Movie Review: Hancock and the Deus Ex Wrench

DKC and I watched Hancock together last night, and I have to say that my reaction is pretty mixed. I’ve read the same thing from many reviews–that the film is essentially schizophrenic, consisting of two entirely different movies that sort of have been lumped together. They just happen to share the same actors and general subject matter. And I’d have to say that those reviews are right. You have what amounts to a film that promises to be one thing, then ends up being something entirely different–something which, while still cool, doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. What really upsets me is that I don’t think it would have been too much of a stretch to blend the two movies together more, which gives me the feeling that perhaps more of the film was cut than should have been. So much of the time, editing can really make or break a movie. Of course, in Hancock’s case, there were so many different directors, actors and writers attached to the film in its creation process, that it might just be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen.

It’s also an excellent example of how not to handle fantasy. I remember back in one of my first writing groups, my friend Brandon Sanderson (Was it you, Brandon, or me? I can no longer remember)–anyway, it was pointed out that one of the writers had essentially pulled what we termed a Deus Ex Wrench. There’s a literary term (Deus Ex Machina) which refers to when the resolution of a plot happens by divine intervention, or implausible luck, etc. The case in question, however, was when a conflict arose ex nihilo–divine misintervention, so to speak. A monkey wrench appears in the plot out of nowhere, and it exists only to make things worse for the protagonists. That’s what happens in the last 15 minutes or so of this movie. The laws of this fantasy hero world have been established, everything seems groovy, and then at the last minute: WHAM! There’s this rule to the fantasy that hadn’t been clear before, and because of it, suddenly everything’s more complicated. This is not a good way to create conflict. Trust me.

So what do I rate Hancock? In the end, I’ll have to go with a middle of the road 2.5 stars. It wasn’t awful by any means, but that’s a very bitter 2.5 stars–it could have been somebody. It could have been a contender . . .

4 thoughts on “Movie Review: Hancock and the Deus Ex Wrench”

  1. I think that was actually you, Bryce. At least, I remember you coining it. I’ve used it a couple of times in my class now, with you as the attribution, so it’s at least urban-lore-wise now yours. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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