#51 HERCULES 3D Starring Dywanne Johnson, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Rufus Sewell, Peter Mullen, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Aksel Hennie and Joseph Fiennes.
Directed by Brett Ratner 98 merciful minutes short.
This is a What If version of the legend of Hercules, the 'What If' being, what if Hercules was a real man and the 12 tasks could be explained away, along with all the seemingly supernatural elements of the legend and he was a real man?
Based on the comic book by Steve Moore, this is a entertaining enough movie and a million miles away from the spate of Hollywood's, recent sword and sandals 'epics'. It stars the always likeable Dywanne (The Rock) Johnson who, as always, brings his own bodyweight in screen presence along to the proceedings.
Oddly enough, despite the title this isn't a one man band film, it's a team movie - like Ocean's 11 (A Hercules 6, if you will) but without the hi-tech heist elements, the Las Vagas setting, the David Holmes funky soundtrack or the band of laconically cool thieves, confidence tricksters and rogues. Instead we get a band of warriors made up of an aged, spear-juggling soothsayer - who knows how he will die, not when (the always good value, Ian McShane). The young story teller - eager for a fight, but prevented at every turn by his over-protective uncle. The grizzled old friend (Rufus Sewell) - who's been his loyal friend since childhood. The silent berserker maniac - who never speaks (accept for one single solitary word can you get what it'll be?). Oh, and the lithe Amazonian warrior (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) - with the limitless supply of arrows for her long bow. Set 350 years, or so, BC the film follows the exploits of Hercules after he's done the legendary 12 Tasks while he's doing a World Tour with his band, all looking forward to that one last payday until they can retire and live like kings. He's racked by dreadful nightmares of the death and slaughter of his family and he's frightened of the one Task he never finished - battling the dreaded Cerberus at the gates of Hades. This film has action and adventure aplenty but because it's a 12A no teeth, no gore, and no nudity. Take my word for it, this is no Conan The Barbarian! It does, however, have a lot of violence, lots of sword fighting and lots of death, it just lacks bite or grittiness and any gouts of blood spurting off in slow mo or limbs lopped off.
I have to say I struggled with this for quite a while, I wanted to like it but it wasn't until well into the second half that I finally found myself enjoying it. There's a lot of earnest discussions and impossible to spell names bandied about when all you want is for Herc (as his friends call him) to smack something really hard, but when he does it's fab. The film's plot takes a not-unexpected twist, pantomime-like turn in the 3rd act and yet by that stage it's got you hooked and you don't mind one bit. This is a fun enough picture and I was impressed it tried so hard to ditch the over-blown CGI mythological bollocks of similar films like Clash of the Tit Ants, The Immortals or Noah and instead tried to demythtify the legend. it's an interesting approach and presents us more with the Magnificent 7 in Ancient Thrace than one lone man of muscle as previous Hercules films have been.
I was expecting Dwanne's Hercules to be more ripped to the tits than he was, but the Rock just wasn't rippling in muscle, sure he's big alright but he's no certainly no Steve Reeves.
Anyway, I saw this in 3D so it was quite a gloomy looking and at times quite dark, affair, but there was plenty of stuff thrown at the screen and at times it was rather fun. The action sequences are impressive and thankfully it didn't outstay its welcome with a blessedly brief running time of just 98 minutes, thank Zeus! Not horrible or terrible and certainly not as crushingly disappointing as say Clash of the Tit Ants 1 or 2, and a hell of a lot more enjoyable than Transformers 4: Age of Extinction.
Now all together. War! Huuu! What is it good for? Establishing order in an ancient world riven by strife and civil unrest under the machinations of a despotic megalomaniacal ruler. Say it again y'all!