by DeAnn Welker December 3, 2008 3:22 pm
Hancock Combine the box office success of Hancock with the fact that it's a superhero movie that appeals to people who really like to geek out with their DVDs, and you would expect a goldmine of extras on the DVD, right? Well, you would be sorely disappointed, because all you get here are the unrated version of the film (I honestly couldn't find the differences between the theatrical edition, though if you saw this a million times, maybe you will), a gazillion featurettes and (if you spring for the two-disc version instead of the cheaper single-disc edition) a digital copy of the film that you can transfer to your computer or PlayStation. I'm going to assume the digital copy of the movie is the same as the version on the disc and jump straight to the only extras that leaves us with: the seven (sorry; gazillion was an exaggeration) featurettes.

"Superhumans: The Making of Hancock": This is your typical documentary featurette that's made during filming and includes interviews with cast and crew members. It tries to be all-inclusive, telling you where the story came from, how it was cast, and how it was made. If you only watch one featurette, this should probably be it from purely an informational perspective, though the stunt doc, "Building a Better Hero" is better to my mind (see below). There's nothing real groundbreaking or anything, but it's always fun to hear actors, director, producer, and writer talk nice about each other (even though it would probably be more fun if they talked bad about each other).

"Seeing the Future": This 15-minute documentary is for ├╝ber-geeky effects fans or folks who want to be in the business of filmmaking, but not really for that many of the rest of us. It's an extremely technical look at how they made their effects-driven scenes using something called "pre-viz" (and, as someone who's not an effects geek, it actually took me awhile before I knew what they were saying, because they just started saying "pre-viz this" and "pre-viz that"). There's a short intro, and then the doc breaks down six of the film's effects scenes (the bank robbery scene, the flying sequence from the start of the movie, the train tracks scene, the seriously disturbing jail fight scene, the Charlize Theron-Will Smith fight scene all over the city, the liquor store holdup, and the hospital stuff from the end of the movie) using pre-viz. It is an interesting insight into the making of the movie, because most of us don't realize filmmaking can be done this way: They set up the scene and do the effects work before any filming is done, and then fit the live-action filming in with what's already there. Hence the term "pre-viz." To a layman, it seems like the most complicated, high-tech storyboarding process ever.

They have these scenes set up exactly how they want them and then have to make sure the live action fits with what they've mapped out effects-wise.

"Building a Better Hero": This featurette feels like it should have been part of the previous one really, since it's all about how some crazy effects wizard, John Dykstra, merges the CGI stuff with the live-action. It's basically a group of people sitting around and kissing Dykstra's ass. And, I mean, I'm sure he's great, but no one wants to see a movie featurette about just one person unless it's the star (and even then, it's iffy). If this praise of Dykstra's superhuman effects work had been tacked on to the larger effects doc, it wouldn't feel so ridiculous. But on its own, it does. At least it's short (less than ten minutes).

"Bumps and Bruises": This 10-minute featurette is one of the best on the disc. It's all about the stunt work on the film, which is pretty phenomenal. Will Smith does most of it himself, including jumping off buildings, being dragged across the street, and throwing himself through walls. Seriously. Whatever you thought about the movie, you have to acknowledge it had some pretty amazing action sequences (such as when Charlize and Will first fight; that scene is broken down here, and it's pretty astonishing what it took to make it happen: actually pulling a refrigerator through walls at about 60 mph, and then crushing cars with it).

"Mere Mortals: Behind the Scenes With Dirty Pete": This tongue-in-cheek featurette is the shortest of the docs (less than five minutes) and it's a pretty fun finish after all of these technical, serious, in-depth looks at the film. This one's about director Peter Berg, but it makes it look like he's actually a joke of a director, who says things like, "I want you to hit him SUPER hard" because "it's a SUPERhero movie." He tells Will to "Get SUPER angry." He yells at his camera operator (but it seems like a joke), mouths to the camera that Will's an asshole, and spends a chunk of time trying to do a Rubik's cube. Everyone describes Berg as basically a lunatic -- "a mad man," "a few clicks off center," "insane," to name a few. Oh, and Michael Mann kisses Peter Berg on the cheek. This is the one doc that will make people wish they'd been on this set. It looks like a hoot.

"Home Life" is your basic set design featurette, focusing mostly on the "Embry house," where Ray (Jason Bateman) and his family live. Likewise, "Suiting Up" is a run-of-the-mill look at the costumes, primarily Hancock's superhero stuff -- and since the superhero costumes were actually a part of the movie, this feels mostly pointless.

Buy it now!




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