Everybody Hercs! Sometimes.
Director: Brett Ratner
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Rebecca Ferguson, and John Hurt
Plot: Hijinks ensue when Hercules and his mercenary pals get more than they bargained for when they are hired to train an army to fight a war.
Rating: PG-13 for swords and spears and bloody combat that’s not bloody enough for an R rating.
I don’t know much about the Greeks, but I am a fan of their philosophers, their yogurt, and feta cheese, which is simply smashing on a burger. Seriously. try it some time. Dee-lish.
The Greeks also had a bunch of Gods, demigods,and fantastic creatures that throughout the centuries became a huge part of popular culture. One of the most famous of the Greek mythological figures is Hercules, the half God son of Zeus who righted wrongs and performed amazing feats of strength while sporting some awesome 1980’s rocker hair.
Hercules is so popular even to this day that two movies were made in 2014 about him and his legendary journeys: The Legend of Hercules stars a guy named Kellen Lutz. The other simply titled Hercules stars DVD Critics Corner Hall of Famer and ass kicking action star Dwayne Johnson. Needless to say we’re reviewing Hercules because we like shorter titles and Dwayne Johnson is wearing a freakin lion for a freakin hat!
Hercules takes the legend of the demigod son of Zeus and tosses it out with the bathwater. Hercules (Johnson) is just a really strong mercenary travelling the world with a team of skilled warriors. Since the internet hasn’t been invented yet, Herc’s action packed exploits have spread word of mouth and have become legend across the land, and with the help of his nephew Iolus (Reece Ritchie) who acts as Herc’s PR man, some of the good but gullible people believe he may really be the son of Zeus.
Let’s face it, people will believe absolute nonsense if you let them: like alligators live in the sewers and Two and a Half Men was a good show.
Herc and his team – Amphiaraus, master spear fighter and future predictor, knife guy/wisecracker Autolicus, blonde archer chick Atalanta, mute asskicker Tydeus, and Iolus – are hired by Lord Cotys (John Hurt) of Thrace to train his depleated army to fight off neighboring warlord Rheseus who wants to take over Thrace for reasons never disclosed. Maybe Thrace is closer to the highway and has a killer beach.
Anyhoo, Herc and his pals train Coty’s troops to fight like soldiers, and soon they charge into highly choreographed battle scenes with plenty of slo mo shots and CG blood splatter made famous by 300. But truth be told I can forgive that because nobody wields a club better than than Dwayne Johnson.
Except for Bamm Bamm. That kid had skills.
Coty’s army is victorious and they return to Thrace with Lord Rheseus as a prisoner, but Hercules begins to think that Rheseus may not be the bad guy in this movie. When Coty’s daughter Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson) confirms Herc’s suspicion that her dad is a treacherous a-hole, he has a huge decision to make: take the huge pile of gold given to him or give it back and make things right in Thrace by kicking Coty’s lying butt?
Spoiler Alert! Herc’s team doesn’t get their retirement fund. But they do get to help their boss overthrow a kingdom in a bloody climactic battle which is just as good as a huge bag of gold! It is! Honest. Look, just go with me on this, we’re almost done.
In conclusion, Dwayne Johnson’s huge presence and even huger willingness to cave in a head or two elevates Hercules a few levels higher over other recent sword and sandals movies. However, I didn’t like the idea that the mythical creatures that are real in similar movies didn’t exist in this one. No Centaurs? No Cerberus? No three breasted gladiator woman with the head of a Burmese Shrike and the legs of a liger?
Okay that last one isn’t an actual mythical creature.
But it should be. I’m getting my sketchbook!