Hancock (2008), if you haven't actually seen it, probably looks a lot like some other Will Smith movies you actually have seen, an obnoxious hero of some variety battling the forces of evil. Yet that's only half the movie. I happen to really enjoy Smith as an actor (even if a lot of his movies do tend to follow that pattern, i.e. Independence Day, Men in Black, Wild Wild West, I Robot, I Legend, Hitch, even his TV show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), and his serious actor mode follows the somber example of Robin Williams. (Well, now it just sounds like I'm burying him!) Let me start over. There's a whole second level to Hancock that its previews ignored entirely. For instance, if you haven't seen it, you don't even know that Charlize Theron co-stars. Her half of the movie, how her character becomes involved in the story of Hancock, is what pushes the movie to heights rarely seen in superhero movies. The sad part is, I had an idea very similar to this six years before this film was released. Let this be a lesson to you: ideas that float in the creative ether will eventually be caught by someone else. Anyway, the concept eventually expands magnificently, and you will be rewarded tremendously (a lot of people who have seen it misinterpret this curveball; don't make that mistake). Hancock departs from the Will Smith mold, just as Smith himself was transforming his ambitions at the time into films that really began to explore his potential. Later that same year, he released his best film, Seven Pounds. So that makes it a shame that he subsequently took a break, because now we've had to wait to see what comes next. I'm game for another round of Agent J, because I love those movies, too, but he was on a roll, and there really was no telling what he could have done next.
Star Trek bonus!
H is for Hansen, Annika
(from Star Trek: Voyager)
Otherwise known as Seven of Nine, the Borg bombshell played by Jeri Ryan, so beloved that the actress became one of the few Star Trek alum to enjoy a thriving career on the scree after hanging up the (skin-tight) space suit. Seven was a fascinating character, and much like Hancock was easy to make a lot of assumptions about, and you would've been wrong in just about every one of them. Hr relationships with Janeway and The Doctor enriched both of them, but Seven herself, who was born a human and struggled to rediscover what that meant once her connection to the Collective was severed, didn't jump back into her humanity, nor did she retain every element of her former Drone personality. Like Spock and Data and even Odo before her, Seven blended the two conflicting elements of her nature for a fascinating portrait of what it means to define the self in the face of contradiction, or otherwise, what it means to be human.