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Soundtrack review: Hancock (John Powell – 2008)

Composer of the month John Powell month

Soundtrack review: Hancock (John Powell – 2008)



People are still making big eyes at me when I mention “Hancock” among my favorite John Powell scores. This delicious little treat is very underrated and lost under the pile of high profile animation scores Powell wrote. But just bear with me…there are a couple of true gems in this one…

So you have a movie about an unlikely couple of superheroes played by Will Smith and Charlize Theron…He is cartoonish, a bit of an asshole and makes a mess of things, but still, a superhero. Who do you take to score this movie if not the guy who writes the best cartoon scores around and is also an awesome action music composer. And John Powell understood the character perfectly and delivered quite a score.

If you look past Hancock’s messy appearance and attitude, you find an amazing guy who actually cares and went through a lot. If you dig past the one minute long light comedy cues in this score, some fun and entertaining, others forgettable, you will find a heart almost as big as the one in “How to train your dragon”. You get a first heartbeat in the wonderful guitar motif “Mary beets meatballs”. Then in the middle of al the ruckus, “Getting therapy” grabs your hand and takes your breath away. It’s as sweet and playful as a child on a summer afternoon. It just makes you stick around a little longer, until the end of the score begins.

After all the fooling around, from “Mortal” on the score enters a state of grace. I admit, so does the movie, at least for me, and the music mirror the wonderfully emotional finale of “Hancock”. The music becomes ethereal, everything around it quiets down and you feel like you’re looking inside the soul of this composition and of this superhero. Everything comes together in a melodic and tender breath. “Upon us all” is a heartwarming and inspiring piano motif that melts into “Death and transfiguration”, my favorite piece from this score. This is one of the best tracks John Powell has ever written, it’s the origin of your favorite “How to train your dragon” motifs and it deserves the rare 6 star status. The amazing movie scene it plays on also increases the effect this cue has on me. “The moon and the superhero” is the perfect epilogue to this journey.

I will continue to mention “Hancock” as one of my favorite John Powell scores, even if people will keep making big eyes at me. But does a kid care when his imaginary world is not understood by the grownups?

Cue rating: 82 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 29 / 45

Album excellence: 65%


SUV Chase

John, Meet Ray

The Trailer

Mary Brings Meatballs

Getting Therapy

To War

I Really Hat That Word

Standing Ovation



Upon Us All

Death And Transfiguration

The Moon And The Superhero

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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