Director: Brett Ratner
Writers: Ryan Condal, Evan Spiliotopoulos, Steve Moore
Cast: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Rufus Sewell, Aksel Hennie, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Reece Ritchie, Joseph Fiennes, Tobias Santelmann, Peter Mullan, Rebecca Ferguson, Isaac Andrews, Joe Anderson, Stephen Peacocke, Nicholas Moss
Synopsis: Having endured his legendary twelve labors, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for epic battle sequences, violence, suggestive comments, brief strong language and partial nudity
7 / 10
- Action scenes are well choreographed
- Great premise
- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's performance was good.
- The psychic sage was funny
- The sets and costume designs seemed authentic
- The lighting and trick cinematography work well together to pull off a bait and switch with audiences' imaginations. One minute making you think you're seeing centaurs from a distance, but only to find out they're actually men riding on top of horses.
- 3-D cinematography is good
- Film moves at a decent pace
- The humor is funny, and it helps set the light hearted tone of the feature.
- The script is poorly written
- The supporting characters have little to no personality. Although the sage guy was entertaining.
- The villains are nothing more than generic cartoon bad guys
- The movie is very unrealistic, and contains various examples of having lapse in logic, as it pertains to it's own story content.
- Characters are poorly developed.
- Film tends to come off as a bit cheesy.
- "Hercules" is very predictable, and contains a lot of cliches.
I AM HERCULES!!!!!!
"Hercules" is arguably one of the most iconic fictional characters in history. Many of his stories reeked of epic action and adventure that would capture the imagination of any young mind out there. His travels would often contain stories of various tragedies throughout his life, and it can be argued that many of today's comic book superheroes were inspired from his legends to some degree (i.e. Superman).
Needless to say, there's been a lot of movies based on the heroic, "Hercules", over the years. Some were good, and others were just downright terrible. This new film isn't based on the original source material per say, as it derives it's story from the Radical Comics' version.
This movie takes the unique approach of looking at the possibility that perhaps there was no legend after all. That maybe the real Hercules was just another man like anyone else, but he just happened to be very strong,while fighting in the Greek army at a young age. While fighting in many battles over the years, people would make up stories saying how he's the son of Zeus because of his fierce strength, and he would casually go along with it because he felt it was a good strategic move on his part to strike fear into his enemies.
Aided by his group of friends, as they help endorse the legend of Hercules to such a disgusting degree. Heck, even Hercules' own nephew gets in on the act, by conjuring up most of the legendary stories to begin with. Exaggerating them to the point of absurdity, and making Hercules out to be this immortal godlike figure that can't be hurt by any mortal being. Don't get me wrong, I love the concept of this story a lot.
The prospect of finding out that the legendary son of Zeus is a lie, and discovering the truth behind the legend does seem like a great premise, when you stop and think about it. And in the hands of a more capable writer and director, this might've been arguably one of the best films about the iconic hero to date.
However, the over the top moments, and various cliches, ruin what could've been a great story. Don't get me wrong, "Hercules" is still a fun movie as is, but it falls tragically short of being what it could've been.
In the hands of a better writer, the story could've been something groundbreaking about how sometimes the heroes we idolize aren't always what they're made out to be, and how they can be just normal people just struggling to survive like the rest of us. In the hands of a better filmmaker, this movie could've delivered something deeply insightful about the concepts of faith. However, Brett Ratner chooses to go the route of turning this into another generic action adventure epic riddled with various cliches, in order to entice audiences instead.
While it doesn't necessarily make "Hercules" a bad film per say, but it does make the whole movie come off being extremely predictable. Not to mention the over the top cheese moments don't help either but as I said before, it's a fun film that I'm sure most audiences will enjoy. However, I just wouldn't expect too much out of it.
The story centers around a man named Hercules (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), whose known throughout Greece, as being this demi godlike figure. A man who allegedly can't be killed by any mortal man or weapon. A man that's said to be the son of Zeus. However, unknowingly to everyone outside of his social circle, Hercules is really nothing more than an orphan that grew up fighting in various wars at a very early age. Word would spread about his impressive strength to where people would say he's a god, so he rolls with it because he believes it gives him a strong strategic advantage over the enemy. If they think he's an immortal godlike being, then chances are they'll be too scared of him during the fight; which is a huge psychological advantage to have on any enemy.
He even manages to gain a family of his own, but they're viciously slaughtered. Haunted by his conflicted past, he becomes a mercenary for hire. Selling his services to the highest bidder for money, while being aided by his accomplices.
Things seem to be going well, until he discovers that he was helping the wrong side all along. Now, with a grim choice to make, Hercules must decide... Is he truly the legendary hero that all of Greece has admired over the years? Or is he merely the truth behind the legend? He must decide before it's too late, as one of his own comrades eloquently puts it, "Who are you?" And he'll reply, "I AM HERCULES!!!" I do apologize to all my readers for that last sentence, as that part of the film still cracks me up to this day.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson once said that he felt he was born to play this part, and I have to agree. He definitely looks the part of Hercules, and he adds a lot of humor to the role as well. Adding in subtle ounces of humor into this character, when appropriate. But, he's also shown to be able to convey the dramatic side of his character. Sure, there's a few over the top moments with his character, as it's shown in the trailers; like him yelling out his own name to beating up a giant lion with a club.
Dwayne seems to have a lot of fun with this part, as it's almost reminiscent of watching Arnold Schwarzenegger when he took on his iconic role as Conan many years back. Like Conan, Hercules is also shown to be a very cynical character when it comes to the topic of gods possibly existing. In one scene for instance, the king tells Hercules that his army doesn't need to finish their training because the gods have sent them Hercules, so the gods must surely be on their side. This leads Hercules to ask the king if these gods were even going to fight alongside them.
