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Hancock July 5, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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I was conflicted before watching Hancock. Who wouldn’t want to watch the undeniably charismatic Will Smith playing a superhero (you even wonder why it didn’t happen earlier). However, the talk of reshoots followed by the lack of enthusiasm from critics brought down my interest level in the film. The makers maintained that the film did something very different with the superhero genre and I wasn’t so sure. So, I went in with lowered expectations. After watching the film, I can say that the makers weren’t fibbing.

Smith plays a superhero with a bad attitude and inept interpersonal skills. He helps people like all superheroes must but he has a drinking problem and a penchant for destroying public property. One day, the unpopular hero saves a publicist who wants to better the world. He sees the good in Hancock and tries to improve his image.

What I like about this film is that it feels unlike the comic book superhero movies that we have seen (and liked) in the past. It is not about a lovable superhero. It is not about saving the world. It is not heavy on action. It doesn’t even feel like it is set in a fantasy world. It is really a film that has humor, drama and some surprises.

Screenwriters Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan are aiming to bridge genres but the attempt isn’t perfect. Director Peter Berg (The Kingdom, The Rundown) renders a film that feels a bit disjointed (I will keep away from discussing some of the flaws to avoid spoilers). The film could have been better but it does entertain and I’d say it was worth the price of admission.

One of the primary reasons that it works is Will Smith. Smith is the perfect choice for this role because he is one of the few actors that can pull off a film in any genre. Though the film doesn’t allow you to love him all that much, he still is Will Smith and you can’t get enough of him. Charlize Theron (Monster, The Italian Job) and Jason Bateman (Juno, Arrested Development) are well cast and they manage to impress as well.

This film is a decent summer diversion but expectations can mar your experience. Just don’t think of it as a superhero movie. Think of it as a non-serious partly-dramatic entertainer headlined by Will Smith and you might enjoy it like I did.

I Am Legend December 19, 2007

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
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This one shouldn’t come across as a surprise if you have seen post-apocalyptic dystopian movies like 28 Days Later (that’s the only one I remember seeing). A deadly virus infects people turning them into living zombie like creatures and Will Smith is the last “uninfected” man alive on earth because he somehow happens to be immune to the virus. In a desloated New York he lives on with the hope of finding a cure to the virus and also constantly on the lookout for any survivors.

In hindsight this is mostly an uneventful movie but what works to great effect is the tense and (often spooky) atmosphere which always keeps the viewer waiting in anticipation of something to happen. Limited use of sounds in the background also works its part. The entire sequence which leads to the first appearance of the “infected” is the best of the lot. But the movie falters somewhat towards the end for want of a better (or rather less-cliched) denouement.

Smith is the perfect choice for the protagonist. This is a role where there is pretty much a single character on screen for the whole duration and as such demands someone with a charismatic screen presence than anything else. Of course, one cannot forget the great CGI work in getting the whole desolated New York look.

Fans of this genre might probably see this as just a more mainstream version of the whole concept with an A-list actor (who really did ensure a surprise blockbuster opening) but I had quite a bit of fun watching this.