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Smith Doesn’t Save ‘Hancock’ From Disappointing

July 3, 2008

By Micheal Compton, The Daily News, Bowling Green, Ky.

Jul. 3–With smash hits like “Independence Day” and “Men in Black,” Will Smith has pretty much staked his claim as the box office king of the Fourth of July.

And while his latest film “Hancock” arrives in theaters just in time to give the popular actor another potential summer smash, not even Smith can save this film from its rather schizophrenic tone.

Is it a comedy? Is “Hancock” an action film? Or is it a drama with a little romance mixed in?

Unfortunately, all of the above apply, making this one of the more disappointing movies of the year.

Smith plays Hancock, an alcoholic superhero who has fallen out of favor with the public after another disastrous rescue attempt.

Then one day Hancock saves the life of a public relations executive named Ray (Jason Bateman). To show his gratitude, Ray offers to help Hancock change his public image — despite the objections of Ray’s wife, Mary (Charlize Theron).

Hancock slowly begins the transformation into a more PC hero, until a secret is revealed that could forever change his existence on earth.

The first half of “Hancock” is a breezy bit of popcorn entertainment, with a dark edge that makes it that much more enjoyable.

Unfortunately, the tone completely changes at the midway point and the film jumps horribly off track. It’s as if screenwriters Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan painted themselves into a corner and couldn’t figure out how to finish the story — so they decided to just drop it and pick up with another plot instead.

The cast is good considering the uneven storyline.

Smith is the perfect choice in the lead, while Bateman proves to be a pretty good straight guy for Hancock’s rather blunt persona. Only Theron feels out of place — especially when the film takes a turn for the worse.

I wanted to like “Hancock,” especially after its rather enjoyable beginning, but ultimately the film is nothing more than a disappointing case of what-could-have-been.

Also in theaters

While “Hancock” is a disappointment, that isn’t the case with Pixar’s latest animated film “WALL-E” (B+), a delightful family film full of wonder and plenty of heart.

Set in the distant future, the movie tells the story of a small waste collecting robot (a Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) who is left to clean the earth after humans abandon the planet.

WALL-E continues to go about his existence until a highly advanced search robot named EVE arrives on the planet and makes friends with the lonely robot.

When EVE is suddenly called back to her ship, WALL-E eagerly follows her into the deepest riches of space — embarking on an adventure that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

“WALL-E” was directed by Andrew Stanton, who was also responsible for “Finding Nemo.” Like he did in that film, Stanton has created a visually impressive world full of excitement and wonder that kids of all ages will love.

Stanton also wrote the screenplay and takes a big gamble by essentially making this a love story between two inanimate objects — but the film is so sweet and endearing, it’s bound to strike a chord with everyone.

The film also gets bonus points for a delightful cameo by Fred Willard as the clueless head of a large cooperation responsible for earth’s demise.

“WALL-E” may be a tough sell to younger children since a lot of the film involves little to no dialogue, but I think it will soon join the ranks of “Nemo,”"Toy Story” and “Ratatouille” as modern-day animated classics.

“WALL-E” is rated G and is now playing at the Great Escape 12, Franklin Drive-In and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Daily News, Bowling Green, Ky.

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