run time: 98 mins
considered: Action, Adventure
director: Brett Ratner
starring: Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Joseph Fiennes, Rufus Sewell, Akrel Hennie, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Reece Ritchie, Tobias Santelmann, Peter Mullan, Rebecca Ferguson
movie summary: Dwayne Johnson stars in a gripping story about betrayal, corruption, and the legend of the all mighty demigod Hercules. Hercules is the son of Zeus, the King of the Gods, who was born after an affair between Zeus and a mortal women. Hercules was not liked by Hera who wanted him dead. In an attempt to kill the young boy without actually getting her hands dirty she made him go through the Twelve Labors. These life threatening tasks have claimed the souls of many brave men who have tried and failed. Hercules makes it through the eleven stages before meeting his match with a mighty lion.
The legend of Hercules is told to us by the storyteller Lolaus (Reece Ritchie), who doesn’t bother to tell us how the story ends because he is currently tied up as a prisoner. His captives laugh at him and his foolish story, because they think Hercules is not real. Just when Lolaus is about to meet his death, Hercules walks through the smoke and fire wearing the dead lions head. He rescues Lolaus thanks to aid of his mercenaries Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), and Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal). Together the group travel the world killing any and everything that is evil in exchange for gold.
While on their travels they come across the beautiful Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson) who is seeking Hercules’ help for her father Lord Cotys (John Hurt). Their lands have come under attack by Rhesus (Tobias Santelmann) and their men are too weak and unprepared to survive the battles. Hercules gladly accepts the challenge to train Cotys’ armies as long as his men are paid handsomely in gold.
Training gets underway immediately because the initial assessment of the men shows they lack smarts and character. After several weeks of intense mental and physical training the army appears to be ready but suffer many casualties during a minor battle that results in Hercules saving the day. The men regroup and train even harder to get better so when the day comes to battle Rhesus’ army again they will be ready.
When the day finally arrives, Hercules leads the men into the fields where they will run head on into Rhesus’ armies who have closed in on the kingdom. Rhesus is taken back by how strong Hercules is and how well-trained Cotys’ men are. When the good guys win the battle, Lord Cotys’ throws a huge celebration to celebrate his victory and appoint himself King over all Greece. He offers Hercules and his mercenaries a job in his new kingdom but Hercules realises he has been played and refuses the offer. King Cotys kicks him out of the kingdom with his gold reward. Hercules is furious with the way he was used to wipe out opposing enemies just to help create a whole new dictatorship. After meeting with his friends Hercules feels he needs to do the right thing and bring King Cotys down no matter the cost.
The mercenaries are outnumbered by several hundred but with the demigod Hercules leading the way they will rage all out war to correct the wrongs of the past.
my thoughts: There is a lot of negative comments out there about Hercules, not because the Rock is the star, but because this isn’t the real story of Hercules. I can admit I don’t know anything about Hercules except he was the son of Zeus and was a demigod. Having sat down and watched the 2014 version of the story I can say that this was a bad vision of the famous legend.
I don’t have the exact word(s) to describe this film, the acting, or the legend but it falls flat in several areas. There’s no denying that Dwayne Johnson is one jacked up guy and was the perfect candidate to be Hercules but even his sometimes funny one-liners can’t save this film. The story does nothing to draw you into character or the events surrounding him, instead Hercules is just portrayed as a mortal man who survived through the help of his friends. Hercules has always been a larger than life figure in world history but these directors decided to tone down his legacy and present him as a mortal human whose only real ability was to survive battles and tell stories.
Hercule surrounds himself with mercenaries who serve their purposes in the group thanks to their unique fighting styles and abilities to win battles. The one person who caught my eye was Atalanta played by Ingrid Bolsø Berdal. She came across as a beautiful fearless warrior with similar features to a young Nicole Kidman. She wasn’t able to get a lot of screen time, kinda like the rest of the cast, because the Rock seems to be in every shot through the movie. I know he’s the star of the movie but there has to be a limit!
The only positive I took away from the film, besides the Rock with a full head of hair, is the battle scenes. These scenes are actually not that bad considering it’s supposed to be an epic Greek/Roman war movie with ancient looking props. The extras do a fantastic job of giving and taking blows whether it be with fists, battle axes, or bow and arrows. The film isn’t great overall but the battle scenes were pretty cool.
my final thoughts: Hercules was one of two big movies released this weekend and I’d warn you against paying full price to watch it. If you skip this movie you’re not missing much but if you do have your heart set on seeing the Rock lay the smack down, go watch on cheap Tuesday.
my star rating: 4 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 64% out 100%
rogerebert.com: 1 out 4