Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A movie review and more



(hears an echo)


Okay!! Okay! I'm sorry. I got engaged and disappeared. I didn't even blog on the presidential election-- the freakin' presidential election!

But right around the time Melissa McEwan took a step back from blogging at Shakesville, I realized I too needed a break.

Feminism is a passion of mine but let's face it, it's not a relaxing hobby. After the election, I cut back on reading blogs (although I couldn't stay away entirely) and I stopped commenting. I read frivolous books, planned my wedding and visited family.

Everyone needs to carve out time to be happy. I can start crying over a letter from OxFam!! There's a lot of suffering in this world and while I don't advocate ignoring it -- (we should always keep up with our teaspoons) it's also important to keep a healthy balance. You can't do any good if you're miserable.

So I took a break. But I'm ready to dip my toes back in again... so I figure... let's start with some fluff.

How about a review of a movie?

STOP NOW If you don't want spoilers---

So Will Smith is Hancock, the unhappy superhero who spends most of his day drunk, laying on park benches. He flies in to "save the day" but in the process wreaks havoc (think millions of dollars in destroyed property). Citizens of LA are unamused and boo him on sight. Nancy Grace even calls for his incarceration!

In steps the public relations man, Ray, played by Jason Bateman... Hancock saves him from a train and Ray repays him by offering to revamp his image. It's decided that the city needs to "miss Hancock." So they let Hancock go to prison to make amends.

While in prison, Hancock gets in a fight with two large cons (who apparently are the dumbest people ever -- who picks a fight with an immortal superhero?) and it ends with --- brace yourself --- Hancock putting one man's head up the other man's ass. Really..... Yes you see it... I guess it was supposed to be a funny but I was disgusted. Is there not some other sophomoric violent stunt he could have pulled without evoking imagery of unconsenting anal penetration????

Ray's wife, Mary (played by Charlize Theron) dislikes Hancock more than your average person and the audience is meant to deduce there is history there.

You learn that Hancock is drunk and miserable for a reason. He woke up 80 years ago (he's immortal and doesn't age) in a hospital in Miami with no memory whatsoever and no one to claim him. He's been lonely and grasping for his past and memories all these years.

SO-- major spoiler time...

We come to find (through some very lame and hole-filled storytelling) that Mary is actually an immortal hero as well and since the dawn of time she and Hancock were lovers/partners/some variation thereof. But they were star crossed and doomed to grow weaker and vulnerable when they were together. When Hancock lost his memory all those years ago, she fled hoping to save him and herself once and for all.

So Hancock became a drunken superhero and she became... a housewife.

Nothing against housewives, but this woman can do anything. She is actually STRONGER than Hancock. She is indestructible, she can fly and she can apparently control the weather and start tornadoes. I guess we're meant to believe that after all this time she wanted to lay low. But the motivation for hiding her gift is unclear -- other than to regulate her character to helpless woman role (yes Hancock has to SAVE HER at some point). During one scene she actually hands her husband a jar to open- when he does she sighs, "Oh honey you're so strong."

And later when she is giving Hancock the 'motivation speech,' she says something like, "You were built to save humanity, to be the God's insurance policy here on Earth!"

There's no trace of irony that she too is clearly built special-- endowed with God-like powers. But no, it's only Hancock with the magnificent, heroic destiny. When he flies off to leave her (as he must for their own good), the story jumps months into the future to show that Hancock has literally flown to the moon and back and yet Mary is still walking next to her husband and son, eating ice cream like any other domestic Plain Jane.

Fine. They can't be together. It destroys their powers. But you're telling me they couldn't fight crime and do battle in separate hemispheres? And the stupidest part, Mary's husband is Hancock's PR man. He was the biggest advocate of, "Your powers give you a special role to play-- use them well." Yet, he doesn't care when his wife hides her ability and stays home to cook meatballs when the world needs saving???

Charlize Theron is an amazing actress and it's a waste to give her this cardboard role. Basically she was a plot device -- only there to connect the two male leads and occasionally wear cleavage-baring, dominatrix/superhero get-up.

And it's a bummer because as far as superhero stories go, it had originality and potential but it fell so, so flat.


ouyangdan said...

That story line could have gone somewhere.

That concept is an old one (and one I swear I had in my heart long before I read greek/roman mythology)...the concept of soul mates (run it by Wiki sometime). It is fascinating in that humans used to be pairs (MM, MF, FF), and were intensely strong, stronger even than some gods in pairs, so much so that they had to be separated. Individually, they were just normal, like you and me...but forever drawn to find that other half, that missing part, be it a man or a woman, who completed them and made them incredible again.

"Mary", IMHO, reverts to being "just a housewife" (a term that grinds on me, b/c I don't like that sort of othering, but RQ and I agree to respectfully disagree) to counteract her super duper-ness. That grated on me quite a bit. Why couldn't she be awesome too? I understand her wanting to lay low, and playing it up for her husband, b/c it was part of the role...who would expect this woman who can't open her own jars of having goddess strength...

But the story...she didn't need to be "saved". It didn't make sense. Unless her power made her want to be evil or something, which I found both not explained well, and slightly hinted at.

Great take down.

Adrienne said...

I haven't seen the movie, so I have no idea-- but is it possible that maybe she didn't LIKE being a super-hero? That maybe after 1000 years of saving the world and all that she wanted to not only lay low, but have some stability and normalcy in her life? Trust me, the double standard makes me cringe, too, but I'm just playing devil's advocate.

Sarah said...

I liked the movie in terms of it just being a mindless action flick. We all need that once in a while and that's definitely what it was for me. It was really good up to the point that she was introduced as another superhero and the story was like swiss cheese after that and well, it's the first time in a while that I left a Will Smith action flick being not entirely entertained. And I do love me some Will Smith so, needless to say it was kind of a sad day.

Anonymous said...

Somehow I believe if Smith's and Theron's roles in this movie were reveresed, there would be a movie review upset at the idea that the only female super hero is a drunk degenerate. Theron seems to have the more likeable and more powerful role in this movie. She's a housewife cause she chooses to be, she doesn't use her powers, even in the smallest of situations when she could. Which easily makes her more powerful and credible than Smith. Really, as far as feminism goes this movie isn't even worth talking about.

Movies said...

Maybe it was a little flat, but it was a good movie. good to see Will Smith still doing some "funny" movies and don't get too serious nowadays. and by the way - i hope that that someday "Hancock 2" will be released (: