By Cameron Heffernan and Gavin Muirhead
We review the skull-crushing, heart-pounding, entertaining-as-hell, Hercules, starring Dwayne Johnson.
There have been many interpretations of the legend of Hercules, a man, born from Zeus’ bloodline and a mortal woman. There’s been a Disney version, a lesser known – hopefully lesser-seen version that came out late last year starring Kellan Lutz, of course the old television show starring Kevin Sorbo, and last, Hercules in New York starring none other than, Arnold Schwarzenegger (A movie that features wacky hi-jinks and a pretzel vendor named Pretzy).
Aside from maybe Arnold’s interpretation, the Rock takes all you’ve ever know to be the legend of Hercules, turns it on it’s head, and gives it a triple dose of steroids and skull crushing. I can’t stress enough how amazing Dwayne Johnson’s “Hercules” is.
Editor’s Note: We decided to call it Dwayne Johnson’s “Hercules”, because screw that hate mongering Brett Ratner, the director of Herc. He does a good job, but any idiot who can point a camera can direct Dwanye. The guy owns every scene he’s in and the camera knows it’s role. Yes, that’s a reference to the Rock.
I’m not talking “Goodfellas”, or “The Dark Knight” good. I’m talking “Conan The Barbarian” good. I’m talking the first and second “Expendables” good. “The Predator” good. Do you remember the first time you saw Conan? The feeling you got when he punched a camel and knocked the thing clean out? The feeling you got when you saw your favorite action stars team up in “Expendables”, or the first time you ever heard, “if it bleeds we can kill it”? Johnson’s Hercules conjures up all the same machismo blood lust you felt when you experienced all that. Takes that emotion. turns it sideways, and jams a human-size spiked club up it’s candy ass, while you watch and cheer that shit on.
This film is a good old-fashioned action film. Point A to B, with a little betrayal so there’s somewhat of a storyline. Nothing groundbreaking, other than the size of Dwayne Johnson (which is a wildly unnatural size for any human being, which leads us to believe he may be an actual demi-god). “Hercules” never tries, like most action films, to be something it’s not. There’s no moral quandary to ponder as an audience member, no slippery slope bullshit to deal with, and no political message, other than politicians are mainly evil.
The only thing this iteration of Herc accomplishes is crushing heads, punching people at least 15 feet from their original standing position, throwing horses, promoting teamwork, and basically being an all-around demi-god bad ass.
I audibly cheered in the theater as the final scene drew to a close and the credits began to roll (the only one to do so, I may add). I laughed at scenes that weren’t meant to be funny and nearly lost my mind when he completes his final feat and progresses into the final act. It’s just one of those films. So ridiculous, that when you walk out you don’t believe what you saw was just a movie, but a literal documentation of Dwayne Johnson’s off time.
Hercules and his merry band of mercenaries are played by the aforementioned, Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane; who is next level awesome as the clairvoyant “seer” of the group, Amphiaraus. Herc’s childhood friend Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), a feral human Herc saved from a pillaged town, Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), and a super bad-ass archer and one of the only remaining Amazonian, Atalanta (Ingrid Bolso Berdal), round out the mercs. At it’s core, it’s the Magnificent Seven times the classic tale of Hercules.
Everyone in the film has some sort of accent, whether english, or…. English. Then there’s Dwayne. Johnson exists outside of time periods. He can do Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen, any stage piece, and you’ll still be getting The Rock. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s like a contemporary Hercules traveled back in time to take the spot of the original Herc, only because his accent made him sound like a girl.
The Rock… I mean Dwayne knows the way your supposed to do it. There are scenes where you’d think the more prestigious English actors will chew too much scenery away from Dwayne. Dwayne has none of that shit, being the same wise-cracking Dwayne you’ve seen in Fast Five and Six, Escape From With Mountain, The Rundown, Doom, GI Joe, and pretty much any damn movie Dwayne has done.
This movie isn’t about his acting. It’s about muscles, teamwork and throwing horses and lifting other giant shit no human should be able to lift. Which, in a sense, is exactly the Hercules movie we needed, and the one we wanted…
I mean.. he literally picks up a horse with the rider still on it, and throws it at the same guy who was originally riding the horse before it was thrown. Figure that out, and drink it in.