DWAYNE JOHNSON IAN MCSHANE JOHN HURT RUFUS SEWELL JOSEPH FIENNES
This isn’t the first time Hollywood has delivered two films of the same type in the same year: Armageddon and Deep Impact, Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love. 2014 marks the first time two mainstream films have Hercules in the title. Back in January Kellan Lutz was the half god in The Legend of Hercules, which made almost everyone’s worst of the year list, including mine. Despite his Twilight fans, Lutz didn’t have the star power Johnson aka The Rock has, and while this is certainly a version of Hercules we haven’t seen before, it could have been called something entirely different and still had the same effect.
Hercules (Johnson) has fled Athens along with his posse, including longtime supporters Amphiaraus (McShane), who can predict the future. They are summoned by Lord Cotys (Hurt) as mercenaries to help defeat Rhesus (Tobias Santelmann), who is burning villages in the kingdom Thrace. Men all over the world have heard the stories of the great Hercules, who defeated serpents, beasts and even a giant lion that he still wears as a hood. Hercules makes no claim to be the son of Zeus as legend tells, but he doesn’t stop his nephew from embellishing the stories to help defeat their enemies. Now Hercules and his group must train the Thrace townspeople and prepare for battle.
With director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, X-Men: The Last Stand) at the helm, you must prepare yourself for a certain amount of stupidity. Combined with Johnson, who is always cast for his brawn and never his brains, this is a film about violence, butt kicking and moments that encourage the audience to cheer for things that were never earned. The one element that makes it a better film than the Lutz version is that it doesn’t take itself seriously. Johnson all but winks to the camera anytime his godly heritage is debated. The film is never without comedic moments to lighten the dark mood and, thankfully, the predictable battle sequences don’t last very long.
This isn’t your fairytale Hercules; this is more like a Gladiator Hercules who is sporting a beard. It isn’t about legends or gods, but a man gifted with strength and a moral compass. While he might look like a grown up version of Bam Bam from the Flintstones, Johnson and his leather mini skirt drive through the plot at an accelerated speed. The large amounts of dialogue and two fight sequences don’t really make a whole movie, but this is about entertainment, 3D special effects and forgetting what you thought you knew about Hercules at the door.
Final Thought – With the bar set extremely low by The Legend of Hercules, this version manages to portray the hero is an alternative light.
By: Dustin Chase