Brett Ratner’s Hercules may be big, dumb and predictable but it’s a hell of a fun ride. Given we’ve had several films (one of which was released earlier this year) and a television series to explore the hulking hero’s work, I was surprised to see yet another incarnation hit the big screen so soon. Luckily this version manages to put enough of a twist on the tale to warrant its existence.
Having completed his twelve fabled tasks, Hercules roams the land as a sword-for-hire. He’s accompanied by a small band of warriors who not only fight by his side but more importantly help keep the ‘legend’ of Hercules alive and well, since it’s great for business. After years of fighting, Hercules is all set to retire, when he is lured into one final job, helping the King of Thrace quash an evil warlord. Hercules is forced to look deep into his soul and decide if he is the stuff of myth or legend …
This film works primarily because it doesn't take itself too seriously. Too many blockbusters of late have been kind of depressing. Films like Godzilla, 47 Ronin, Man of Steel
and even Star Trek Into Darkness
whilst visually pleasing kind of forgot to be fun, which isn't that the point of these types of films? Hercules hit that sweet spot for me where the film is kind of winking at the audience without ever descending into farce. Director Brett Ratner has somewhat of a chequered past when it comes to blockbusters; for every Rush Hour
there’s an X-Men: Last Stand
, that being said his style suited this project. The action set pieces are well choreographed, two of which are battle sequences set during the day time which for me is always more impressive. With hundreds if not thousands of combatants duking it out, the battles had an intensity that I wasn't expecting. Smartly the film clips along at such a pace, it doesn't allow you to dwell on how silly it is, a practice I’d like to see adopted by other films of this ilk.
Dwayne ‘Don’t call me the Rock’ Johnson is in his element playing Hercules, but let’s be honest he’s basically playing the same role in just about every film nowadays. I’d love to see him doing something with a touch more dramatic weight about it, but I guess he’s got to capitalise on his body while he can still achieve the physique that he’s renowned for. The supporting cast is chock-full of characters actors such as John Hurt, Ian McShane and Rufus Sewell all of whom look like they had a ball making this film. Ingrid Bolso Berdal is fabulous as the Amazonian warrior Atalanta; she has great presence on screen and can more than handle herself when it comes to fisty-cuffs. Rebecca Ferguson plays Ergenia, heir to the Thrace throne, whilst she misses out on the action set pieces, she raised the stakes emotionally, which is just as important in film like this. I rather enjoyed her performance. I appreciated the fact that the women of this story weren’t simply swept aside whilst the men did everything, well played Hercules
This is your perfect lazy Friday night film after a long week and maybe an ale or two. It’s a little bit silly at times but I’m sure if you set your expectations accordingly you’ll be pleasantly surprised. You know what the Rock’s cooking and you know you can’t resist it.
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