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One of the most interesting thing about mythology is considering: what people or events might have inspired legends of gods, heroes and monsters?

That question seems to have inspired "Hercules," the second movie about the Grecian strongman in less than a year... and thankfully, it involves no bleached-haired "Twilight" actors. Instead, this simple and cheesy yet action-packed story depicts a "realistic" Hercules played by the charismatic Dwayne Johnson, who is one of the few men alive who actually LOOKS like Hercules.

In this movie, Hercules (Johnson) is the leader of a band of mercenaries -- including an Amazon warrior, a thief, a feral berserker and a seer who is waiting for his death to turn up -- who take on ridiculously difficult tasks. Hercules' nephew Iolaus (Reece Ritchie) works PR for them, spreading stories of how Hercules is supposedly the offspring of Zeus, explaining his ridiculously awesome strength. The reality is a bit more tragic, as indicated in flashbacks to his pre-merc days to a wife and children who have just two days until retirement.

Then Hercules is approached by Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson), a Thracian princess whose dad Cotys (John Hurt) wants him to train his army to resist the warlord Rheseus (Tobias Santelmann). Hercules and his compatriots successfully fix up the rather pathetic army into a successful fighting force, and even lead them into battle... but soon Hercules begins to suspect that he and his followers have been tricked into being on the wrong side.

"Hercules" is a pure popcorn movie -- it has no pretensions of being deep or artistic, and while it's not a great movie, it's not a bad one either. It's basically a movie devoted to big smashy-shooty battles full of fire and Hercules hitting things with a club. And it doesn't take itself seriously, giving the characters a lot of funny moments ("Excuse me, that was my fate!") until things go dark at the climax.

And it is an interesting exercise in whatiffery: what if the legends of Hercules were based on a real man with abnormal strength? Fortunately, Brett Ratner doesn't try to make it TOO realistic, mainly by giving everything an over-the-top atmosphere -- sort of a lighter, less stylized "300" feel. It's handled in a manner cheesy enough to make it amusing, but not so cheesy that it becomes ridiculous.

And Dwayne Johnson... well, is there any other actor better suited to playing Hercules? He's huge, he has big muscles, he's good at one-liners, and he has buckets of charisma that just make him darn likable. But he's also able to handle the tragedy of Hercules' past nicely, and conveys his grief despite us seeing almost nothing of Herc's wife and kids.

That said, Johnson is the only main character who gets a lot of development -- out of his whole posse, only McShane's character gets more than a single character trait (Autolycus = greedy, Tydeus = animalistic, Atalanta = female), and they have some nice bonding moments. The other actors are quite good, but not given much, though Ferguson has a decent role as a sorta-kinda-maybe love interest, whose young son adores Hercules.

As for the villains... well, they're so cartoonishly evil that it becomes ridiculous. Joseph Fiennes is almost comically bad here, campily snickering and smarming until you wish he had a Snidely Whiplash mustache just so he could twirl it. Not since the "Twilight" movies have I been so... AMUSED by a villain.

"Hercules" isn't a great movie, but it's probably the best Hercules movie in decades -- wry, action-packed and with a clever meta-mythic twist. It's definitely worth a watch when you want some fiery, over-the-top action.
0Comment| 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Hercules'(Dwayne Johnson) Son of Zeus' is with his small band of followers 'Amphiarius' (Ian McShane) - 'Autolycus'
(Rufus Sewell) - 'Tydeus' (Askell Hennie) - 'Atalata' (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) and Nephew 'Iolaus' (Reece Ritchie) are
soldiers of fortune who's services can be acquired with the promise of 'gold' though things have not always been that
way, 'Hercules' now fights the demons of his past.
He is offered his weight in Gold to protect the innocents from what he believes to be a treacherous and uncompromising
enemy who threatens the lands and residents of 'Lord Cotys' (John Hurt) and daughter 'Ergenia' (Rebecca Ferguson)
'Hercules' and his followers act as an inspiration for 'Lord Cotys' forces against overwhelming odds of 'Rhesus's' (Tobias
Santelmann) forces.
The 'Lord's' men must be trained up to be all that they can be by 'Hercules' and followers to complete what they have
started.
However it seems the cause 'Hercules' and followers had believed themselves to be fighting was not as they were told,
they have their Gold, but it's not over, wrongs have to be put right.
Seems to me they tried to re-create the feel of the once hailed epics of the 50's and early 60's, obviously the cast-list is
top-drawer.
The film is a whole lot better than i believed it would be, guess i had low expectations given some of the reviews, the
battle sequences were well-staged, script maybe not all it might of been, however overall, pretty enjoyable.
The Picture and Sound Quality is Good.
Food for thought - Many feel that the intended blockbusters have been watered down some to acommodate the wider
audience and that this factor diminishes what the film could or maybe should have been...
Whist i agree in part with their views, in truth it boils down to economics.
The wider the audience the more pennies in the film-studios pockets....I'd say understandable (though they might struggle
to break-even with this one, only time will tell)
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on 26 September 2014
took my son to see Hercules not expecting much, and then the movie started... oh no the best bits from the trailer are all in the first 5 minutes of the film, so thinking 2 hours of my life wasted i sighed and watched what i thought would be a total waste of time..BUT as the film went on it turned into a damn good, action packed, escapist entertaining film, no oscar winner but a really enjoyable movie . slightly cut to get a 12 cert but still some darker moments, but once again Dwayne Johnson (the rock) proves he can still pull off a good family action movie,, left the cinema pleasantly surprised .. hopefully we will get the full extended version on bluray like the usa is getting but the way a few other releases have gone i somehow doubt it....
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on 29 April 2016
I watched this without knowing anything about it. What an unexpected surprise it was. I found the story engaging with each of the characters given their own brief individual background story. But it was done in such a way that it didn`t slow down the story and always held your interest. The story itself is pacy, full of action with some great set pieces that are really well executed. Dwayne Johnson is superb as Hercules, this is a role he was born to play, of course he is terrific in the action scenes but he also brings a depth to the character that will have you cheering him on throughout the movie. The production values are very good and the budget of 100 million dollars is evident on screen in some terrific huge set pieces.
As you can gather I loved it and this movie is recommended as excellent family entertainment for all ages.
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on 20 January 2015
A mediocre sword and sorcery romp, Dwayne is good and his little band of mercenaries quite engaging. John Hurt earned his 5 bob. Dialogue was a laugh, Hurt at the last fight, " Kill the filthy bastards!" . Suspend your disbelief, get the popcorn and enjoy the nonsense. On the whole, an interesting take on the myth of Hercules and the way in which stories and legends grow.
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VINE VOICEon 7 August 2014
Hercules is a half mortal, half god mercenary at least according to legend who gets hired by the kingdom of Thrace to defend it against an invading army. A fun, tongue in cheek romp not to be taken seriously that attempts to find the truth behind the myth of Hercules. Good action scenes and a good performance from Dwayne Johnson as Hercules with Joseph Fiennes, Ian Mcshane and John Hurt in the supporting cast all giving good support. All we need now is a sequel with Xena Warrior Princess!
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Another movie all about the ancient hero Hercules. Stories of the legendary hero have been told and retold many times down the years. Thus like all such stories and movies about a character who has been in the public domain for longer than copyright laws have existed, this is a completely fresh take on a familiar source. Although in the case the source is actually a graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars which came up with it's own take on the character.

