Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hercules

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! If you smellllllllll-la-la-la...what the Herc...is cooking!






Hercules – 4 out of 5

Hercules is one of those legends that will never stop being told.  Sure, the quality of those adaptations may run the spectrum of that boring one with a guy from Twilight that is better used as a sleep aid than a epic tale to a fun Disney film that has a great performance from James Woods as Hades to having a mildly tolerable Kevin Sorbo before he decided to Kirk Cameron his career and let all of us know how his religious beliefs affect his opinions on current events like we really fucking care…and then you have the adaptation of Steve Moore’s graphic novels that include a man who seems like the only person you should cast in a Hercules movie.
"Hakuna Matata, motherfucker!"


Legend states that Hercules is the son of Zeus and was born of a mortal woman.  Tales of his adventures and his completion of the Twelve Labors have spread throughout the land.  Hercules (Dwayne “I’m not sure if he’s still credited as The Rock” Johnson) doesn’t buy into his own hype and doesn’t believe his own legend.  However, he uses his nephew (Reece Ritchie) to sell the shit out of it because he’s a mercenary and those tales helps him and his team—the prophet Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), the dagger-tossing extraordinaire Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), the animalistic feral warrior Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), and the Amazonian archer Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal)—get as much gold as they can for their jobs.  One day, Lord Cotys (John Hurt) enlists Hercules and his team to train his Thracian army and defeat the vile warriors from Rhesues.  Soon, however, Hercules learns that not all is as it seems and he quickly finds himself on the path where he may face becoming the legend or face utter demise…
Don't worry, McShane, The Rock makes us all feel small.  Hell, somehow I'm sitting
in his shadow while I type this.

Young lady, you are not fighting a war wearing that!

Of course, Hercules is wearing a loincloth...
This was the Hercules film for 2014 that I was excited about.  Even in my review of that other one, I kept saying that I couldn’t wait to see the character played by someone who can act (The Rock has really come into his own in the world of acting and has been able to do something few former pro-wrestlers have been able to do...make a successful transition to a full-time acting career).  However, even though I was excited, the reality of the behind-the-scenes of the film and the royal screw job that the creator Steven Moore got from optioning the comics was hard to ignore—mostly because Alan Moore wouldn’t let us not NOT know as he requested we boycott the film.  The basics is that, before he died, Moore (Steve, not Alan) wanted his name removed from the promotion of the film because he got screwed out of money when the comic was optioned to be a film.  They used his name anyway and the rest is Moore (Alan, not Steve) saying, “Don’t go see this fucking movie!”  It was this reason, and the fact that I was both poor and had scheduling issues, I never saw the film in the theaters and decided to wait until it got to my budget theater or was able to rent it.  It’s a sad reality that screw-jobs like this happen a lot to comic artists and it pains me that we live in a world where comic book properties make mad money at the Box Office and we are finally living in a golden era where films like these aren’t just seen as “cartoon films” for nerds but we can’t treat the creators of the property with the respect the artists deserve.
Hercules is sent out to take out the MGM lion...

I’ve never actually read the comics this film was based on but after watching the film, I am a little more than curious to see the novels.  And by "little more than curious," I mean I want to go out and buy them right now to read because one of the things I loved about the film was the ambiguity they played with in Hercules' legend.  In all Hercules adaptations, we see the demi-god fighting monsters like the three-headed Cerberus, the multi-headed hydra, and the single-heads of all the dumbass mortals that got in his way.  We don’t see this in this version of Hercules and he is pretty much all but stated to be a mortal (who is also really strong and totes fucking lifts, brah!) and that the monsters that his nephew tells any listening ear about has explanations in the real world.  For example, centaurs are actually just guys on horses and the perspective of them being viewed at made the horses head impossible to see and the many heads of hydra were just dudes in masks (oops, does that qualify as a spoiler?). 
"Hey army down there, I'm totes a centaur!"

This element fascinated me because it brought a new level to the hero that is Hercules.  Seeing the man I’ve seen portrayed as the son of a God for years suddenly just become a man who plays off his own legend became the film’s strongest aspect for me and one that made me really want to read the comics and regret that I never even heard of these comics till after the film came out.
"Let's just cut the heads off of two of them and glue them to the final one...
Cerberus solved!"

Another really strong aspect of the story (and that is slightly a pun) and the whole production was having The Rock as Hercules.  When Dwayne Johnson first started acting, I didn’t think he was going to become the actor he is.  I liked The Rock as a wrestler and wrestlers are great actors—they have to be because they have to be in character all the time, even when hurt—but there is a big difference to being a great actor in the ring and being a great actor on the screen.  However, as time went by and his filmography on IMDb got longer, Johnson has really started to hit his own and learned how to deliver. I’ve become quite a fan of his acting and he really does an amazing job as Hercules…even with the awful fake beard he wears…
I have a sneaking suspicion that The Rock didn't grow that lion's head either.


"Fuck you, horse!"
The Rock is a big, muscular guy and he oozes badassness (totally a word).  He seemed fit to play the part even if he was portraying your run-of-the-mills Herc but he wasn’t.  This was a slightly jaded hero who uses his legend and tall-tales in order to get paid.  He doesn’t buy into his own bullshit and uses it to fill his pockets with gold.  However, this story is all about Hercules finally understanding where he comes from and who he is—basically buying into his own bullshit—and The Rock sells the shit out of it.  I believe he is the son of Zeus and when he breaks his chains (literally and figuratively) I was ready to leap off the couch and join his fight.  And then, when I found out that The Rock broke real chains and passed out several times trying to do it, it only made me get into his performance more.
The fact he broke real chains in this scene makes me scared to ever give a movie with
The Rock in it a bad review...luckily no one reads these reviews.



"Hey, you guys back there...you smell what I'm
cooking?"
The other mercs in Hercules crew might not be as large of a presence as The Rock is as Hercules but they all have their part to play and add to the film.  Ian McShane is incredibly entertaining as the prophet Amphiaraus.  His arrogance and acceptance of his own mortality brought some lighthearted moments to the film.  Rufus Sewell and Ingrid Bolsø Berdal may not have the largest parts in the story but both have their moments that are enjoyable and, finally, Aksel Hennie was a fun addition as the animalistic Tydeus.  Granted, the rest of his gang may not have a lot of focus and all have backstory that is, for the most part, just casually mentioned and never really dipped deeper into, they all do their roles quite well and add to the tone of the film well.  In fact, there really aren’t any complaints from me in the acting and cast department.
Tydeus once saw his parents having sex...he never got over it.

The real heart of the matter with this film is the action.  The whole Hercules being mortal aspect may have been the crowning moment and aspect of the film for me, the second part is, without a doubt, the action.  The fights scenes, the war, The Rock punching motherfuckers in the face…all of it adds up to action that perfectly satisfies the action itch for action junkies.
Not a sight you wanna see...

Because this happens.

The most surprising thing about this movie, though, was the fact it was directed by Brett Ratner and he hasn’t said anything stupid while promoting it yet.  Weird.
"Before we go to war, I must do my French Stewart impression..."

The War Doctor seems worried...
While I think it’s sad that one of the biggest things I’ll think of when I watch this film or think about Hercules is the creator getting screwed over while the producers and the rest involve are probably swimming in money and cocaine but I still really enjoyed the film immensely.  I like the fact Hercules isn’t a demi-god with supernatural strength, I was very entertained with the action, I loved the cast, and I really love the fact it has open me up to a graphic novel I never heard of and now wildly want to possess.

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