On Tuesday while watching The Purge: Anarchy with friends I was invited to a “midnight” showing of Hercules starring the Rock. I couldn’t get the words out fast enough “No, but thanks.” For some reason, from the moment I saw the preview I was disinterested. Perhaps I’ve been so spoiled by films like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Snowpiercer that a silly big budget Greek tale with a samoan front man seemed boring. I realize, while watching a movie about a fictitious half man half Greek god it’s silly to get hung up on the actors Samoan heritage, but… I did. To be fair Hercules was no where near as terrible as I expected, but it wasn’t what I wanted. Unfortunately, I have very persistent friends, the rest is history, Greek History, get it?
Hercules is based on the Graphic novel The Thracian Wars (2009) written by Steve Moore and is set roughly 3,200 years ago in ancient Greece. Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) is a formidable hero in stature and ability, it’s easy to see how legends come from this man. From the films opening sequence we are given glimpses of the many “labors” Hercules has overcome to become the revered half man / half god we all loved in the TV show the Legend of Hercules starring Kevin Serbo circa 1995. However, unlike the TV show, Hercules is not a loan traveler but travels with a band of misfits as hired mercenaries working for the highest bidder. Why would Hercules need to work with other people you say? Good question! This is the one element of this story that I found very compelling: the grounded story of how legend of Hercules is born. From the opening sequence you notice something is off about Hercules but you’re not sure what and the pay off to that mystery I found to be pretty satisfying.
Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules is a far more interesting and gritty take on the half man / half god than the Fabioesque do gooder played by Serbo.
Sadly though, I can’t say the same for most of the movie. The action sequences were a lot of fun though, often laughable. Several times during the epic battle scenes I found myself laughing, I don’t believe these were laughs the director Brett Ratner (X3, Horrible Bosses) intended. Hercules’ crew were formidable fighters but I just didn’t care about them. That to me is a huge problem. If you were to remove any of the main characters from Lord of the Rings the film would have seemed empty, not so with Hercules. Any of these characters could have died and I wouldn’t have blinked. Perhaps I’m just jaded. That’s not to say it’s all bad there were a couple times the movie zigged when I expected a zag which was nice, but overall I was not invested in this story so even those big reveals felt weak.
This is an epic action movie and that means a lot of violence. There are several large scale action sequences, though not much blood, that may be to intense for young viewers. There are also two scenes with brief side and rear nudity. For a more in depth rundown of the film’s content be sure to check out the IMDB Parent’s Guide.
Hercules is a fun movie that I’m sure fans of quirky action epics will enjoy it simply wasn’t for me. What about you? What did you think of the legend of Hercules? Will you watch it? Leave a comment below!