If Memorial Day is the start of the summer blockbuster movie season, then the Fourth of July is The Biggie. And what could be better than a Will Smith blockbuster?
(1) Will Smith cheerfully uttered the above quote in an interview a couple of years ago. With four huge Fourth of July #1 openings -- Independence Day, Men in Black I/II and even The Wild, Wild West -- who can blame him for saying that? And why haven't the money people in Hollywood managed to give us Will Smith Day in a while? (grin)
(2) A whole lotta early reviews of Hancock complained bitterly that it was incoherent and practically two movies, with the second one Really Bad.
Monday Mrs. Dr. Phil and I both had off, so after taking the cats in the morning to their annual checkup and shots, and with (1) and (2) in mind, we went off with some trepidation to...
Studio 28 Theatre #1, 1:15pm, $6.50
It's been a while since we've been in the big Theatre #1 and on a Monday after a holiday weekend, we had our pick of the best seats -- and with hot dogs and popcorn in hand, we lunched and munched our way through the promos and trailers. God I hate seeing TV ads in a movie theatre.
Hancock manages to, while still tongue-in-cheek, answer some of the age old questions I've always had about superhero characters. With such power, isn't there a helluva lot of collateral damage to the poor city? And would you want to live in a city with one or more active superheroes? YES and NO, respectively. (grin) Will Smith's Hancock is a bum and a drunk and just plain mean. And yet... he's not only compelled to do good, but he always seems to give the bad guys a way out before he gets vindictive on them. You'd think in a town, L.A., already torn up by the man, where all the bad guys know who he is, that they'd capitulate right then and there. Doesn't matter that he's drunk, he's a superhero. What did they think was going to happen if they tried to shoot him, beat him, out run him?
Oh, right. They're bad guys -- they're idiots.
You have to follow the Law of Selectively Applied Physics in superhero movies. Some do it better than others. I liked Christopher Reeve's Superman, but I never believed that "a man can fly" -- it always looked fake to me. Hancock, though, dents the pavement when he takes off and crashes into the pavement when he lands. "The difference between me and you, is that I make it look good when I land." (grin) You yank the tail of a beached whale with enough force to lob it far offshore in a ballistic arc and you're just going to rip the tail fluke off. Except in the movies where you provide a humorous scene and make it look good -- Physics be damned. On the other hand, you rescue people from a burning building and your clothes are going to get burned off. Why, what did you think would happen? (snicker)
And the movie suffers from the Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex phenomenon. If you really threw someone high up in the air, the acceleration upward would kill them and catching them moving at high speed so they don't crash into the ground would merely result in "goo on your arms". (ew-www!)
The shot where Hancock stops a train dead in its tracks was widely shown in all the promos and TV ads. A moving train has one helluva lot of momentum and kinetic energy -- it doesn't want to stop that easily. And yet, in the context of the movie, you can go with it. You can have Willing Suspension of Disbelief without pegging the Hooey Meter. (double-grin) But here's what happens in an expensive Will Smith movie that you don't see in other movies: Hancock stopped the locomotive, but a train is a long series of cars coupled together and they have their own momentum and K.E. While the first car or two might just jam against the locomotive and stop, too, the rest are going to relentlessly keep coming on and derailing and piling up and getting diverted sideways and taking shit out for many, many seconds afterwards.
In a lesser movie, this railroad carnage would be The Big Set Piece, shot from multiple angles and slow motion, sort of like the train wreck that Harrison Ford just manages to get clear from in The Fugitive. Here, all this takes place in the background -- hazy and out of focus. "Uh-oh, this is going to be expensive." This is brilliant.
One of the few positive reviews I read in the blogosphere before we went pointed out that unlike this summer's other big budget superhero movies, Iron Man and The Hulk, both of which we saw back-to-back and I've gotta get around to reviewing, Hancock doesn't have to battle a larger, more powerful version of himself. True. And I guess the other movies do it in order to show that heart matters, too. Somewhat literally in the case of Tony Stark's Iron Man. (grin) On the other hand, it doesn't mean that Hancock doesn't have to battle someone similar.
Okay, this one is pretty obvious. Hancock says he is the only one of his kind. He has no memory of where he came from. Somewhere there just has to be someone who is like Hancock but who has their memory. Friend or foe, it will provide more conflict, and right at the most inopportune time.
Not all is roses in this movie. The dweeb Hancock saves from death by train is a P.R. guy who has been unsuccessfully flogging a really lame P.R. campaign. Dweeb takes it upon himself to rehabilitate Hancock's image -- and by making him take responsibility by going to jail, perhaps rehabilitate Hancock himself. The prison scenes have some pathos, but the P.R. crap? It's crap.
And forgive us, but we must've missed a HUGE note that a great deal of TIME passed or else they had one helluva continuity problem regarding the one-armed man. Glaring, but not a movie killer.
In the end Mrs. Dr. Phil and I were both in agreement that this was a pretty damned good fun summer movie -- yes, we lower the bar intentionally, but we liked the movie despite itself and we're sticking to our story.
Satisfactory / Recommended
TRAILERS: Most of the movie trailers were forgettable. But Hell Boy II sure looks fun. And there's a "tag you're it" spy/crime movie which could be fun. And how can we resist Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan in Momma Mia? And a new James Bond flick where M starts off by divorcing Bond from the British Secret Service? That one is supposed to open November 7th. Cool.