Hancock: Unrated (Blu-ray)
SRP $39.95 2.35:1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 SONY

Critics were so hard on Will Smith's latest film, "HANCOCK," that one would expect it was horrible. While not perfect, it's certainly in the upper range of good, and "short" of great, only due to narrative problems in the last 1/3 of the film. SONY has released "HANCOCK" on dvd and blu-ray.

Will Smith stars as "Hancock," a superhero, who'd rather drink himself into a stupor and fall asleep in raggedy clothes on a park bench, than utilize his superhuman abilities, flying, enormous strength and more, to try rescuing people and fighting villains, due to the litigation and criticism his past well motivated feats have incurred. 

However, when Ray, a marketing consultant for huge corporations, is almost killed, when his car stalls on a train track, Hancock saves him. While onlookers only complain about damages to the train, Ray recognizes and appreciates what Hancock has had to deal with, choosing to give "Hancock" a media make-over. The premise is actually an intriguing one, and the best part of various themes running through the film. Unfortunately, a sub-plot, slowly revealed when Hancock comes to Ray's house for dinner and meets his wife, played by Charlize Theron, things begin to wander slightly into a different direction, that diminishes the best aspects of the film. Everyone does a fine job here. Smith is perfect as a reluctant superhero. Jason Bateman is completely believable and likeable as Ray. Even Charlize Theron gives another of her fine performances as the wife, with a secret. But, her character and the mystery behind her growing, discomfort with Hancock, becomes the weakest part of an otherwise creative, unpredictable film.

Peter Berg's direction, for the most part, feels fresh and energetic. Unfortunately, he's grown a penchant for dizzying camerawork, as he did in his previous film, "THE KINGDOM," and it almost becomes annoying.   All in all, "HANCOCK" works due to the great cast, heart-felt messages, and more than a few inspired laughs and twists on superhero mythology. It may not be great, but even a "pretty good" superhero film is welcome, anytime!

SONY has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray.  Berg's hyped up kinetic style of camera movement, prevents the wonderful detail from being fully realized for extended periods of time. However, during calmer sequences, one can appreciate the amazing depth of this transfer. Colors are pushed to maximum extremes, but there's no oversaturation.  Blacks are inky, and the majority of the film has a rich, cinematic texture to it, making it one of the more impressive recent blu-rays.

SONY has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. While the lossless mix for this action/comedy isn't packed with non-stop bass and surround effects, it's energetic enough and immersive when it really needs to be. Surrounds and bass are most prominent when boosting the music, but various scenes of HANCOCK flying and doing battle offer a fun punch. Everything's well balanced, and dialogue is always free from distortion.

There are some fun extras offered here. An "on set visual diary" offers plenty of behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and sampling of green screen effect set-ups. The rest of the extras are hit-or-miss featurettes, offered in 1080i. Trailers for a variety of upcoming releases are offered in full 1080p.