Hercules (2014)

Just in case you missed out on the first Hercules film of 2014 – you know the one starring Kellan Lutz that was a disastrous flop- you do have another opportunity in seeing the Greek demigod on screen. This time around comes an even bigger and bolder retelling of the Hercules mythology. Based on Radical Comics’ “Hercules: The Thracian Wars” by the late great Steve Moore, the film follows Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) after preserving through his iconic twelve labors. Now, the Greek demigod lives his life by the sword. Becoming a mercenary, he finally meets his first true challenge when the King Cotys of Thrace (John Hurt) and his daughter desperately need his help in trying to defeat a dangerous warlord. Can Hercules be victorious once again, or will the warlord become a legend killer?

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in Hercules

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Hercules

“Hercules” finds its director, Brett Ratner, at his most self-indulgent. The film oozes with testosterone and features many elements that will classify this film as a fun, dumb film. It is definitely fast-paced, and has enough plot and personality to keep the movie powering forward. However, the movie mostly only offers simplistic action sequences that is sometimes great fun and other times a little mind-numbing. There are plenty of battles, bloodshed, and stylish violence that is clearly reminiscent of “300”. Brett Ratner doesn’t aim to recreate a genre or reinvent a specific style; instead, Ratner’s style and vision aims to make the story, action, and characters of “Hercules” more accessible and teen-friendly. This makes for a mostly fun popcorn flick that never takes itself too seriously, and because of the spirit of the adventure “Hercules” proves it can be a fun ride.

On the downside, “Hercules” has a watered-down plot, forgettable characters, bad acting, and too many cheesy, cliche moments. Sadly the film doesn’t strictly adhere to the mythology of Hercules. Screenwriters, Ryan Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos, are more concern with how to stage an all too familiar battle rather than truly enriching the story with intellectual material from the source material, or even from the other different Hercules’ stories. This handicaps the film and prevents it from being truly rewarding. In fact, this turns “Hercules” into a film that is meant purely for shallow entertainment and not that much else. What “Hercules” does right is casting the always charismatic and likable Dwayne Johnson as the Greek demigod. Johnson is here to entertain you and he does this by providing what he does best, which is bringing his athleticism and enthusiasm to the many different action sequences. “Hercules” is simply at its best when they have Johnson unleashed.

“Hercules” is a movie that can be easily enjoyed if you just accept the ridiculousness that comes with it. Knowing that this is a Brett Ratner directed film that stars the Rock wearing a lion head and has him punching a wolf in the face, “Hercules” never tries to be something it is not. It delivers exactly what you expect it would. It could have been a lot better, but you could also do a lot worse- just ask Kellan Lutz.

The cast includes: Dwayne Johnson (Pain and Gain), Ian McShane (Snow White and the Huntsman), John Hurt (Alien), Rufus Sewell (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), and Joseph Fiennes (Enemy at the Gate). It was written by Ryan Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos. It was directed by Brett Ratner (Tower Heist).

2 out of 4 stars

-By Louie Coruzzolo

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