Hercules (2014)

Action, Adventure
Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Rufus Sewell
Having endured his legendary twelve labors, 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.
Hercules has Brett Ratner behind the cameras and Dwayne Johnson rocking the loincloth -- and delivers exactly what any reasonable person reading that description might expect.
  • Paramount Pictures Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 25 Jul 2014 Released:
  • 04 Nov 2014 DVD Release:
  • $72.7M Box office:

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Trailer:

More Braun than Brain5/10
Look, I know going into a Brett Ratner film starring The Rock as Hercules shouldn't have expectations high, but I expected more from this. Right from the start of the film we are immersed into a world without character development and rushed story telling.

The action scenes are all very well shot (by PG-13 standards) but everything else is subpar. Besides Dwayne Johnson most performers range from hammy to awkward, and the special effects are nothing special.

If you are capable of 100% turning your brain off, I'm talking Transformers level, you may be able to enjoy this film. But all others need not give this myth any more life.
Gets better after 20 minutes, tries to be different6/10
Firstly, the film has a slow start. We see almost motion comic footage of Hercules doing his 12 labours in slideshow form, with Hercules face hidden in silhouette. So I felt a little cheated. Then we have a scene which tries to set up what makes this version of the main character different than any other version we have seen before. I wont give it away, as its basically what the film is about. But it tries to play with our knowledge of him.

It doesn't ignore the back story of his wife and kids, but glosses over those parts until it becomes necessary to divulge that information. Again, i think it would have been better to see it, rather than be told what happened. I knew his history and so was wondering if they would portray this properly. Instead they do something to set-up a villain for the end which I wont give away. Just know that they do tie up all lose ends as needed, but a prior knowledge of who this character is and what he has done does help the viewer understand his motivations and his life up to this point.

Its when the big war starts that you really sit up and start paying attention. Somehow watching the Rock talk doesn't interest you, but when the fighting starts with the epic 200 people battle sequences, you suddenly see where the budget went, the fights are fantastic!

What is really great is how Hercules and his band of merry men (and woman) use smarts to outwit the enemy rather than simply use strength each time. That was clever. From the moment of that first fight the film moves up a notch and becomes excellent entertainment.

Its a historical film and tries to be serious about its overall message. Dwayne does a good job but he's not going to win any awards for this. The other cast members actions are predictable and sufficient. But don't really add much to the plot. They could have been written out and it would have changed nothing.

The running length is long enough to feel satisfied and not so long that it overstays its welcome. The plot twists you see coming a mile away but at least it tries to do them. Other than one characters actions near the end which was so obvious it was stupid to include.

In conclusion, its worth watching. It takes it times to grab you, but once it does it doesn't let go. There are a few stretches of how strong Hercules is, but not enough for you to hate it. The 3D has its moments, but like most films I would rather have watched it in 2D as I don't think it made a major difference and its more comfortable not having to wear those glasses with my head upright the entire time.
Another case of false advertising7/10
Hercules and chums are mercenaries, pressed into service for Lord Cotys to put down a rebel uprising which looks likely to overthrow the throne.

The trailer teases this movie as being a myths and monsters movie: it isn't. It's a fairly routine swords and sandals actioner, and the mythical critters teased in the trailer all come before the opening title, and are either tall tales depicted, or things seen unclearly from a distance. What is left is a rather dark film with a lot of battle action, pitched uneasily at a level which is too graphic for family viewing and not graphic enough for those who like blood and dismemberment.

There is a single F word - unnecessary and out of place.

Dwayne Johnson does this stuff well - he looks good, has great physical presence and, even when the part is somewhat darker than usual, he remains very likable. The supporting cast are all quite good - it was interesting to see Rufus Sewell playing a goodie for once (kind of like a young Ian McShane even though McShane was also in the film, with all the best moments of humour), and John Hurt gets to play both ends of the spectrum, meek and scenery-chewing.

I quite liked this - it is certainly a lot better than this year's previous Hercules offering - but felt that it was a missed opportunity: they promised me monsters and then didn't deliver them!
A Self-aware, Hilarious Summer Flick8/10
I went to see Hercules with little to no expectations. The main reason was that I needed some cheesy summer flick to laugh at, and the movie's trailer did promise this kind of stuff. Well, the movie did not disappoint - indeed, it was cheesy, but in such a self-aware way, that it falls out of the "so bad that it's good" category and gets into the "simply good" one. Irony is dominant through the whole 98 minutes, and there are plenty of minor and major plot twists, albeit not a single forced one. And the story is delivered in an entertaining way without any unnecessary melodrama or heroism - a nice change from most of Hollywood big-budget action flicks.

