Hercules Review

7/25/2014 Unknown 0 Comments

Hercules takes place years after Hercules has completed his 12 labors and tells a story of a now exiled legend who has become a sword for hire that takes advantage of his (questionably exaggerated) reputation to put fear into his enemies, attract potential employers, or to conveniently solve any other problem that crosses his path.

Haunted by his past, he has gathered a company of fellow heroes in search of gold, while he also seeks to find his own redemption.  After he's approached by the King of Thrace to help train and lead the Thracian army against a dangerous enemy, Hercules and his band accept the opportunity for a big pay day, only to find that his past is quickly catching up with him

I hadn't seen a whole lot of marketing for Hercules, but from what I knew about it, I wasn't expecting much.  It seemed to be in the vein of Immortals or Wrath of the Titans, falling short of something like 300, however, I found I was very pleasantly surprised with the final product.

Hercules is a movie that knows its range and stays well within it.  Brett Ratner does a phenomenal job of pushing every moment of the 98 minute runtime to the limit without over extending.  This movie doesn't try to be anything more than it is and the execution is nearly perfect.

Not to say the movie itself is perfect in its entirety.  The plot tells a very formulaic story derived from the standard hero's journey and the characters are very one dimensional, but none of those elements are stretched so far that they begin to break.

The short runtime allows Brett Ratner to keep a nice clipping pace and I never once got bored or looked at my watch.  The audience in my screening also responded phenomenally.  The one liners and hard hitting action got extended applause from the crowd on multiple occasions.

Despite the relatively shallow characters and wooden acting all around, humor was very effectively sewn in throughout and many jokes (especially the re-occuring jokes) were very successful.  I was not expecting to laugh at all going in to this movie, but found it was a borderline comedy that could stand alongside something like A Knight's Tale.

Not to say it was all fun and games.  The action might have been one of the most satisfying components.  Even though each character might have been written rather shallowly, they each had their own very distinct action style, and the ensemble really shined during battle.  The choreography was original, well conceived, and hard hitting, with many sequences ending with the aforementioned applause by the audience due to gratifying end to each confrontation.

The effects were mostly good, but the costumes seemed inconsistent at times.  Some characters looked a little silly, especially if they had anything going on with their hair. The actors each did their job well enough, but not too much was demanded from them.  The role of Hercules was definitely perfectly suited for Dwayne Johnson, though, even if mostly for his physical presence more-so than his acting ability.  Everyone hit the proper comedic timing and believably executed any action sequences they needed to (if it wasn't their stunt double doing the work).

I did see it in 3D, and I thought the 3D looked good and definitely contributed to the fun, but it isn't necessary.  This movie is by no means a visual spectacle.  It's perfectly suited for the small screen as well.  It's the type of movie that will do very well when it's on cable and Blu-Ray.

In the end, I think Hercules is one of the more successful movies of the year, although it's definitely not the most ambitious.  Brett Ratner set some very achievable goals and took care to hit each objective without over-reaching--which is a clear separating point between this movie and movies like Immortals, although it's still not as ambitious as something like 300.

If you've already seen Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, then I would definitely recommend this movie, otherwise, it's a great weekend to catch up on that if you haven't seen it.  This isn't something you absolutely have to rush out and see, but if you and some friends want an exciting lighthearted movie going experience, then Hercules just might hit the spot.

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