Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: Hercules (2014)

Before I get started here, I should probably note that I have a soft sport for this particular sub-genre.  As a kid, I spent way too much time watching movies like Conan the Barbarian, The Beastmaster, and I even enjoyed those wacky Lou Ferrigno Hercules movies.  Okay, I confess: I also found time to watch Conan the Destroyer.  Forgive me.  I'm also a big fan of Dwayne Johnson, though I haven't enjoyed his movies as much as his work in the wrestling ring as the Rock.  Now, he was awesome in Pain & Gain and his first feature, The Rundown, showed a lot of promise.  Yet many of his choices have been a bit too generic for my taste, and as much as I dig these "swords and sandals" affairs, it's hard for me to get too fired up about anything directed by Brett Ratner.  So, my expectations were low going into this one and that may explain why I enjoyed it more than many of my peers.  Hey, it's no masterpiece, not by a long shot, and the end is a bit of a CGI clusterfuck, but I'm still going to recommend it.  First off, Ian McShane was a joy to watch as he gobbled up the scenery and stole pretty much every scene he was in.  Secondly, there's a wicked battle scene in the middle of the film that is certainly worth seeing, even if it does make that lackluster finish even more of a disappointment by comparison.  Finally, the notion of foregoing the mythical aspect of the title character's legacy and telling a somewhat grounded and action-driven story worked for me.  Alluding to the twelve labors many Hercules tales center on as little more than hyperbole and even casting doubt on his lineage, this Hercules is sort of a poor man's 300.  Thankfully it avoids the gimmicks that made that picture so unique--and that so many movies have done their best to ape ever since Zack Snyder hit the scene.  Ratner did an okay job, Johnson didn't have to flex his acting muscles all that much, but he also performed well, and the supporting cast was a joy to watch.  In conclusion, it's a shame the ending wasn't stronger, as the first two acts of this film were surprisingly fierce and highly entertaining.

Final Grade: C
"Come, let us layeth the smack down upon their asses!"

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