Hercules is a legend. A man who has completed the twelve labours. And a man whose reputation both precedes him and which has also made him somewhat larger than life. A point made during a decent opening in which his nephew spins some tales about his uncle.

Hercules [Dwayne Johnson] and his group of fellow warriors have been fighting for a long time. Have pasts they are haunted by. And are thinking about it possibly being the time to settle down. One last job for a King [John Hurt] might be what they need in order to achieve that aim. But their last battle turns out to be not quite what they expected. Can Hercules rediscover who he is in time to save the day?

This is what they call a sword and sandal movie, and as such it strives for realism over fantasy. All the battle sequences do try hard to look like realistic combat. The whole film as well has a washed out and sandy look to it.

It does try to be both grim and gritty and look at the horrors of combat. Consider the difference between a myth and it's reality. Put the lead character on a hero's journey, as he has to come to terms with past trauma and move forward. And do a bit of humour as well. In many ways it tries to do a lot of what the cult tv Hercules series of the 1990's did [not a show all may be familiar with, thanks to somewhat limited uk exposure. If not, check it out, as it was great]. But this being a blockbuster movie means it doesn't have quite the intelligence or the time to manage that. Thus it is a little disjointed in tone and can shift between things.

The supporting cast are all pretty good, but John Hurt as the King and Ian McShane as one of Hercules' band, a seer who is highly conscious of his own mortality, do steal the show from all around them thanks effortlessly strong acting. The latter managing some very nice self depreciating humour as well.

But this isn't a bad film at all. It's a capable production. It's got good spectacle and fight scenes and a decent cast. It also manages to shift gear slightly for the final act just when it needs to. It allows John Hurt to be a bit more than wise old kindly gentleman, and he does make the most of the material he gets.

Ultimately, it's a good bit of entertaining escapism.

So whilst it's not perhaps quite the movie it could have been, it's a fun watch if you're in the right mood. So for that, it's well worth a look.

There is one single bit of strong language. Which frankly is rather gratuitious as a result.

The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:

Languages: English.

Subtitles: English.

It's also English audio captioned.

It begins with a couple of trailers, which can be skipped via the next button on the dvd remote.

Extras are:

A commentary from the director and the producer.

Three featurettes:

Dwayne Johnson and Brett Ratner: an introduction. A look at the film, which runs for five minutes.

Hercules and his mercenaries: all about the supporting characters and cast. Runs for Ten minutes.

The effects of Hercules: All about how certain sequences were done. Which runs for eleven minutes.

All of these, thanks to some good interviewees, in particular Dwayne Johnson, are pretty good and worth watching.
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on 12 November 2015
An old school very good action Movie based on who was the man Hercules, it has good Battle scenes plenty of action gore, it has a credible well written story and many good actors, very funny in places and the ending shines through would recommend its well worth a watch, this is no scorpion king.
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on 8 November 2015
No contest between this outing and the REAL Hercules (1959) as portrayed by the late Steve Reeves in the movie of the same name; and, of course, the sequel Hercules Unchained also starring the great Steve Reeves.

And Hercules did not use expletives in the 1959 film, either!

I was very disappointed in this Dwayne Johnson version; Johnson is a very careful actor and plays his parts very well and sincerely but, let's face it, he is NOT Hercules material -- his large muscles not withstanding!

The magic of true Greek mythology was simply not there, sadly. A lot of mindless and graphic violence abounded, but this was NOT, in my opinion, a movie to join the ranks of Fifties mythological movies like the above two, and Ulysses starring Kirk Douglas and great films of the same genre.

This DVD will NOT join my Greek mythology collection, but will wing it's way to my local charity shop.
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on 27 April 2015
dwayne Johnson is Hercules and with his loyal friends ,he takes on creatures of myth and a king who wants a empire,with great special effects watch as action,friendship and a cast of famouse actors make this film a special.RECOMMEND IT
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