Hercules (2014) The one with Dwayne the Rock Johnson

Said action based poster mentioned below.

Said action based poster mentioned below.

The year 2014 could also go down in history as the year of Hercules, the demi-god known for his strength and his…. well let’s just say “amorous” father: Zeus. At the beginning of the year, screens were graced with a gritty, action drama; The Legend of Hercules, starring Kellan Lutz who you might remember as the beefy Emmit Cullen in Twilight or even the Greek Sea God, Poseidon, in 2011’s ImmortalsThe film overall tried far too hard, and left the audience feeling lack luster.

With not only the summer heating up, but the theater selection as well, in rolls Dwayne the Rock Johnson in 2014’s HerculesThe movie opens as a Grecian boy describes the most gruesome, famous labors of Hercules. The young narrator begins with the legend of the Lernaean hydra, moves onto the Erymanthian Boar, and gets interrupted during what is ironically Hercules’ first labor: Nemean lion.

Sorry for the low quality screen cap, best smirk I could find.

Sorry for the low quality screen cap, best smirk I could find.

As you watch Hercules take each monster down, you begin to wonder: “is this the same disastrous, overzealoused CGI film that Director Renny Harlin farted out earlier this year?” And then Dwayne struts into the camp of pillagers that kidnapped his nephew who happens to be our young narrator. The Rock is draped in the lion’s pride, the lion mane gloriously haloing around his head. As the camera slowly pans up to his face, we see him smirk and laugh, nearly right into the camera!

And you begin to wonder, is he being cheeky?

What type of movie is this going to be? (You especially wonder this, if you’ve kept your nose out of any trailers, commercials, or reviews for the film.)

Then something wonderful happens, Hercules takes out four men with one blow of his club with the lion’s teeth attached to the end. As his nephew, Iolaus, played by Reece Ritchie, continues to boast Hercules’ strength, we see him take down more and more men before he lures the enemy behind a wall so the leaders of the pillagers cannot see what’s happening. And that’s when you realize exactly what type of film this is.

3/5s of the band of misfits, and you can see how much of Atlanta's skin is vulnerable

3/5s of the band of misfits, and you can see how much of Atlanta’s skin is vulnerable

It is a campy, tongue in cheek, action film that delivers the type of fun that a summer flick should deliver. You meet the rest of Hercules’ crew of misfits, all of who hold their own genuinely interesting back-stories, along with a wonderful display of individual weaponry. Rufus Sewell (as the deviner, knife-wielding Autolycus, friends with Herc since they roamed the streets as orphans), Aksel Hennie (as the young wildling Hercules took under his wing when Tydeus’ entire town was massacred), the lovable Ian McShane (the seer who had “seen” his own death, therefor could go into any battle knowing he wasn’t going to die yet, Amphiaraus), and my personal favorite Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (as the badass “Amazonia” warrior, who inexplicably wears next to no armor Atalanta) all play their parts perfectly.

Just the right amount of seriousness and cheese; Hercules is one of those films where you can tell the cast had a load of fun while filming. It plays into all the stereotypes and tropes of action flicks while winking at the viewer, like “We know what you like, and we’re gonna ride it hard and long allllll night. Oh yeah.” It’s frustrating that they wouldn’t portray this elevated funness in the posters or advertisements, because the film is doing hella decent on Rotten Tomatoes (for a mid-summer action non-marvel flick) and only decently in the box office.

Director Brett Ratner’s Hercules is the best darn mythos-based movie I have seen since Disney’s 1997 Hercules. What writers Ryan Condal, Evan Spiliotopoulos, and (Radical Comic writer) Steve Moore did was more than just stick to the myth, they made Hercules a man, a man with pain and anguish, a troubled past, but also, more importantly, a man with a friends, a man who is both loved and feared, a man who became a legend thanks to his cohorts. He was no seed of Zeus, but since he believed he was a hero, he was one. And that is by far the best message one could take away from not only any movie, but also Hercules’ Legend.

Hercules (2014) is based off of Radical Comic’s character from The Thracian Wars and The knives of Kush. The film currently rates a 62% on Rotten Tomatoes and has grossed more than $56 million domestically as of August 6th, 2014.

The below trailer is the closest perfect description I could probably find online without spoilers, and without it being the actual perfection that is Hercules. Beware, the trailer contains many scenes that are not in the final theatrical cut, but I am very happy to report that Hercules’ wife in this adaption is Megara (seen above), and they dress her in purple. Like I said the most tongue in cheek mytho movie ever.

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The Manchurian Candidate (Day 10 of 100)

MCWhoa, whoops, so as I was doing my typical Google search to pull up my typical hyperlinks for my reviews, I might have realized I watched the wrong Manchurian CandidateI had not double checked my list, but recalled that The Manchurian Candidate was on my list and I found it on Netflix, little did I realize that I was suppose to watch the original 1962 film, which is not on Netflix. So this review will be for the 2004 film starring Denzel Washington & Liev Schreiber which is not in the top 100 list and ranks with an 81% on Rotten tomatoes instead of a 98% which the original scored. 

The drama, thriller, mystery focuses on soldiers kidnapped and brainwashed during the Gulf War. The scary bit about it though, is that the poor soldiers are brainwashed by American scientists in order to help ‘suade the nation into believing that   Raymond Shaw (Schreiber) is the perfect candidate for the next Vice President of the United States. The plan actually works as well.

The movie is well-acted, a bit hard to follow (which was the purpose), and interesting to watch. Overall, it is a great film to watch for any history buff or conspiracy enthusiasts.  I don’t believe it should be on a top 100 list, but perhaps the original should be.

