Director: Brett Ratner
Writers: Ryan J. Condal (screenplay by), Evan Spiliotopoulos (screenplay by)
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane
Plot: Having endured his legendary twelve labours, 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.
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 59% Audience 48%
Why I Watched It: To be honest, I saw this on iTunes, it was on sale to rent for $1.99, and I had forgotten this was even made, I saw it and was like oh yeah, it does have a very good cast as well.
Random Thoughts: Sword and Sandal movies are tricky at best one would say they’re a forgotten or even dead genre but much like the Western every once in awhile a studio will through one out. Now I grew up on these movies, my mother was a fan so I saw a ton of these, some cheesy some very good, I even saw Gladiator in the theatre with my mother. Like I said she was a fan of the genre. Now with that being said Hercules is kind of done to death and really the character is kind of bland and cliched now. With that being said if any modern actor was born to play Hercules it’s Dwayne Johnson.
What I Liked: Two things really surprised me was one-It has a very good cast and a league of nations of actors here, two of my favourite British actors Ian McShane and John Hurt, and I’ve always liked Rufus Sewell and it’s nice to see him play a good guy. Two-They did do something different, these is a team movie, a group a band of warriors not just Hercules sure he’s the lead but it did breathe some new life into the character. Also introducing the myth and legend part was smart, a tad meta but it was a different way of looking at it. So they ask was Hercules really Hercules as we were told or was the legend bigger than the man.
The acting here is very good for this type of movie and the acting alone keeps it from being a dumb B-Movie, nothing wrong with that but this is done better and the actors are in gauged. There’s one seen that would seem standard and over the top, the tea is captured and the evil bad guys are threatening to kill Rebeca Ferguson, now you have her trying to save her sons life, John Hurt screaming vile things, Dwayne Johnson trying to tear down giant pillars and Ian McShayne speaking calmly to Hercules, it’s a scene on paper I would roll my eyes but everyone is so good the scene really worked and that shocked me. I really liked the film and that scene brought it home for me. I Want to point out this was before The Mission Impossible movie Rebecca Ferguson was in so she wasn’t as well known in North America but I really like here, she can play cool but she’s not cold she’s likeable and she has a real presence on screen. I also liked seeing Ingrid Bolso Berdal who was also very good but didn’t have enough to do.
The action was good and for me the best part was the team element, breaking cliches here they don’t show us the team being formed they’re already together and we learn their stories.
What I Didn’t Like: The effects were iffy at times and did take me out of the film at times, some of the monsters looked cheap and some of the fire and effects took away from the action, clearly they paid the actors more than the special effect team. Say what you want about Brett Ratner, I will stick to him as a director, he’s sometimes called a hack and sometimes worse for me he’s a director for hire and is fine but a better director could have raised the bar a bit. The only other nitpick, they do a twist that you see coming a mile away and kind of made the team look a little bit dumb and also the casting of Joseph Fiennes kind of told us what is character would become, look you see him for like five minutes you know he’s coming back to play a bigger part.
Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed it, a very fun popcorn movie, it caught me up in the action and characters and I enjoyed it.