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Wick's Review

Created Jul 27, 2014 07:01PM PST • Edited Jan 05, 2019 10:44PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    Brett Ratner’s Hercules is the first great Hercules movie, or at least the first great one of the past 50 years, which is long enough to be worthy of mythical status. Dwayne Johnson cuts a fine figure as the big man, backed by a platoon of British thespians and presented amid stunning vistas and ancient Grecian grandeur.

    Most importantly, Steve Moore’s Radical comic Hercules: the Thracian Wars proves an inspired source, its story playing out after the Son of Zeus’s legendary labors. This allows Ratner’s movie to toy with the legend, giving Hercules an intriguing patina of reality. Superior executive production, that.

    Hitting all the touchstones nonetheless, the movie surfs through flashbacks of the familiar Herculean story, injecting them with fresh mystery by doubting their veracity. Thus the movie is sufficiently subversive to satisfy 21st century audiences, while also playing its earnestness straight down the middle. Brilliant.

    Its kick-ass cast includes Johnson’s band of mercenaries, not least a wizened Ian McShane, as great a tough-talking actor as the small screen has ever seen and nearly as great on the big. A trio of regal actresses enhance the mostly male and primarily British cast. In short, the Rock, a bunch of Brits and several hotties is surefire casting for a sword & sandal extravaganza like this.

    Savvy, funny, exciting, grand: popcorn flicks should all be as heroically great as Ratner, Johnson and Moore’s Hercules. How about another? Twelve may be asking too many, but we are talking Hercules.

  3. Great 4.0

    Dwayne Johnson trained intensely for six months to play Hercules, pumping himself up to 280lbs of Olympian rock. So what if his line readings aren’t as well chiseled as his body. He’s damn near as likable as Mark Wahlberg and even more buff. Mostly this has to be viewed as a physical performance, a role that few have the guns to play. The Rock – pity he doesn’t call himself that anymore – pumps up to the occasion.

    Hercules’ Band of Mercenaries
    • Ian McShane as an addled prophet: McShane is in fine form and strong voice, always a treat. He gets some great lines and moments.
    • Rufus Sewell as Hercules’ boyhood friend, grown into his brother-in-arms
    • Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as an Amazonian warrior named Atalanta: Confusing, right? Greece, South America, Georgia? Which is it? Anyway Miss Berdal looks like a buff Nicole Kidman, a very good look indeed.
    • Aksel Hennie as a war mute thief and nutcase who has a special bond with Hercules: Hennie excels at playing unattractive thieves, notably as Headhunter #1 in Headhunters.
    • Reece Ritchie as the nephew of Hercules, who excels at telling the stories of Hercules more than fighting in his battles: Ritchie looks like a young Emile Hirsch.

    Irina Shayk gets viewed in flashback as Hercules’ luscious wife, a descendent of whom would go on to become a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit star and wife of Cristiano Ronaldo, the top paid footballer.

    • John Hurt as a Lord who wants to be King
    • Tobias Santelmann as a revolutionary voicing proto-republican sentiments
    • Rebecca Ferguson as a beautiful Princess & Mother
    • Isaac Andrews as her adorable little boy
    • Peter Mullan as a bad General
    The Athenian
    • Joseph Fiennes as a slick King
  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Great 4.0
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Really Great 4.5

    Hercules and the Thracian War should be the title, yet is relegated to an inside joke in Brett Ratner’s film. That’s a niggling bone to pick, as this film is pretty much perfect, a tremendous credit to Ratner and company, especially Ryan Condal & Evan Spiliotopoulos’s screenplay from Steve Moore’s breakthrough comic Hercules: The Thracian Wars.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0

    I’m no Ratner fan, nor a hater. Hell, I’ve never seen a single Rush Hour, not 1, 2 or 3. But the Bling King from Miami Beach has hit himself an out of the park home run with Hercules. Hail to him.

  10. Play Great 4.0

    Steve Moore died a few months ago, so any sequels will likely have to be derived from his existing comics.

  11. Music Great 4.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0

    The city and temple of Thrace deserve to go straight into the Movie Set Hall of Fame, as does the brief shot of Athens in all her glory. Wow.

    Lots of different classes of TDs, including “Robes & Skins TDs”, five of them.

  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.4

    The savage violence means tiny tykes shouldn’t see Hercules, though that didn’t stop several sets of parents from bringing their little ones to my late show.

  15. Sex Innocent 1.4
  16. Violence Savage 3.7
  17. Rudeness Salty 2.0
  18. Surreal 2.9

    Hercules presents as merely surreal, a very becoming cinematic modesty in a superhero movie. Hercules’ main power is superhuman strength. He’s humanity’s archetypal strongman. Happily, Brett Ratner chose to not push much beyond that conceit.

  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.8
  20. Biological Supernatural 3.9
  21. Physical Surreal 2.1


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