I have been drunk, fallen asleep on top of a sheet of paper and dribbled things that were more artistically pleasing. They could have recorded the farts of a thousand teenage boys, rendered them into morse code and transcribed the results and come up with a more coherent script. I have trodden in things with more artistic integrity.
I am referring to the movie Hancock, which I went into with few expectations, which is just as well because everyone involved should be locked in stocks in the middle of Trafalgar Square and deluged with elephant widdle until their hair melts.
What an offensively stupid move it is. I don't ask much of superhero movies. I know they're basically made for 15-year-old boys and people who buy too many video games so when we get a good one, it's a supreme pleasure. X-Men, Spider-Man and even Iron Man proved it's possible to believe your audience is intelligent enough to applaud subtlety. Often they even manage not to be hideously sexist.
If you've been to the cinema in the past three months, you will know the basic outline of the plot. John Hancock is superhero who is drunken, extravagantly rude, enjoys groping random women on the street and is spectacularly careless of property. He fights crime in LA, but LA is sick of all the damage he causes and the police want to arrest him. One day he saves the life of an idealistic marketing man, who invites him to dinner at his house, and offers to make his life easier by "rebranding" him as a clean, polite superhero, loved by everyone. And up to that point, it's actually reasonably amiable viewing. The trouble is that this is the first 20 minutes of the film.
Already, the direction is ostentatiously irritating, with lots of nausea-inducing handheld camera shots that make it difficult to see what is going on. Indeed, Peter Berg, who made the excellent Friday Night Lights, has here adopted the aesthetic of the cocaine-drenched late 80s music video maker, with smoke and rain and out of focus extreme close-ups that fairly scream I AM INVENTING A NEW SUPERHERO MOVIE VERNACULAR! OBSERVE MY EDGINESS! MORE BULLETS! MORE SMOKE! MORE RAIN! MORE VIEWS UP WILL SMITH'S LEFT NOSTRIL!
Oh, Billy Kronk, no.
From hereonin, there will be spoilers, though I am mighty tempted to leave the damned thing uncut in the interests of having as few people as possible waste two hours of their lives.
There are signs of idiocy fairly early on, when Jason Bateman's PR executive, Ray, is trying to save the world by asking drugs companies to give away their medicines in return for the right to display a little red heart on their packaging. After all, all those marketing people are changing the world through their rebranding and so on, and are in no way about as useful to humanity as telephone sanitisers, management consultants, whichever fool invented deeley boppers and other wastes of DNA. His scheme is so stupid you have to wonder who is paying the poor sap that he can afford such a nice house.
He persuades Hancock to do some time in jail to show the city what they're missing, which leads to a literal "I'll shove your head up his arse" moment, which will be loved by teenage boys everywhere. There's some "prison humour" and referring to superheroes with costumes as "homos" (oh, how I chortled) but it's actually got a low-key charm when it's not being idiotic.
The real VWORP! VWORP! of the Utter Toss Detector really begins to sound when we return to Ray's gaff and meet his Omri-Katz-in-Dallas-like son, who has the kind of pudding bowl haircut that would be classed as child abuse anywhere outside of the entertainment business. Ray's wife -- tellingly, I can't actually remember what she was called -- is played by Charlize Theron, who looks like she was mainlining mogadon in her trailer in order to get through the movie. She is suspicious of Hancock in a way which sends up very unsubtle red flags.
Hancock doesn't know his past: he was assaulted and left for dead in a Miami hospital in 1931 after going to see Frankenstein. He woke up indestructible he thinks, but no one ever came to claim him. Hence his 80-year reign of assholery and reluctant superheroery.
I shan't sport with your intelligence by going through the machinations of the plot, but what you need to know is that Charlize Theron and Will Smith are in fact angels sent down to protect the human race with their powers of indestructibility. They are sent down in pairs, and Charlize and Will are the last two in all the world. They lurve each other and are spouses but if they spend too long in the same place, they lose their invulnerability and can be killed.
Now, just how STUPID would God have to be to create saviours of the world that are pair-bonded but can't actually spend any time in each other's company without losing their abilities?
But that's not even the most egregiously fucking twerpish thing in the script. No. Just when you think you have reached the absolute sulphurous depths of the pit of UTTER FAIL we are in here, we roll off the ledge and find there's further to fall.
You see, Charlize is clearly as powerful as Will. She whacks him with a fuck-off big truck, for Pete's sake. She can fly. She says she's stronger than him. But you see, she's a GIRL and GIRLS don't want to tell their pair-bonded partner where he comes from even though he's clearly in trouble. GIRLS don't want to save the world. GIRLS want to stay in and play wifey to an admittedly nice PR executive and attend to his nauseating lisping offspring, and make meatballs for Spaghetti Madness night.
I mean, Jesus, when the boy's at school and the man's at work, you could at least don a costume and do a bit of surreptitious, anonymous world-saving. You can buy frigging spaghetti with meatballs in any supermarket FFS.
But no. Charlize, despite being able to blast through walls and smack people with fuck-off big trucks, relies on Will to save her, because he's always saved her. And the thing is, I *love* the Epic Romance Throughout All History thing. It's so much of a kink that it once got me to read Anne Rice books. But this was just perfunctory and lame and sexist and insulting in every possible way.
There was one moment where I thought they were going to do something interesting with the plot about a black 'man' and a white 'woman' being together for all eternity, some of it spent in places where bigots would get violent about that, but they chickened out in a way that still raised the spectre of the issue, which made it much worse than if they'd never addressed it at all -- and in the end these lovers through all eternity barely even shared a kiss.
So in the end, we have Hancock returning to fight crime in what looked like New York, while Charlize goes back to being wifey and hiding all her powers. And then, in one last dangleberry on this foetid arsehole of a plot, Hancock scratches Ray's logo on the moon so it can be seen all over the world. Because nothing says "Hey man, thanks for helping me redeem myself" like VANDALISING THE MOON WITH ADVERTISING.
I note that Vince Gilligan wrote the script. I shake my head at you, sir.
This review is a mere skeleton outline of the idiocy of this film. If this film were the Venus de Milo of stupidity and skeeviness, I have only described her belly button in this entry.
I haven't even touched on the shiteness of the main villain, the barely coherent plotting, the way Standard Thug #5,793-6,709 all seem to be of Latino origin, the way that Ray fades out of the film when the best relationship in it is between him and Hancock...
I am not remotely qualified to deconstruct all the skeeviness in this movie. Just let me tell you this:
DO NOT GO SEE IT. YOUR IQ WILL DROP 40 POINTS
My mood theme says "embarrassed" because I am embarrassed for all involved. I am SO SICK of the way Hollywood portrays women. No wonder we're all about watching the telly on LJ. At least on telly there's a chance of a strong woman appearing who is not solely defined in relation to a bloke.
ETA: I just realised that I quite enjoyed hating it. I wasn't bored because I hated it *that much*. What does that say about me?
In other news, I note that it is still not Saturday evening. What's up with that?