Review: “Hercules” Rocks It

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, this has been a year where we have received not one, but two films based upon the the Greek demi-god Hercules. The first starred everybody’s third favorite “Twilight” vampire Kellan Lutz as the bronzed adonis. It came out in January, it was critically panned, made no money and nobody cared. 

So why would Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson, the most electrifying man in entertainment take on such a hollow role? Well, to work with Brett Ratner, (“Tower Heist”) a director whose films are cheesy enough to cover Hollywood like it’s a Nachos Bell Grande from Taco Bell.

The film opens with a less than appealing voice-over by Iolaus, (Reece Ritchie) Hercules’ nephew and professional raconteur. He explains the legend of his bruting hero through elaborate parables of his exploits from slaying the Hydra, to defeating a lion with an impenetrable hide. 

The legend of Hercules is inflated by the wide-eyed nephew. It is never quite clear if Hercules is actually the son of Zeus, a novel concept that proves to be a clever device for the film. Iolaus boasts of Hercules from city, to city, but as we see him tell several stories until it becomes like a game of telephone, we really don’t know what to believe. 

The band of warriors that Hercules put together has been prospering for many years working as mercenaries, but are on the verge of parting ways to live out their days in peace. But, one last score gets in the way, by helping the Thracian king Lord Cotys (John Hurt) who needs a hand protecting his kingdom. Hercules’ makeshift gang of compatriots add some interesting fluff to the a film that appeared to lack any notable characters. These include his  life-long friend and former street rat Autolycus, (Rufus Sewell) half-man, half feral animal Theban Tydeus, (Aksel Hennie) archer Atalanta (Ingrid Bolso) and the prophet who regularly mis-predicts his own death Amphiaraus (Ian McShane). 

The otherwise indistinguishable directorial stylings of Ratner prove to be orchestrated with the poise of an experienced filmmaker. This is by no means an omission that Ratner is a skilled filmmaker, even though he did direct the above average Hannibal Lector vehicle “Red Dragon.” He directs the set pieces with coherent editing and solid visuals thats brings out the best of all parties involved. 

The majority of the film’s cleverness should be credited to the screenwriters Ryan Condal and Evan Sliliotopoulous who develop the characters just enough for the audience to grab a hold of their traits, care just enough to make it through the brisk 99 minute run time and leave the theater with a slight smile. 

In summation “Hercules” is by no means a great summer blockbuster. Perhaps it would have fared slightly better if it were release in an off month. The mecca of all film review sites Rotten Tomatoes astutely concluded this about Ratner’s version of Hercules, “ Hercules has Brett Ratner behind the cameras and Dwayne Johnson rocking the loincloth–and delivers exactly what any reasonable person reading this description might expect.” If nothing else see “Hercules” for the simple fact that “The Rock” throws a horse. 

 

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