July 28, 2014
In this latest film with the Greek hero in the title, Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) is shown to be a mercenary for hire, who uses his mythic demigod origins and legendary "labors" to advertise himself. He has with him his band of cohorts, the loyal Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), the mad fighter Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), the Amazon archer Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), the young storyteller Iolaus (Reece Ritchie) and the seer Amphiaraus (Ian McShane).
Using his beautiful daughter Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson) as emissary, the king of Thrace, Cotys (John Hurt), hires Hercules to beef up his army against the attacks of vicious centaurs led by Rhesus (Tobias Santellman). However, ulterior motives and political ambitions are soon revealed such that Hercules had to dig deep into himself in order to break free of the nightmares that haunt him and draw out the real hero in him.
When I saw the trailer with the hydra, boar and lion, I thought this Hercules film would be tackling the legendary labors of this Greek hero. So despite the fact that I found Dwayne Johnson's Hercules hairstyle very awkward-looking, we still went to watch it, in 3D no less. I was disappointed that this "labors" sequence would be over and done with in the first few minutes of the film. The rest of the film was just like a "sword- and-sandal" version of the "A-Team" as Hercules and his merry men fight their way to earn their weight in gold. I had not read the graphic novel by Steve Moore on which this film was based, "Hercules: The Thracian Wars," so I had no prior inkling as to what this film would be about.
Despite the story, the action sequences were quite good though. There was that very long battle sequence with graphic close-up violence which looked more realistic than the stylized battles in the "300" films. Director Brett Ratner is known for his action films (like "Rush Hour" and "X-Men: The Last Stand") and his skills show in these big exciting scenes. The 3D effects were also very good and worth its extra price, with all the arrows, spears and debris hurtling out at us as we watched. The cinematography, film- and sound-editing and visual effects were also well-done.
Dwayne Johnson could not seem to get himself into the period. Even if he is wearing those ancient warrior costumes, he speaks and acts as if he was in the present day. You can't deny his good-guy charisma though. Of his partners, Ian McShane stands out as the prophet Amphiaraus. He figures in the single LOL-moment in the film, which was really came at the most welcome moment to break the grim monotony. It was good to see Joseph Fiennes back on the big screen after a long absence, albeit for a short role. He plays King Eurystheus of Greece, with whom Hercules had a major falling out.
In the technical aspects, this is still better than the Kellan Lutz film "Legend of Hercules" we saw earlier this year. Overall, mindless popcorn that it is, "Hercules" was still an entertaining action film aimed to get our adrenaline going. And that it does. 6/10.