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 Immortals. The 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 Hercules. The 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.
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.
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.