Out of all the big action movies that were hitting theaters this summer, Hercules was not at the top of my must-see list. I've always liked Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, but before I actually saw this movie, I didn't see the need for another Hercules movie. Not to mention the fact that the trailers were hideously over-done and that the film wasn't screening for most critics until the night before its release. That's almost never a good sign, but in this case, it really meant nothing. Hercules is not a good film or a particularly memorable one, but it's a very fun movie with a solid band of heroes at its center. I really enjoyed myself.
The story in Hercules is almost inconsequential, but it involves Hercules' years as a mercenary after he performed his twelve labors for the gods. After a brief battle against some pirates, Hercules and his crew are approached by Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson). She needs Hercules' help to save her kingdom from an evil warlord known as Rhesus (Tobias Santlemann), who is ravaging villages everywhere. She offers Hercules two times his weight in gold and he accepts. He travels to the kingdom (don't ask me the name of it) and meets King Cotys (John Hurt) and together, they train an army of farmers to fight the evil Rhesus.
Hercules is almost the definition of a guilty pleasure. It's a convoluted, messy film with a story that you really don't care about. But all of that really didn't matter to me, because this movie is a lot of fun. Plain and simple. The group of heroes at the center of the story are easy to root for and Dwayne Johnson is pretty solid as Hercules. The battle sequences are extremely thrilling and the special effects are quite spectacular. It all adds up to a movie that you probably won't remember for very long, but will still enjoy. I know I enjoyed it.
If you're familiar with Hercules, you know that he's a demi-god- the half-god, half-human son of Zeus. He was a bit of an idiot and famously completed twelve labors for the Greek gods in return for his life. That's the Hercules storyline that most people know, so obviously, one might expect that to be the story told in this film. Not at all. Hercules gives us all that information- in the first five minutes of the movie. This is not the legend of Hercules that we all know. This is completely different. And that's kind of a good thing.
Dwayne Johnson basically is a modern-day Hercules. The dude is massive and could probably crush most other human beings with his bare hands. He was pretty much born to play Hercules and he does a great job in the role. He brings his usual mix of charisma and insane action skills to the film. However, Hercules is actually one of the main problems I had with the movie. You kind of get to know him, but the movie suggests so many things and only confirms a few of them. Basically, this movie's take is that Hercules kinda sorta completed the 12 labors, but really didn't. It's a fascinating, bizarre plot thread that could be explored more thoroughly in a better movie.
The supporting cast is essentially filled with stock characters, who are generic, yet likable. There's King Cotys, the humble, desperate king who may have some interesting motives. Then you have Ergenia, the woman who wants to protect her son. Then there's Hercules' crew. Basically, each one of Hercules' partners has some sort of gift and that's what you know them for. There's Knife Man (Rufus Sewell), Arrow Lady (Ingrid Bolso Berdal), Crazy Animal Man (Aksel Hennie), the Soothsayer (Ian McShane) and the Storyteller (Reece Ritchie). All of the actual names of the characters are pretty disposable Greek myth names and you pretty much remember the characters for their traits alone. Not necessarily a terrible thing, but not a positive either.
The plot is also incredibly convoluted and the twist at the end is not very well thought-out. I didn't really get what they were trying to do at the end and I have no idea what the villain's true motive was. It just didn't make much sense. In addition to that, this film just tries to juggle way too many things at once. It wants to be a fun summer blockbuster while also exploring Hercules' past and the possibility that he might be a fraud and so on. It's just a lot of different stuff and it's kind of messy at time. Also, the story that this film tells isn't really one that is interesting, so I'm not exactly sure why the filmmakers chose to tell it. However, I just went with it for the most part. And that's really what you have to do if you want to enjoy this movie. If you think about it too much, this movie will not work for you at all.
That being said, there are a lot of simple pleasures within this film. The battle sequences, for one, are absolutely terrific. They're very well shot and it's some really gnarly violence for a PG-13 movie. You've got Hercules beating people with a club, Atalanta (Arrow Woman) shooting villains down, people getting hacked up with axes, etc. The action scenes are incredibly exciting and thrilling and they always brought me back into this movie when I was getting bored.
Even though I kind of made fun of the fact that Hercules' partners are completely disposable and generic, I actually did like these characters a lot. They're quite a bit of fun and you really do want to root for them. That's always a good thing and I think that this movie did a good job of making you care about the heroes at the center of the film.
That being said, nobody is going to remember this film in six months and besides the great action scenes, there's nothing that really sets it apart from other Greek myth movies. However, I will always recommend a film that entertained me and that's what I'm doing with Hercules. It's certainly a light recommendation, but I went and was entertained for an hour and forty minutes. I didn't care a lick about what was going on in the story and the movie was kind of messy, but I liked the characters and I really enjoyed myself. It's a fun time at the movies.
THE FINAL GRADE: B- (6.9/10)