In a strange way, it reminded me a lot of that one scene in Conan, where one person mentions something about how the gods are always watching. Then Conan shrewdly asks if the gods would fight alongside them, and the other person says all they do is watch. And then Conan replies angrily saying, "Then tell your gods to stop watching!" It was funny scene, and in a strange way that brief scene in Hercules reminded me of it. Granted, it's not as funny as the one I just described in Conan, nor was it meant to be. However, that brief scene in Hercules shows how naive people can be when it comes to faith sometimes, as this film does play on that aspect quite a bit.
In one scene, we're led to believe that Hercules leads an army against a group of centaurs. And with the way the lighting is portrayed on them along with the cinematography, it makes it very believable. Yet when we come upon closer inspection of these alleged centaurs, we find out their actually humans riding on top of horses. In another scene, we're shown an intense battle between Hercules and a Hydra Dragon. Yet in a following scene, we're shown that the dragon was nothing more than humans dressing up as one to scare their enemies. Indeed, this film plays upon the prospect that some of these legends are based on silly superstitions quite a bit; which is another reason why this film could've been epic if Ratner had chosen a less sillier tone for this movie.
However, the thing that makes this movie come off as being extremely cheesy is the fact it's not very realistic at times. Granted, I can normally forgive a film for not being realistic. After all, most movies in general aren't realistic. And with a character like Hercules, I don't expect much realism to begin with. However, the thing that irks me about the realism in this particular story is that it presents you with the idea that perhaps the legendary Hercules isn't a demigod after all. Maybe he's just a man that knows how to fight, and then you see all these other iconic legends turning out to be fake along the way.
Therefore, it seems like the film tries to prepare you for the prospect that all these fantastical elements that we read about in legends were all made up. Yet when we see scenes like Hercules breaking out of his steel chains using only his brute strength, and seeing him push a huge twenty foot statue to crush some soldiers, then it kind of kills the credibility a lot to your audience, when you're trying to sell them on the idea that this is the real truth behind the legend schtick. Not only does it make the movie a bit cheesy, but it makes it seem downright stupid in it's lack of logic.
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is a very strong guy in person. Heck, I know for a fact he could definitely kick my a** if he wanted to, but the thing is I'm not even sure he could do all those things that he did in the movie though. Sure, I'll buy into the fact that Hercules is strong enough to knock over a horse with his bare hands. I'll even buy into the prospect that Hercules' punch could cause a man to fly across the air, for a few feet before landing on the ground. I'll even buy into the fact that he can take out four men with one blow from his giant club.
But him being strong enough to break out of STEEL chains using only his brute strength alone? And being able to push a huge twenty foot statue onto people? I'm sorry, but that's a bit hard to swallow. Dwyane might be a very strong guy, but I doubt he's that freakishly strong; which sadly makes "Hercules" not only very unrealistic at times, but it can come as being downright campy in a lot of ways because of minor things like this.
But as I said before, "Hercules" isn't a bad movie per say. As is, it's actually a very fun action film that moves at a good pace, while giving audiences a heavy dose of entertainment. Sure, the story could've been handled better, but the overall tone of the film itself sets it up to have more of an emphasis on entertainment value rather than coming up with a great narrative.
The characterization in this film was fairly lousy at best. Most of Hercules' comrades were mainly nothing more than generic stereotypes that had little to no personality. The token girl of the group is often accused of being an amazon throughout this feature, yet she has no resemblance of a real personality. In fact, all she does is look hot while killing people with her bow and arrow.
You have a generic nephew that looks up to Hercules, and he wants to become a hero himself. But like most stories of this ilk, you can tell he's a bit socially awkward about it, as his Uncle constantly tells him not to fight at his side because of how dangerous it is. You have a psychic that travels with Hercules that acts as his conscience and "Yoda" type figure. You also have the quite maniac who says little to nothing throughout the damn movie, but his common personality trait is that he acts more like an animal than human. Gee, I guess it must've been easier for the writers to give some of these characters quirks rather than giving them actual personalities.
Although I have to admit, the psychic sage is kind of funny. Of course, lets not forget about the best friend, who you know is going to doubt Hercules' plan to rebel against the evil king, but you know he's going to come around anyway to helping him out in the end because that's how they roll...
And don't even get me started on the villains in this feature, as they're basically nothing more than cardboard cutouts of generic stereotypes. Seriously, you couldn't make these villains more blatantly obvious they were the bad guys if you had them all say some crap like, "Hi, I'm the bad guy. I think I will kill you later on in this feature. Hahaha."
As for the technical aspects to this feature, there's really not all that much to complain about. The set designs seem to be very authentic, and the action scenes are well choreographed. I was even impressed by the 3-D cinematography, as it's definitely impressive on a visual level. It's just a crying shame the script wasn't written better. Otherwise, I'd definitely recommend seeing this in 3-D.
Overall, I can't say that I hated this film, but I'm not going to lie and say it was great either. Like most films that come out in this day and age, "Hercules" falls more in the middle category of movies these days. It's not good, but it's not bad either. It's just borderline decent. Sure, the film has it's share of flaws in it's lapse of logic, and weak script. However, for what "Hercules" is, it's a fun movie that's easy to get into.
Is it stupid? Yes. Is it bit campy at times? Oh you bet. But then again, that seems to be what Brett Ratner was going for with this feature, and we get exactly that. I definitely wouldn't recommend anyone seeing this in theaters, but it's worth checking out on Netflix or on DVD/Blue Ray, when it comes out. As long as you don't expect too much out of it, then you should be fine watching this over the top cheesy action adventure flick.
© 2014 Steven Escareno
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