Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Review: Hancock

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 7:00 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw the movie Hancock today.

After the movie was given less than stellar reviews, I was very pleasantly surprised by just how good this movie was. It may not be the best movie I see all year long, but I do think it will be one of the best. Certainly, I liked it better than the Incredible Hulk or even Iron Man. Of course, it’s much more than the simple superhero movie that it’s been billed as. Granted, it is a superhero movie, but it’s an original story, not something that’s bogged down with the weight of an entire comic-book universe and history like the Marvel movies are.

So, if you’re not familiar with the movie at all, it stars Will Smith as Hancock, a “superhero” with a drinking problem. And, can you blame him? I mean, as he says himself in the movie, he’s the only one of his kind. Super strong, virtually invulnerable, and he can fly, but people expect him to be a hero and to act accordingly. That has got to get old. So, he drinks. A lot. A whole lot. And he passes out on park benches. And swears. A lot. And, he doesn’t like it when people call him names, because, well, they do, since he’s not really a nice guy. At all.

Except, really, he is. He’s just an alcoholic. With super powers. Not a combination that lends itself to being loved by the public. So, when he saves Jason Bateman’s character from getting run over by a train, he invites Hancock home for dinner. At dinner, Ray Embrey, Bateman’s character, a PR guy trying to change the world, offers to do some work on Hancock’s image for him. Oddly enough, Hancock takes Embrey up on his offer. Hilarity, and drama, ensue.

It’s a brilliant story, really, the redemption of a super hero turns out to be a truly compelling story! Watching his transformation from broken-down drunk to a caring man who finds his soul again is no less compelling for the fact that he’s a super hero and Will Smith really sells the idea. It’s pretty amazing. And, of course, the effects are brilliantly done as well. In fact, so much so that you don’t hardly notice them, which is just how effects should be done.
There are plenty of great lines, too. Bateman plays his role to perfection, always believing in Hancock, even when we begin to doubt him.

Naturally, there are a few twists in this heroic tale, with at least one being provided by Charlize Theron. I have to admit, her mere presence in this film was a surprise to me, so the fact that her role turns out to be pivotal was just icing on the cake.

In short, if you haven’t seen this movie, even if you’re not a fan of super hero films, you owe it to yourself to get out to a theater and see it. Trust me!


Last Year’s Movies

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,News and Current Events,Personal,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

…And the first of this year, in review.

Last Year's Movies

First, there was the Simpson’s Movie. That was part of the Saddest Bachelor Party ever. Half of us didn’t drink, half of us were gay, and I wasn’t quite done with chemotherapy treatments. No alcohol, no strippers, and I looked like a walking corpse. Hell, I felt like a walking corpse.
I’ve never been a huge Simpsons fan, to be honest, though I love Futurama. We went at the request of the groom, J. I bought dinner at my new, favorite Thai restaurant and I bought J.’s ticket. The movie was hilarious. Everything that was ever good about the Simpsons crammed into one movie. At one point, Homer is trying to catch up to his family and save Springfield. He’s using a dog-sled to do so and driving the dogs hard. They run away in the night and Homer whines “Why does everything I whip run away?” I verbally sympathized. We missed the next five minutes of the film while we laughed. But, really, if you missed this one, rent it. It was good, even if you’re not a fan.

Next was Dragon Wars. This was a Korean import staring mainly unknown American actors, or B-movie actors that should have retired years ago. The best thing I can say about it is…
“Dragons! With rocket launchers on their shoulders!” It was our catch phrase for the evening. Don’t bother even renting this one unless you want to reenact Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Then, I went to see American Gangster with J. and L. just after Thanksgiving.
This was very, very good. It was so hyper-real that it was almost unbelievable. But, it’s pretty well all true. This is the story of the Black Mafia in Harlem in the Sixties and Seventies. It’s all about gangs, criminals, heroin, and the mob. Again, very real, very violent and very good. Another one to rent if you missed it in the theater.

