“Right. Today’s lesson: How not to stab yourselves.”
Many have said that there hasn’t been a good live-action Hercules film. Kellan Lutz did nothing to help, starring in the pretty shocking The Legend of Hercules, but it seems Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Brett Ratner have bucked the trend.
Hercules follows a strong narrative story, especially for a all-out-action film. I won’t ruin it here but it is refreshingly far away from the demi-God kicking everyone’s ass story-lines of past ancient Greek epics. Its story is human and largely engrossing, creating a picture that does not rely on its visual appeal. Though battles are decided on shaky ground and the script gets a little slow, trundling along in the middle, the story’s combination with splendid action and narrative tension certainly covered these faults.
Also, Dwayne is an action god, so it is quite fitting that he would play a demi-God. He is a powerful, rippling specimen of primal manhood. Those WWE promos have also made him very commanding in his speech. Yet, it is nice that he is not a one man army in this picture, as he is surrounded by a group of assorted warriors. However, these warriors featured the same troupes as in every other film of this variety; each has a different niche weapon to which they were a master with, and the single female combatant wears much too little armour. The villains also took the same troupes, as either barbarians or traitors, with usually little inspiring to say for themselves.
Released in America as a PG-13, the lack of grit in Hercules is disappointing. Though the major battles are meant as hard-hitting, dirty wars, the lack of blood and gore does render them lacking. In a similar situation to the final Hobbit, when throats are slit and heads are decapitated, the lack of gore strips them of their full impact.
A feature that doesn’t disappoint however is Hercules’ glorious CGI beasts. Though only acting as a visual footnote, the likes of the Hydra and the Erymanthian Boar are glorious. Furthermore, the film’s slow-mo set pieces are magnificent, especially those involving the stunning Nemean lion. These CGI elements, obviously crafted for 3D, successfully tread the fine line between tacky and tremendous.
Even with its faults, Hercules is much better than its recent competition. The Legend of Hercules, as I mentioned, was pretty poor and Clash of the Titans was only a little better. I’m very willing to forgive many of Hercules’ flaws, as its dialogue is entertainingly passable, it has a solid narrative story and doesn’t rely solely on the shedding of blood. It is lots of parallels with the other films of its genre, but is a step ahead within these.
Hercules may not be the work of Gods, but you’ll have a hell of a good time.
N.B. Hercules is currently on Netflix.