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David Poland

By David Poland

Going Off Half-Cocked

Based on the early test screening reviews of Hancock… reviews of a film that is different in many ways from the one being released into theaters… I kind of understand the general negativity surrounding the film.
But that

31 Responses to “Going Off Half-Cocked”

  1. berg says:

    Hancock is butter, Iron Man is margarine …

  2. martin says:

    All I’ve heard about Hancock is the AICN reviews that indicated it was a Wild Wild West level turd, and that the original script was much smarter/more adult than a generic summer PG-13 actioner. The critics have their knives out for it, so my guess is that Dave will be in the minority, even if he’s right. Then again, Transformers didn’t capture many critics hearts so I guess the real question is whether audiences are going to be recommending it 2 weeks after release. I Am Legend had that. Is $250 mill. a solid success for Hancock? It looks like a $150 mill at least budget.

  3. Rothchild says:

    They kept all the smart stuff, but the movie has no room to breathe. If it was 2 hours long it would be as great as Berg’s other movies. Either way, it’s solid as fuck.
    Don’t spoil it for yourself.

  4. martin says:

    So basically handcock plays more like a Bay movie? I have less of a problem with the overcut movies than ones that leave too much on-screen.

  5. Rothchild says:

    Scenes are missing. But the scenes that remain aren’t overcut into craziness.

  6. Why do people continue to read AICN for “reviews”. Those things are either incredibly positive or incredibly negative.

  7. scooterzz says:

    saw it tonight and it’s so much better than expected…..
    will smith is just one of the most charming ‘movie stars’ working and peter berg knows what works…..
    i’d certainly rather sit through this a second time than wall-e a second time….jus’…well, you know….sayin’…..

  8. LexG says:

    I am expecting the OWN-O-METER to hit a full 11: TOTAL OWNAGE.

  9. jeffmcm says:

    “Own-o-meter” is actually mildly amusing.

  10. scarper86 says:

    The latest TV spot I saw last night gives away one of the movie’s twists. It wasn’t in any of the trailers or previous TV spots but someone says “You’re becoming…” Arrgh.

  11. leahnz says:

    david poland, scoot, anyone who’s seen it, can i take the 9 yr old? it’s hard to judge by the preview i saw and it’s rated ‘m’ here, a rather wide-ranging catch-all rating for anything not made just for kiddies through to downright adult fare. my wee lad is so psyched for it, he’s counting down till it opens next week (the weirdness of that is a whole nother kettle of fish) and i feel a bit apprehensive about taking him cold, would like to get some opinions first.
    btw, he recoils dramatically at anything ‘lovey-dovey’ (even kissing, etc…) and i’m not cool with graphic violence beyond ‘iron man’ level or a lot of cursing because he is, like all kids, a great bloody mimic

  12. Leah is NZ’s rating system the same as Australia’s? I know our M is the equivelent of America’s PG13 (for the most part, anyway).

  13. White Label says:

    that read like a review. And honestly, it wasn’t really on my radar as something I wanted to see (the whipping the whale into the sailboat in the preview just seemed really dumb to me, and turned me off the whole thing).
    I’d probably go if someone asked, now.

  14. harosa says:

    What i assume is a plot twist was given away when this movie was being made and photos of them filming in the streets were put online.And now the latest tv commercials seem to be putting it out there also.

  15. movieman says:

    Is it true that “Hancock” is only 93 minutes, Scooter?
    The original run time posted on filmjerk was 115 minutes.
    We don’t get to see it until Thursday here in Cleveland.

  16. Bartholomew Richards says:

    I think DP’s reading too much into Berg’s style. Letting the camera move bounce while it lingers on a character doing something mundane does not mean the movie goes “to a darker place in the characters”, it just means Berg thinks he’s better than he actually is. Much like James Grey and his retarded smoke-out finale in We Own The Night.
    Anyhow, I would be looking forward to this movie much more if I hadn’t read in a number of places that they had to fuck up a good R-Rated script to make it PG-13. I don’t really understand why, if Bad Boys II was a hit, why couldn’t Hancock be an R-Rated hit?

  17. mysteryperfecta says:

    All I know about Hancock is from trailers and commercials, which have been underwhelming.

  18. Bartholomew-
    That final scene in WE OWN THE NIGHT was God-awful, but I still think that car chase scene is one of the best EVER and will forever be relegated to a totally crappy movie. Until someone rips it off and puts it in a cooler movie….

