Movie Review: “Hercules” Is Good Old-Fashioned Popcorn Fare


Review by James McDonald

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.

In the X-Men universe, filmmaker Brett Ratner is universally loathed. He directed what is considered, by the hardcore fans, one of the weakest movies in the series, “X-Men: The Last Stand” but at the same time, it’s one of the highest-grossing X-Men movies to date. It seems like Mr. Ratner just can’t win. Personally, I didn’t mind the movie but then again, I’m only a passive observer who just happens to enjoy each film on its own merits. Mr. Ratner also directed the highly enjoyable “Rush Hour” trilogy so he’s no stranger when it comes to action and believe me you, “Hercules” has its fair share of excitement and adventure.

The movie starts off with a voice-over, talking about Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) and his many adventures including one cycle in particular that was known as the legendary “Twelve Labors”. During this era, he fought an assortment of colossal mythical creatures including the Nemean Lion, the Lernaean Hydra and the Stymphalian Birds. Being the son of Zeus and having received nothing but suffering his entire life because of it, Hercules turns his back on the gods and now travels the land as a sword-for-hire along with six friends, who, like him, find solace in battle and a kinship in each other that cannot be broken.

When the beautiful Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson) approaches Hercules and pleads for his help, she states that her father, Lord Cotys and King of Thrace (John Hurt), will pay them handsomely if they will train their people to become great soldiers so that they can fight back against a tyrannical ruler who is advancing towards their kingdom and will annihilate anyone and everyone in his path. Hercules and his crew agree to help and take the opportunity to focus on a people in dire need and instill into them, the traits and attributes they will need to become great warriors. When word comes that the approaching army are closer than initially thought, Hercules and his army deploy immediately.

After a swift but brutal assault on the advancing battalion, Hercules and his warriors are hailed as heroes but it’s only when they return to Thrace, that Hercules realizes Lord Cotys is not who he appears to be and it’s up to our hero and his squad to battle one more time. Director Brett Ratner has crafted a high-spirited and energetic summer movie that is pure fun and excitement with a little of everything for everyone: action and adventure, swords and sorcery, romance and intrigue. It’s what a summer movie is meant to encompass and it doesn’t disappoint. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has come a long way since his breakout role as the Scorpion King in “The Mummy Returns” in 2001.

We all know he started out in the business as a wrestler but he is charming and has undeniable screen presence and is very gracious and loyal to his fans and that’s more than I can say for many of today’s so-called superstars. “Hercules” has an assortment of wonderful character actors including John Hurt, Rufus Sewell, Ian McShane and Joseph Fiennes and when you surround yourself with such talented and proficient actors of this caliber, it makes you want to give your very best. And Mr. Johnson does exactly that.

In theaters now

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James McDonald
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