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In this highly superheroic summer of Iron Man and the forthcoming The Dark Knight, Hancock can offer only an A-list headliner in a D-list project.
J. R. Jones,
As popcorn movies go, this is fleet, funny, and even thoughtful: its central question, nicely underplayed by director Peter Berg, is why power and altruism never seem to intersect.
Since The Pursuit of Happyness, actor-producer Smith has made no secret of his desire to make movies that entertain in that big-studio way but also dig deeper. Hancock is a rousing measure of that intent.
The final third seems all shot in a strange blue light that makes even the gorgeous Theron look consumptive, and is, in a nutshell, no fun at all. Aren't Fourth of July movies supposed to be fun? No fireworks this time, Will.
It's worth it just to see a ready-made Superman-sized superhero in action without all the baggage of decades of retellings and reworkings; even looking at familiar faces working through a familiar genre, it's nice to be surprised for once.
What does one say about a movie that wants laughs from a shot of one inmate's head up the derriere of another?
Los Angeles Times:
It's a strange feeling to see the summer's most promising premise self-destruct into something bizarre and unsatisfying, but that is the Hancock experience.
Credit must be paid to director Peter Berg for pulling off such a tricky balance of such diverse elements while delivering an impressive and affecting superhero adventure with as much heart and soul as sound and fury.
Train wrecks are intrinsically spectacular, and Will Smith's new movie offers a doozy. Two of them, in fact.
Hancock is the sort of Fourth of July cinematic fireworks celebration Hollywood dreams about but rarely achieves.
Hancock the jaunty, jokey riff on the screwed-up inner emotional life of a traditionally ironclad superhero becomes Hancock the icky lesson in the importance of personal responsibility, loyalty, and continued family togetherness.
Globe and Mail:
The promise is dangled yet never developed. Rather, the narrative slips into a backstory that alternates between confusing and contradictory.
Dallas Morning News:
Part of the joke lies in seeing a megawatt star embrace his inner grouch with fantastical blunders, and part of the anticipation lies in seeing Hancock become, well, Will Smith.
The dynamic between the sullen Smith and sincere Bateman may be the best thing in the Peter Berg's movie, but it's a tough call because the whole popcorn fest is flat-out fantastic.
A peculiar and occasionally charming poke in the ribs of the superman myth.
Director Peter Berg knows the difference between cartoon violence and the real stuff, and Hancock mixes both to good effect.
The superhero genre screams for a makeover, or at least a smart deconstruction, but Hancock isn't that movie. It just ups the foolishness ante.
Hancock suggests new visual directions and emotional tonalities for pop. It's by far the most enjoyable big movie of the summer.
New York Daily News:
There's a great idea here, but it's buried within a muddled story that lurches between dark comedy and maudlin drama.
New York Post:
Leaving behind the laughs for schmaltz, Hancock chickens out at the last minute, lurching toward a cop-out happy ending that gives every indication of having been reshot at the behest of test audiences. Well, at least you won't be bored.
Passable if profane, Hancock chugs along right up to that when this comic superhero engine goes off the tracks, and pretty much off a cliff.
Thanks to Smith, it's a story about movie stars -- and why the multiplex-going humankind needs to have them kicking around, too.
Hancock is a hodgepodge of intriguing ideas that, if developed further or presented as more than throw-ins to a confused production, might have made for a unique superhero film.
It's the sort of role Smith ought to be able to pull off easily. But even his superpowers apparently have their limits.
San Francisco Chronicle:
As delivered by director Peter Berg, Hancock is never as serious or funny or poignant as it could be. And despite clocking in at a reasonable running time, it has a big sag in the middle that nothing could have fixed.
As soon as the hero becomes another wounded demigod brooding on rooftops, the movie loses its sting.
Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Almost any moviegoer should be able to find something to enjoy, but it's hard to imagine anyone liking this mishmash from beginning to end.
Hancock is still worth seeing, if only for a glimpse of what might have been a truly innovative idea.
Smith's pictures deliver familiar pleasures; they work with efficiency but not inspiration, honoring the time-honored movie platitudes that will neither shock nor stretch an audience.
What starts out with a sense of quirky fun loses direction and devolves into a mishmash of story lines.
This misguided attempt to wring a novel twist on the superhero genre has a certain whiff of The Last Action Hero about it.
It doesn't take itself as seriously as it should, and undercuts a final act that should have and so could have packed a mighty emotional wallop.
The problem is that director Peter Berg, aided and abetted by Smith and Theron and third banana Jason Bateman, seem to have made it literally, not realizing its out-of-whack tonalities and grotesque plot twists were meant to be played for laughs.