I’m not a huge fan of swords and sandals epics. In fact, I think the market is over-saturated with them as much as it is with vampires. 300: Rise of an Empire was fairly decent, albeit unnecessary, but after the travesties of Wrath of the Titans, Pompeii and that last Hercules movie no one saw, I just didn’t have too much interest in seeing The Rock fight a bunch of CGI monsters for an hour and a half. Good thing this Hercules wasn’t that kind of movie at all.
Unlike most movies about Greek Gods, this movie seeks to debunk the old legends and tell a more realistic tale. Instead of being the demi-God son of Zeus, Hercules is nothing more than a really, really, really strong soldier-for-hire who was raised not knowing his father. And his most epic quests vs. those mythological beasts? They are merely fabrications of missions he successfully accomplished with the aid of his trusted team of mercenaries (Rufus Sewell, Ian McShane, Ingrid Berdal, Aksel Hennie) and his storytelling nephew (Reece Ritche). But even though he is not laced with Godlike powers, this Hercules is nothing less of a hero.
This was admittedly a lesson for me in not judging a book by its cover. Don’t get me wrong, The Rock (calling him Dwayne Johnson is like referring to Bow Wow as Shad Moss) is still a mediocre actor and the script is stuffed with action film clichés. But the movie has enough likeable characters (Ian McShane’s fortune telling sage is my particular favorite) to keep it light hearted summer fun and the plot contains enough twists to keep it from being mundane. Even the action sequences, while not remotely as eye popping as those in 300, are nevertheless done with a realistic flare that makes them entertaining. Before this weekend, I would’ve definitely told you to see Scarlett Johansson in a “mental thriller” over The Rock as Hercules. Never would’ve thought I would be horribly wrong.
FINAL GRADE: B, Not a must see, but time well spent