  19. Yep, according to Arclight, it’s a mere 92 minutes. Ya know, on one hand Dave’s review makes me want to see the film. I share his affection for The Rundown and I love Friday Night Lights (didn’t like The Kingdom much, but that was for reasons seemingly unrelated to Berg).
    But, just like The Incredible Hulk, we’re asked to fork over a ticket price for a movie where it’s all but advertised that we’re getting an appetizer for the super-duper uncut, unrated, director’s cut in November on DVD or BluRay.
    This is different from a comedy that slaps a few minutes back into the DVD release and calls it’ unrated’. That’s cheap, but it’s fair. It’s still the same movie. But this, where it’s obvious that the film we’re seeing is not the film as it was intended, well that’s the kind of thing that makes me pay $6 on a Friday morning before work instead of an evening ticket price. Basically, we’re paying for Hancock: The Compromise Cut.

  20. movieman says:

    I wasn’t even aware that the original “Hancock” script was apparently “R”-rated in nature. Interesting.
    When I first heard about the 90-ish minute run time, I flashed back to the “MIB” movies which were 98 and 88 minutes respectively.
    It sounded like Big Willy was aiming for another fast-paced, breezy romp. I hope it delivers.
    Speaking of Berg, has anyone else heard the rumor (unsubstantiated at this point) that “Friday Night Lights” is being musicalized for the Great White Way?

  21. Chucky in Jersey says:

    I saw the “Hancock” trailer in front of “Kung Fu Panda”. That trailer makes “Hancock” a good concept mortally wounded by a Legion of Doom soundtrack.

  22. Tofu says:

    Poland made me appreciate Berg with his fawning over The Rundown, which in turn made me enjoy the flick far more than anyone else I know.
    However, for this one… Not feeling it. Holding off until I hear some other personal word of mouth. Seems like it is missing an entire Act of plot.
    Men in Black 1 & 2 were simultaneously too short to justify a ticket purchase, and too long to justify the blatant stupidity.

  23. David Poland says:

    Leah… borderline call on the 9-year-old.
    They do the “one example of each dirty word” schtick to skirt the R and get the PG-13. So there are epithets, including sexist ones.
    But the violence is minimal and very cartoon-y (even the one extreme case). Any sentimentalism doesn’t last very long.
    It’s more real than something like X3, but no worse, really. He is a realistic drunk in some ways, hanging out at a bar, drinking at 8am. It’s those kind of issues that might make for uncomfortable questions, not so much the violence or language, I think.

  24. LexG says:

    Nine years old?
    Man, I had seen Alien, The Shining, Dirty Harry, Halloween II, American Werewolf and The Godfather all before my 10th birthday, and looked how I turned out.
    (Of course those were on HBO where I wasn’t annoying other cinema patrons, so there is that.)

  25. LexG says:

    I’d say the answer is “being awesome.”
    Peter Berg doesn’t just OWN YOUR ASS, he also leases with an option to buy as well just in case you think you’ve found a loophole. But you haven’t. Because he fucking OWNS YOU.

  26. jeffmcm says:

    Bow wow.

  27. leahnz says:

    thanks for that rundown, mr. poland, exactly the sort of details i wanted before hand so i know what i’m in for.
    it sounds somewhat inappropriate for my little man, but hell, i’m on a roll with the parental margin calls so i’ll probably chance it, he’s so keen to see it i’d feel like ‘a big meano’ if i put my foot down on this one.
    after reading lex’s post, i’m starting to wonder if i’m an unduly strict mum! the boy is a tough little nut but has a few issue with being afraid of the dark at the mo after seeing some freaky ghost show on the discovery channel, so i never know if i’m doing the right thing now.
    kam, i had a look at the film classifications for nz, surprisingly ‘m’ was deemed ‘suitable for children 16yrs and over, though younger children can view it’, which is even more stringent than i thought! there’s also an ‘m13′ rating which i have never seen before on any movie in all my life (maybe that is the equivalent to your pg13-style ‘m’), the ratings usually go from ‘pg’ to ‘m’. wow, that’s really boring, sorry to be tedious

  28. RudyV says:

    R-rated? You mean the movie originally titled “Tonight, He Comes?” As in riffing on Larry Niven’s “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex” essay, explaining that since ejaculation results from the actions of involuntary muscles, a SuperOrgasm would eject SuperSperm at muzzle velocity. And then freed from their host, said SuperSperm would fly through the neighborhood looking for fertile wombs to penetrate.
    I am not kidding:

  29. Scott, I imagine most people who are going to see Hancock this weekend will be completely oblivious to the fact that it’s a “compromised cut”.

  30. Scott, I imagine most people who are going to see Hancock this weekend will be completely oblivious to the fact that it’s a “compromised cut”.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin