Tuesday, November 25, 2008

TODAY ON DVD

It's funny that one of the most underrated films of the year happened to gross over $600 million at the worldwide box-office. Unfairly smacked down by critics (it only managed a 38% at Rottentomatoes though it had its share of notable admirers, including Ebert, Denby, Dargis, and Travers), Peter Berg's wise-ass superhero action-comedy HANCOCK opened huge at the domestic box office over the Fourth of July weekend last summer, due in no small part to star Will Smith's continued box-office fire-power. The film wasn't perfect, but as I said a few months ago, it was just the kick in the ass that this getting-tired genre needed. I am really looking forward to checking out the unrated director's cut of the film, which hits stores today. There's roughly 10 minutes of new, supposedly racier footage (the film was initially given an R-rating which the filmmakers cut down to a more audience friendly PG-13) and a plethora of behind-the-scenes features. Sadly, no commentary is listed, which is a shame and a surprise considering Berg has done great commentary tracks on his other recent films, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and THE KINGDOM, both of which are terrific. What HANCOCK managed to do was toy with the conventions of the superhero movie while still honoring what makes these types of entertainments the films that they are. The tone of HANCOCK swings back and forth between serious and funny, action and comedy, drama and cartoon. Berg's continued fascination with edgy, hand-held camerawork brought a distinct visual texture to a genre which has gotten increasingly slicker and more polished. In the near future, I will try and post a full length review as I only posted a brief write-up this past summer. If you missed HANCOCK in the theaters, make sure you check it out on DVD. It's a blast and very different from your average superhero blow 'em up.

8 comments:

Joel said...

(The following is my opinion, so don't get mad or anything :P )

Sorry...no. I had a blast for half of it, then it flailed at the midpoint. The final thirty minutes were awful.

Definitely my most overhyped movie of the year, along with "Jumper" and "Quantam of Solace."

Actionman said...

Really? Sorry to hear that you were let down by the last act. That's precisely when I started to really love the film. It was startling to see something so different in this type of movie after getting so many superhero entries where everyting feels so routine and predictable.

Joel said...

I've read the original script, which was DEFINITELY R-rated. It was much better than the final product. It was about 140 pages and near-brilliant. I felt that the film skipped about thirty or so minutes. I think that the right decision to make has been considered: Get the team back together and shoot the REAL script.

I did like Will Smith. It's one of his strongest roles, and he's brilliant in the role, even as the film flopped around (sorry if that's harsh, but that's what I felt). I think that if the film followed the tone and style of the first half, it could have been a modern classic--no, really. The themes are surprisingly resonant, the humor is biting as you said, and the IDEA of the final act was innovative and fresh. The problem then, for me, was the execution. 93 minutes is too short, so as I was really looking forward to it, once I heard the running time, I sort of went, "Umm...now I'm skeptical."

Definitely, original, but in a bad way--at least, the execution was. Just a missed opportunity.

Actionman said...

I too read a draft of the script. But the problem with this project is that it had a shit-load of rewrites during it's over 10 year gestation period in development hell. Tony Scott was once attached to direct, which is how I got my hands on the script (I worked for him for a few months). Mann was even going to direct before he settled on a producing role. The list goes on and on: Gabriele Muccino, Jonathan Mostow, and Ron Howard all took cracks at the material at one time or another.

The script that I read felt R-rated so I am hoping that some of the naughtier bits end up on the director's cut DVD.

I agree with you that it felt rushed and a bit truncated. But it was still coherent, and the idea that they'd skip out on creating the typical "super-villain" to fight Hancock at the end in favor of exploring his backstory was the main reason I liked it so much. It just did things differently.

I also love the visual style of the film; I am a huge Peter Berg fan.

Joel said...

Oh, I definitely love the gritty feel of the project. Berg's a good director for this material. I just think the film fell victim to all the rewrites. Had a great marketing strategy unworthy of the film.

DrG said...

I can't think of anything to say.

FallenDVDs said...

Nope, still nothing.

Actionman said...

Well...thanks for...nothing...