Hancock Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.35:1 1080p transfer using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. This is another solid transfer as we have come to expect from Sony.
Detail is first class with plenty to see from close up skin marks, pores and hair to distant waves on the sea off shore of Hancock's hovel. This detail shows up particularly well in the opening chapter from Hancock waking on the seat, his bad skin and facial hair in sharp relief and when he flies off, the background plates, the buildings and windows, are equally as distinct. Clear defined edges with no softening of the image. Not as much three dimensionality as some of the best pictures out there but enough image pop to stand out.
Colour is well represented if a little red at times but the primaries fair very well. The skies are a rich blue with no banding or posterization problems, the greens of the plants are pleasingly lush while the oranges of the prison jump suits are vibrant. Flesh tones look natural and only stray a little towards the red on rare occasion.
Brightness is set to give some decent deep blacks giving some good depth to frame with a good amount of shadow detail when needed. Contrast is set to give strong whites without any boosting, look to the bleached prison yard to see plenty of detail intact.
Digitally there were no compression problems and no edge enhancement either, being such a new print there were no negative defects either, just clean and bright with the lightest smattering of grain to give that filmic look. In all a solid, excellent picture, just not quite up there with the reference marks.
Four sound tracks to choose from Russian and Ukrainian Dolby Digital 5.1, German and English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround, here I concentrate on the latter. Like the picture the sound track too is a very solid affair if not quite remarkable. Starting off well with the freeway shoot out there is plenty for the speakers to sing about, with engine noise, gun shots, sirens, tire squeals and the score to fill the room. It's neatly done with directionality and a decent wide stage. The same could also be said for the super punch up which again has plenty of action to fill the room. However for the most part this is a very subtle mix, as a dialogue heavy film it is left to the score and a little ambience to make use of the surround speakers and even then it is sparing.
There is a good range with some decent enough bass, but the sub doesn't really get a thorough workout, but is used to fill the score and give enough low frequency to ground everything in well. Dialogue is natural sounding and does have a little directionality when called for. Effects are limited but effective. The entire track is very efficient and whilst it may not stand out in any particular area is vibrant enough to be completely satisfying.
- Picture in Picture
Rather than a video commentary the makers have opted for a video diary that plays as the in picture. We are treated to plenty of behind the scenes action and can see how scenes were constructed and filmed, but with no narrative it is easy to loose a little interest. A clever idea that doesn't quite work.
- Superhumans: Making Hancock - 0.12.51
A very basic 'entertainment channel' type promotional feature dressed up to look like a making of featurette. Interviews with the main cast and crew and a little behind the scenes filming that is padded with plenty of film footage; all way too sappy and fawning with little or no depth at all.
- Seeing the Future - 0.15.11
A lot is packed into this short feature about the pre-visualisation process that is used to map out exactly how the film is going to look. More and more films now use this technology and this feature goes into some depth into explaining how it all works and showing the results along with building the film composite. Seen it all before, of course, but at least this is one feature that is worth watching.
- Building a Better Hero - 0.08.15
John Dykstra explains how to incorporate CG and practical effects into one seamless shot. Very short but nevertheless informative.
- Bumps and Bruises - 0.10.28
Takes a look at the various amounts of stunt work needed for the film and how much Smith did himself, contains interviews and footage and is light and fluffy enough to entertain.
- Home Life - 0.10.48
Concentrates on location and set building with emphasis on the Embrey household. Interviews with various prop and set designers are liberally interspersed with film material.
- Suiting Up - 0.08.22
Costume designers discuss Smith's look as the down and dirty and superhero attire, light and padded, that's the feature not the suit.
- Mere Mortals: Behind the Scenes with Dirty Pete - 0.03.57
Odd little feature in which Peter Berg proves he has ADHD and that it's infectious to his cast and crew .... Or something like that, honestly I have no idea.
As the name suggests.
- BD Live
As yet not working
- Unrated version
The set contains two versions of the film, the theatrical cut and the unrated (or rated 15 in the UK) cut. The differences amount to the odd swear word and a new scene in which Hancock takes a very willing lady back to his hovel, the consequences of which leave holes in his roof. These additions add very little to the film.
What on the surface looks to be a reasonable amount of extra features what it actually turns out to be is rather less enjoyable and more one watch features. Whilst I like the video diary aspect is seemed to be missing some context. On the whole all rather samey.
Hancock remains indefinable as a genre as it tries too hard to fill many shoes, even though there is much to enjoy during the run time the whole experience remains somewhat of a let down. Will Smith and Charlize Theron have a real sparkle together and their respective characters go through the wrangler giving each some decent emotional depth. A sizzling score, MTV style editing and camera work give a very music video feel and whilst it may win fans for its look and the fact Smith is in it, ultimately it can only be seen as a let down.
Sony has once again provided a very solid package, with excellent picture and sound and a decent enough extras package. The film may not bowl you over then its presentation on Blu-ray will.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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- Picture in Picture