Hancock Blu-ray Review
PicturePresented in it's correct theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and given the 1080P High Definition makeover courtesy of the MPEG 4 codec, Hancock continues the trend of Sony's recent Blu-ray releases - that trend being near perfection.
First up, I'll cover the amount of detail on show at any one time - it really is astonishing. Close ups give away the actors botox bill for the month even the tiniest blemish is given up in this lush transfer. The detail stretches out to the costumes - check Hancocks' leathers when he dons his superhero duds for the first time and you'll see every line in the pattern of the material and every muscle on Smiths finely toned body is shown off to great effect.
Colours are next for the microscope - and just like the level of detail, they are nigh on spot on...we all know that one of the hardest colours to reproduce accurately is black. Well it just so happens that Hancocks costume is black - several different shades of black to be precise. And this disc - along with a well calibrated system - will show the different shades brilliantly. Add in Smiths black hair and the shades that he wears for the majority of his screen time and you have a disc that will stretch the best display to it's limits.
SoundAs with the outstanding picture quality that Sony seem to churn on disc after disc, they have also released some discs with absolute reference quality sound just lately - with Dolby TrueHD being the studios loslless format of choice.
Hancock continues that trend from the first minute the disc starts spinning. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack presented here is one of the most dynamic I've heard - and I've heard a few!
The good thing about this track to my ears is the subtle detail embedded deep in the soundtrack. For me personally, Home Cinema isn't just about trying to shake my house to bits at it's very foundations with bass - though I do have a good time trying! No - to me, it's all about the realism. When a building comes down, it's about hearing the individual bricks hit the ground. It' about the accuracy of the positioning of individual sounds - and again, Hancock hits all the right buttons in the sound department.
In the opening scene where Hancock lifts the car into the sky before dropping it, you can hear the protests of the cars occupants above the carnage that's going on all around. The sound of the traffic is well implemented as well - as Hancock takes off with the car in one hand and his reputation in the other, it actually sounds like the traffic he's leaving behind is actually below the viewer - it's a very clever trick and one that I have never heard before.
Recently, superhero films have been panned worldwide for the audibility of the dialogue - some people just find it impossible to hear what's going on for some reason. But the dialogue in Hancock suffers no such traits - it's locked firmly to the centre speaker and is perfectly audible all the way through.
The surround channels are used throughout to superb effect and fear not bass heads - your prayers have been answered in the form of an LFE channel that will rattle teeth and flap the trousers on you sleeping granddad on Christmas afternoon - it will also shake the very foundations of your dental work just to keep you happy.
All in all, the Hancock soundtrack is a lesson in sound mixing and lightens up an otherwise mediocre film.
ExtrasLike The majority of Sony's disc releases, they are trying to push the Blu-ray live feature first and foremost. However, as with the other discs, it seems like there's a lot of hanging around for your player to connect with very little result. I guess of you use the BD Live function regularly, then it will be of some benefit to you - but for me, the only reason my Blu-ray player is connected to the internet is for firmware updates...but let's take a look at what the disc has to offer in the way of real extras...
Super-humans: The making Of Hancock (12.51 HD) is one of the shortest making off's...I've seen - at a little over twelve minutes, it spends most of it's short running time slapping Will Smith on the back...
Seeing The Future (15.11 HD) is a rather good luck at how the film makers actually put the whole film together using crude computer images before shooting in real life begins. I'm not sure whether or not it'll ever take the place of storyboards, but it seems to be an effective method of seeing what the finished article will look like before a frame has been shot.
This segment contains seven scenes and compares the concept CGI to the finished article.
Building A Better Hero (08.15 HD) is a short vignette about the special effects in the movie.
Bumps And Bruises (10.28 HD) tells us how the director likes to shoot as many stunts with the real actors as possible for believability reasons. It seems that the majority of today's actors are more than willing to dangle from a piece of wire seventy feet in the air...quite a contrast to a similar vignette I saw on one of the Bond Blu-ray discs when Roger Moore wouldn't even take a fake punch...
Home Life (10.48 HD) shows the viewer how the studio built the Embrey family home on the backlot so they didn't have to disturb a real housing complex...doesn't show what happened to it when shooting had wrapped...
Suiting Up (08.40 HD) is a vignette handed over to the costume department - I suppose everybody deserves their five minutes - don't they>
Mere Mortals: Behind The Scenes With Dirty Pete (03.37 HD) - “Dirty Pete” in this instance is director Peter Berg - it's a short piece showing how he sometimes lost his rag with the cast and crew when things weren't going right - one of the funniest parts is when he starts yelling at a cameraman for being away from his camera - the cameraman is doing an interview at the time saying how great Peter Berg is!
The House Bunny
Nick And Nancy
There's also a Video Diary that runs as a Picture in Picture feature over the main feature - it's OK but not brilliant. Works flawlessly though - which is a good thing - provided you have a Profile V1.1 player...
So there we have a half decent set of extras on paper - but when you put them altogether all you have is a mediocre making of documentary split into several parts and a PiP commentary...but what is there is fairly informative if not innovative.
The disc also contains the D Bose motion system for those of you that feel the need to have your furniture rocked while you're watching films.
VerdictHats off to the cast and crew of Hancock - though not quite the film that was raved about on release this summer, it's a good attempt at making something new. But the films biggest plus point is also it's biggest flaw - from the outset, Hancock doesn't seem to know where it's going.
It's all down to the leading man, Will Smith, that this film actually worked in the first place. An uncanny, almost spooky perfect sense of comedy timing and the ability to drag an audience in and keep them there regardless of the script is going to make sure that the Fresh prince is going to have his name above the title for many years to come.
Sony have produced the goods again in the Blu-ray quality department though. With a picture quality so razor sharp you could shave with it and a sound quality to please bass heads and purists alike, this could be the demo disc of choice for those of you that enjoy showing your expensive systems off to your mates - and who doesn't?
The extras package is a little padded and it's all been done before - but what there is is informative and will please Will Smith fans everywhere.
Hancock would be a perfect rental this Holiday season. I don't think it has much rewatch appeal so I would find it hard to give a better recommendation than that I'm afraid. But great family fun when you do watch it.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.77
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