The movie opens directly with the story of Hercules and the twelve labours. We see him battle the Lernaean Hydra, slay the Erymanthian Boar, and kill the Nemean Lion with bare hands - and that's in the first two minutes. Just when you'd think this flick would be nothing but Dwayne Johnson, bare-chested and tough, slaughtering stuff, it's revealed that the narrator is actually the nephew of Hercules, exaggerating the story of his uncle, trying to convince a bunch of pirates not to execute him by putting a stake through his bottoms. There are plenty of similar absurd situations in the movie, and there's never a pun to fall flat.

Character-wise, "Hercules" offers more than a bunch of heroes with big muscles and tear-jerking back-stories. While Hercules' family being murdered plays somewhat big part in the movie, the drama never feels forced (if anything, it actually feels a bit underwhelming). Also, I do have problems with Atalanta being the typical strong female action character but this isn't as much of a drawback - just something that could've been improved. All actors, from the cheesy Johnson and Fiennes to veteran John Hurt, reprise their roles in a great, fleshed-out way. The main antagonist of "Hercules" is indeed portrayed a wee bit over-the-top, but after all this is a comic adaptation and that's the proper way to portray comic villains.

The story doesn't disappoint either, presenting Hercules as a man with incredible strength who enjoys the rumors of him being the son of Zeus while being self-aware that he's still a mercenary who is most likely born to a mortal father. The legend of Hercules itself plays a large part in the story, and serves for a source of great jokes and puns. There's a major plot twist that I honestly didn't see coming, and neither did any of my friends with whom I saw the movie. "Hercules" receives bonus points for NOT including the obligatory love interest, and there's actually a reason for the main character to return for the final act (other than "he's the hero and it's heroes' job to safe the day").

Unlike most fantasy action-adventures, "Hercules" uses special effects sparsely and mostly for the scenery. Apart from the opening sequence, Hercules never has to battle absurdly huge foes or mythical creatures. The only moment he's fighting a CGI enemy did actually leave me a bit disappointed, but it was still OK. The writers creatively decided to go against the "overpowered supernatural creatures" cliche and instead opted for a huge army of ordinary men. It does emphasize Hercules' superhuman strength a lot more when you see a horse being thrown into the air, instead of a harpy or the minotaur being slain.

All in all, "Hercules" is a great movie to spend ten bucks on this summer. It doesn't break the boundaries of modern fantasy adventure flicks, but it does go against a lot of the tropes and cliches. It delivers an entertaining story while being self-aware of its own cheesiness. While I'm not familiar with the source material, "Hercules" does remind a little bit of "Asterix and Obelix" and provides solid 98 minutes of pure Hollywood entertainment, comedy and carnage.

8/10
Try The New and Improved"Hercules"! Now Completely 'Mythology' Free!2/10
If you're a fan of the Mythology of Hercules in any way, shape or form and expect to see it in this film, you will be sorely disappointed. This film has pulled a complete "World-War-Z" and left absolutely EVERYTHING about the original mythology out except for the fact that it is called "Hercules".

But what about all that awesome trailer footage? You know, of Hercules and his amazing feats of heroism? Surprise! Nothing but trailer fodder that is all over in the first 2 minutes of the film. The main focus and theme of the film is how Hercules is NOT the Hercules from myth and legend. So right off the bat the trailer has straight up lied to you.

But don't worry, what they leave out from the actual mythology of Hercules they more than make up for in plot points that are VERY BLATANTLY stolen from every other medieval/ancient era epic film made in the last 20 years. Everything from beginning the film with the ever popular "you think you know the story of Hercules? Here's the REAL story of Hercules" narrative, to timeless cliche classics like "sidekick leaves due to differing views but returns during climactic battle to save the day".

Even if you aren't looking for a true-to-its-roots Hercules movie, this movie is so completely generic you could substitute just about any other epic of the same genre and you'd swear it was the same movie. Right down to the costumes and battle sequences. The story is painfully predictable, the jokes are hammy and don't fit the tone of the genre, the characters are stock, wooden and forgettable, the fight scenes are boring, the action is unsatisfying.

Bottom line, if you aren't a Hercules fan looking for actual Hercules action then you'll be less disappointed than I, but I would still recommend skipping it and saving your money by simply watching Troy/Braveheart/Kingdom of Heaven/Beowulf/Robin Hood/300 instead; the experience will be the same, I promise. However, if you have ever enjoyed the mythology of Hercules and want to see some of it brought to life then this is not the film for you. It is the cinematic equivalent of biting into a chocolate chip cookie only to find out they're actually raisins.