We now find ourselves in a rather awkward situation where two copycat films are released. Earlier this year we were punished with the not-so-legendary Legend of Hercules, and now we see this simply title Hercules hitting theatres. This is incredibly unusual, normally this situation consists of two films with similar subject matters or setting like Antz and A Bug’s Life, or Armageddon and Deep Impact. But now we see two identical stories released within just a few months of each other. It’s not as if you can find massively different ways to interpret this tale without drastically straying from your source material.
With one studio failing to tell the story how can this one do any better? Well this is a question we were all asking so we might as well start now as it is already chewing its way through both the US and UK charts. Hercules is exactly what you would expect it to be, especially given that it’s a film directed by Brett Ratner and starring Dwayne Johnson. But I can safely say that this is almost certainly Ratner’s best film to date, perhaps even better than Rush Hour. Admittedly this doesn’t have the pop cultured status and also lacks Jackie Chan. But nevertheless this is a rather nice blend of action and quick paced storytelling.
It’s the surprise more than anything that makes this a good film. The action is original if not a little simple, similarly to the story itself. The same can be said for the acting, I am still struggling to think of why Johnson was picked over a selection of more talented actors for the lead role. But the Rock gives a satisfying performance as this tortured hero desperate for redemption.
As well as this the direction of the film is also well-choreographed. Ratner’s style of directing suits this kind of film, quite humorous, action packed and entertaining overall. The big budget is used very well, it’s easy to see where and how it was spent and unlike too many action films all of the effects and stunts seem necessary both to the plot and entertainment value. Speaking of which, the effects are amazing and the 3D technology is utilized really well, we would really go as far to say that almost in a negative way as Hercules loses a lot of its effect as a 2D film.
There are a few problems of course, this is a very easy-going film. It’s far from edge of your seat stuff as it may have been advertised as. It also seems overly frantic and doesn’t properly display the character development that is potentially there. And the biggest issue by a mile is the constant change between campy over-the-top style and the gritty serious attempts to toughen this story up. It makes for a slightly shambolic style in which not only the acting but the entire tone of the film changes every couple of minutes.
The script is also rather predictable, honestly the lines begin to feel like de ja vu because you’ve subconsciously formulated a response to the last piece of dialogue in your head before it’s been said on the screen. With so many films that do what Hercules has attempted to do within the same target audience (only much better) this summer such as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy we can’t really imagine why anyone would pay to see this in the cinema.
But anyway, this is certainly a pleasant surprise that offers you a light hearted action packed trip into the sword and sandals genre. Maybe if you hate all forms of science fiction… or you have already seen the bigger summer blockbusters and still haven’t successfully scratched that action itch. I promise you, even if you’re expectations are hideously low you will be pleasantly surprised.
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