After that, though, we started picking up speed.
Midway through December, I saw the disappointment of the year, the Golden Compass. After the massive build-up and comparisons to C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia, I had high expectations for this film. I was betrayed.
The entire movie was rushed and it felt like huge sections of plot had been left out leaving indecipherable gaps. The only thing that saved me, frankly, was having talked to a friend who read the books about the premise of the first book, on which this movie was based. The CG was very good, but not good enough to distract me from the butchered plot and lack of real sparkle in the film despite some brilliant actors. To say that it was a huge disappointment is, at best, an understatement. If you haven’t seen it, but feel compelled, I’d wait to rent it.

On Christmas Day, I went with my mysterious artist friend, for whom I’m doing some creative work, to see No Country for Old Men. If you haven’t seen this yet, skip work this afternoon and go see it. Yes, it is that good. I hope to see it again while it’s still in the theaters and I almost never see a movie more than once in the theater. That is how good I think this movie is.
First of all, it stars two of my favorite actors, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin. Yes, Josh Brolin, son of James Brolin and husband of Diane Lane. Very, very under-rated actor, in my opinion. Also, I didn’t realize that this was a Coen Brothers’ movie until I was there with Mark. So, by the time I sat down in the theater, I had pretty high expectations. They were exceeded.
Now, true to their form, this is a violent film. And, a very realistically violent film. I’ve seen a lot of wounds, on myself and others, fresh and not quite so, and the effects in this film are very, very good and the most realistic I’ve seen outside of… Well, actually, they’re the best I’ve seen anywhere. Period. So, if you have a weak stomach, don’t plan on eating Italian after seeing this one. However, if you’re up for a bit of the old ultraviolence, then this movie is for you.
The story follows Brolin’s character, who finds a drug deal gone very wrong in the Texas scrub while hunting. He hunts around until he finds the money from the deal and takes it. The rest of the movie is about the consequences of that decision and that act. Brilliant work.
If you see no other movie in the next twelve months, see No Country for Old Men.

Now, to wrap things up, I started my year with I Am Legend.
The weakest thing about this movie was the CG. Based on a book, which I’m currently reading, by Richard Matheson, this is the story of biology gone wrong. Will Smith plays an Army doctor who is the only survivor in New York City after a plague sweeps the world. The plague, which is the side-effect of a reengineered virus meant to cure cancer, kills most people and transforms the rest into Dark Seekers, zombie-vampire-like creatures that feast on living flesh and hide from the day-light. A classic monster movie. From what I’ve read so far, the movie is only vaguely similar to the book. In fact, it’s more like the Charlton Heston version of this movie, The Omega Man. (Apparently, this was also a remake of an even earlier version of the story staring Vincent Price called The Last Man On Earth, but I haven’t seen this version. Yet.)
As far as the movie goes, it’s worth seeing. I won’t spoil anything, but it does end on an up-beat. I do recommend that you see this with a friend, though, not alone like I did. At least, not if you’re feeling depressed or lonely. This is a very, very lonely film and Smith gets that feeling of hopelessness and futility across to the audience very well. If they’d spent just a little more on the CG, this would have been a truly great film. As it is, if not for Will Smith’s fame, I doubt it would have done well.
Of course, I might have enjoyed the film more if not for two of my fellow audience members that intruded on the experience. The first was an older gentleman that kept asking his much younger companion, daughter I assume, what was happening. When he asked where all the people were in the opening scene, I almost asked him if he knew what movie he’d come to see. The next time he asked a similar question, I had to bite my tongue to keep from snapping back at him that if he’d just shut up and watch the movie, the plot might answer his damn question! The other audience disturbance was the non-English-speaking family that brought a toddler into the movie 3/4 of the way through. You know, right before the horde of monsters stormed the hero’s stronghold. Perfect timing to scar the kid for life.
Other than that, though, it was an enjoyable experience.

So, here’s to the new year and many great movies to be seen!

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