an image problem.

According to his critics he’s too PG, too nice, too 1950’s. Which is where the Superhero genre is stuck as well.

Both have been seen as clean cut, polite and all American Nice Guys.So, you can imagine that just like Hancock, his agent told him that heneeded an image makeover and that this movie was the one to do it.

The key here will be the ending. Because, just like in Bad Santa, nomatter how horrible the character, we are always waiting for thatredeeming moment: That scene where Billy Bob’s character shows a sparkof change, a little decency. And thankfully, there wasn’t.

Hopefully, here. director Peter Berg, who isn’t afraid to take theaudience and main characters into uncomfortable places (Very BadThings) will give us a middle ground for Will Smith and Hancock.

Give Hancock a little change. Let him learn some lessons, but don’tlose what’s made him so interesting for 90% of the movie. He’s a jerk;a big entertaining, genre challenging A-hole.

It’s risky, it’s hard to find. Now that it’s here, let’s not loseit. Will Smith needs to take the advice Vince Vaughn gave Iron Mandirector John Favreau in Swingers, “Be the rated R guy.”

Broken down by The Movie Preview Critic.

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