Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Birthday, America


Since seeing a Will Smith movie on the Fourth of July is the obligation of all United States citizens, I went ahead and stepped up on the 3rd.

Hancock.

I'm afraid this is one of those reviews that starts with "the special effects were really good" then has "there were a few good moments here and there" and has a pseudo-intellectual paragraph about how "the idea behind the story was interesting" and that "I wish they'd done more with it." 

The end of the review probably has something else about the special effects, since ending with anything else would be a downer.

Disclaimer: I like to think that I don't like rules and that my own free spirit guides my every action apart from the actions of every other living human and that rules themselves are merely a social convention meant to conceal our true intentions from one another.

While I like to think that, the truth is that every second of every day follows an obsessively complex series of actions and reactions dictated for me at an almost molecular level.

For instance, at lunch on Tuesday a coworker and I tried to find the worst food possible. It is a game we have, like "digestive chicken" almost.

Anyway, we found a "mexican" place called (I promise) "Macarena". That can't be good, right?

And while we were eating, someone walked in the front door and stumbled over the slightly folded doormat. Another person walked in and did the same thing. When the third person came in and tripped and almost fell, I got up in mid-sentence and straightened the rug myself, adjusting an edge under the candy machine and smoothing every tiny ripple into a perfectly flat OSHA-compliant surface.

I didn't even realize I'd done it until I sat back down and my coworker said, "Obsessive much?"

Anyway, about Hancock :

There are rules for superheroing. And I don't mean "don't kill the bad guys" and "no cursing in front of children", because, let's face it, sometimes both the bad guys and the children are totally asking for each kind of treatment. 

Spider-Man was bitten by a radioactive spider. 

Superman is an alien. He gets his powers from the light of our yellow sun. 

The X-Men are mutants. This means that there is no specific "how they got their powers" story since in each case it is an accident of birth. This is solely because Marvel Comics was out of ideas for origin stories having been caught using "an accident with gamma radiation" too many times for comfort.

Hancock eventually gets around to an origin story. They nicely establish ground rules for his powers along the lines of the classic comic ground rules.


1. Spider-Man - Super strength and speed, spider sense. Weaknesses include being a kid and having no money to support superheroing.


2. Superman - Super everything except when he is around a rare mineral from his home planet. A rare extraterrestrial mineral in abundant supply for evil people.


3. X-Men - Each power is unique and the weaknesses include excessive angst and making every freaking thing into a racial allegory. 


4. Hancock - Powers are clearly defined and weaknesses are firmly established - Then immediately cast aside in favor of special effects. 


I think that is what bothered me most. They set the rules and then broke them. But they were their rules. They said it worked like that. It's one thing for a movie to stray from the comic source material, like having Spider-Man meet Mary Jane before Gwen Stacy. Fine. But if they started Spider-Man 2 with a flashback where all of Mary Jane's stuff from the first movie was replaced with Gwen Stacy it would be wrong and then if we were all supposed to forget it happened and let Peter Parker meet Mary Jane in Spider-Man 4: Electric Boogaloo it would feel odd. And screw up the DVD trilogy special edition like crazy.

So there. That is my spoiler-free review of the new Will Smith movie. Maybe it wouldn't bother regular people as much as those of us who seem to be screaming for a prescription. 

Will Smith is good in everything he does. And the special effects were really pretty good.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not that I am one to tell others to 'make some research', but not only is superman vulnerable to the dubious amount of his exploded homeworld that has followed the path of only 1 out of the approximately 41,252.96 square degrees of the exploding planet, but also to magic, which has led to such memorable encounters as Lord Satanis, and the ever peevish Mr. Mxyzptlk.
Happy 4th!

Jane said...

Also don't forget Red Kryptonite, which is less abundant and less powerful.

Like Nick said, MSR.

Anonymous said...

Red Kryptonite is still kryptonite Jane. As are gold, blue, black, white, jewel, anti-kryptonite, x-kryptonite, slow kryptonite, magno-kryptonite, Bizarro Red Kryptonite, Kryptisium, silver, magic, and pink!
Half of those do the same thing, and the other half make him paranoid and hungry.

Garrick said...

And hemp kryptonite gives him dry mouth and makes him crave things which are simultaneously salty and sweet.
Or maybe that is just me.
Anyway, I think kryptonite is more abundant on the DC Earth (pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths) than iron.
Lex Luthor ended up with some bizarre cancer from over-exposure to the stuff, but to be fair the guy was making whole yachts out of it.