Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hercules (2014) Movie Review - Adequate Lite Entertainment

Hercules is directed by Bret Ratner known for the Rush Hour comedies and X-Men: The Last Stand.   It tells a new story of Hercules beyond the familiar myth. The story picks up after Hercules legendary 12 labors.  The events of the 12 labors are quickly glossed over in a montage that recaps of events leading up to the events in the film.  Hercules is the leader of a small band of fighters.  His wandering band of mercenaries are basically bounty hunters.  They have an assortment of hard to pronounce and hard to remember Greek names.  Hercules and his crew meet with great success as swords for hire but he remains haunted by the mystery behind the death of his beautiful wife and children.  He is hired by the king of a local city to help deal with an army of marauders that threaten to take over his kingdom.  Hercules must face this challenge by training the cities inexperienced army and leading them against an evil army that greatly out numbers them.  Hercules primary tactic that he imparts to the soldiers he's training involves the importance of forming a wall of shields.  "Nothing can defeat a shield wall."  Really?  Nothing?

This movie is not a fantasy film in the tradition of Clash Of The Titans or Sinbad.  Everything that happens is presented as the truth behind the legend.  It's the "real" story of Hercules.   It's as if someone decided that the interesting mythical adventures of Hercules' have been told too often and now is the time that we should see the less interesting true story of the mortal Hercules.   It lacks depth or compelling story telling.  The events portrayed in the film should be engaging but they come across as cartoonish.  No one appears to be in serious danger.  We don't know any of the characters well enough to care about them.  This is an all too common problem in films.  They rush right past the characters and directly into the action as if today's audience has an attention deficit.  Hercules succeeds in most of his endeavors far too easily.  The problem may also be due in part to the PG-13 rating.   An R rating would have allowed for more realistic battle violence.  It comes across as a PG rated Conan The Barbarian.  It has a bigger budget and is slicker looking but it isn't nearly as interesting to watch.  Hollywood finds itself in a difficult position.  On the one hand it wants to tell interesting stories for adults but it also needs to sell lots of tickets.  Rated R movies don't make as much money and with big stars come big budgets so we rarely see these types of films with an R rating anymore. It's hard to imagine John MiliusConan The Barbarian or Road Warrior rated PG.
The movie has a great look and feel and a cast of excellent actors that give their all.  Dwayne Johnson and John Hurt are good as always.

The film is available in IMAX and 3D but watching in 3D adds very little to this film.  Hercules is adequate lite entertainment appropriate for ages 12 and up.

Burn, Rent, or Buy?   Rent it.
PG-13 1h 38m - Adventure/Action

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