Repulsion (Day 09 of 100)

repulsionposterRoman Polanskis 1965 Repulsion is one of the highest rated horror films of all time, the only other horror film on my list of 100ish days of Summer are Eyes Without A FaceAliens, Let the Right One In, Jaws, The Exorcist, Psycho, and depending on who you ask, also Vertigo and Rear Window. Although I must disagree, even as a seasoned movie watcher, from classics to b-rated movies, I appreciate all decent forms of cinematic-art, and I went in with pretty high hopes for Repulsion. I actually had downloaded it months before I decided to do this blogathon, and just hadn’t gotten around to it.

But the film is slow-paced for today’s audience and it relies on jumps far too much to even try to hold your attention between jumps. And you don’t become invested at all with ANY of the characters. And please, don’t think that I’m not a fan of Roman Polanski, because that would be a lie, I truly enjoyed Chinatown and his second installment of his “Horrors of living in an Apartment” trilogy: Rosemary’s Baby, but I also read the novel before hand. But there is just a huge disconnect to what must have been in his head, what main actress Catherine Deneuve was trying to portray, and how it aged over the years, because this film is a dud for this buff. The only part of the movie that held any sort of my interest was when a co-worker found a human heart in Carol’s (Deneuve) purse. And then did nothing about it. 

The movie relies heavily on music, symbolism, hallucinations, and movement, with hardly any dialogue, it expects you to jump to conclusions about the characters and the plot because the acting is terrible. I know Carol is suppose to be aloof and broken, which eventually leads to her *spoiler alert* murdering spree, but I think Catherine just doesn’t deliver. As simple was watching a woman stare blankly all the time.

"Symbolism"

“Symbolism”

Repulsion did nothing for me or my movie resume, aside from the fact that it is the first film to every present a woman having an orgasm, even if it was only audibly. Oh and that it, you know, represents what a woman becomes after being sexually abused, so it does have that going for it. Skip this one over and watch Rosemary’s Baby or even This is the End if you want a horror movie based around men tormenting somebody in someone’s home, because Hell, at least then, we have the Devil as a plausible explanation.

The Conversation (Day 08 of 100)

I am just as boring as this poster depicts. It is not false advertising.

I am just as boring as this poster depicts. It is not false advertising.

Damn if this movie wasn’t misleading, The Conversation (1974) starring Gene Hackman as the lead, Harry Caul, and (hardly in it, Harrison Ford) is a Drama, Mystery, Thriller based around a secret surveillance expert (Hackman) and his recorded conversation of a couple he was spying on in the park for a very secretive client. 

The movie is slow-paced, had forced love interests in it (because really, even in the 70s, was Hackman considered a sex symbol? How much suspension of disbelief is expected of me for this film?), and probably only did well in theaters and with critics because it was the 70s. You know, that time in American history where no one, especially the government could be trusted? We had that whole Soviet Espionage thing happening, and every person everywhere thought they were being spied on, or phone tapped, or that a sleeper agent could “wake” at any moment.

The movie hardly held my interest and was far too long, dragging on for 113 minutes, and was directed by “all star” Francis Ford Coppola, regardless of the director and 3 Academy Award Nominations, the film doesn’t hold up for this new generation of movie goers. What was frightening, and psychologically tormenting about this film doesn’t translate for us today. It was placed on my list as #93 but doesn’t deserve it. 

 

The Conversation  has a rating of 98% by critics and a shocking 90% by the typical audience. Do not attempt to watch this movie unless you were born after the year of 1980. Even that is pushing it.

Eyes Without A Face (Day 07 of 100)

eyes3One of the most influential horror movies, Eyes Without a Face, delivers an eeriness with its’ plot that would be considered torture porn if remade/re-imagined for today’s audience. It is a 1960 French film (originally called Les Yeux Sans Visage) that focuses on the classic mad scientist bit, a man torn because he want’s his now inexplicably faceless daughter to have a face again. Docteur Génessier (Pierre Brasseur), with the help of his assistant, Lousie (Alida Valli), kidnaps countless women, all with the same physical appearance as his “missing/dead daughter ” (or so he would like the public to think): brown hair, blue eyes, and a defined, beautiful facial structure. The doctor performs these extreme plastic surgeries where he removes the face of the kidnapped woman and then transplant the face (quiet literally just the skin) onto his daughter.

Did I mention that it’s never explained upon why Christiane Génessier (Edith Scob) doesn’t have a face? Oh I did? Seriously, I would like to know what the fuck happened to her original face, if anyone reads this, and actually knows, please for the love of all that is sane,  tell me why. Not sure if I had missed the explanation because I, being American, had to read the English subtitles and something just went over my head or it was lost in translation. 

Anyways, the actors in the film all do a wonderful job, and the ending of the film is hauntingly beautiful and horrific. On the list that I have compiled for my 100ish Days of Summer it clocks in at number 94, and with good reason. This movie paved the way for classic horror movies, that may not be featured on this list, but would be featured on my own personal top 100 list. The two most important elements of  Georges Franju‘s Eyes Without a Face are by far the musical composition and the mask that cover’s Christiane’s frightening exterior of what is really, a girl misguided by a father whom was tolled by grief. Wouldn’t any loving father do anything to make his daughter stop crying?

 

Eyes Without a Face is certified fresh with 98% and an 88% for users, it went on to inspire pop icon Billy Idol’s Eyes Without a Face. The film can be found on torrent sites but is also on Hulu? So says my internet search. If your big on horror, this is one film every scream queen should get around to watching.