Movie Review: 'Hercules' (2014)

Fun action-adventures are hard to come by and this rollicking good time is an oasis to the sword-and-sandal genre. “Hercules” offers an exciting take on the legendary character, complete with a refreshing spin on the original mythos. While other movie adaptations have shied away from the basis of the story, this version acknowledges and superbly retools it.

In Brett Ratner’s version, Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) is a strong warrior with a loyal group of mercenary comrades. His cousin exalts his talents, telling stories that have cultivated the myth of Hercules as a half-god and it has a huge impact on their enemies.

Words prove just as powerful as physical action throughout the movie; coming in handy more than once. When the King of Thrace’s (John Hurt) daughter (Rebecca Ferguson) recruits Hercules and his team to train an army, the team faces a surprising share of challenges.

Setting this movie apart is its resolute sense of humor and unflappable charm. Powered by a marvelous lead performance by Dwayne Johnson, the movie manages to do what its genre predecessors have failed to.

“Clash of the Titans”, “Thor”, “Prince of Persia” and “Immortals” each missed the mark when it came to properly mixing a dark story with comedic embellishments and portraying a believable camaraderie between its stars. In all of these aspects “Hercules” positively soars. 

While there’s formulism that’s impossible to ignore in these kinds of movies, “Hercules” manages to be inventive with some well placed turns. The only aspect that falls marginally flat is the central villain or lack thereof and Joseph Feinnes is miscast in a small role. The heroes and their casting more than make up for these slight missteps.

The chemistry between Johnson and the supporting cast (Rufus Sewell, Aksel Hennie, Ian McShane, Reece Ritchie and Ingrid Bolso Berdal) is stellar and as a whole the cast brings it in droves.

Dwayne Johnson’s charismatic turn as Hercules is what the movie hinges on and he sells it, bringing loads of depth to a character that could’ve easily been fallen flat in the wrong hands.

“Headhunters” star Aksel Hennie shows tremendous range in a wordless performance, while Ian McShane shines in an effusively contrasting role. Rebecca Ferguson also does splendidly as the maternal Ergenia, Hercules’ possible love interest. It’s a treat to watch the ensemble’s talent bounce off of each other. 

Thanks to a sleek direction, its momentum only builds throughout its run time, and its quieter moments comes across as introspective rather than a stall tactic. “Hercules” is an exhilarating watch from beginning to end, a popcorn movie that pulls out all of the stops and still leaves one wanting more. One of the rare films this year to make a strong case for a sequel. Rating: 7.6/10

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