Monday, 28 July 2014

Geek Girl Review: Hercules

By Courtney Lockhart 

It’s been awhile since a team has attempted to bring the legend of Hercules to the big screen. Even longer since a live action version. The last live action Hercules most of us remember  involves Kevin Sorbo running around Greece with  Bruce Campbell. It is a tricky prospect that needs the right effects, the right cast and the right story.  Brett Ratner didn’t manage a perfect score in any category, but definitely tried to strike a balance.

When it comes to the story, there is one aspect that is sure to divide the audience: There are NO gods. This Hercules ( Dwayne Johnson)  is a mercenary. The legends surrounding him are all the work of either the hero’s storyteller nephew Iolaus (Reece Ritchie) , or misconceptions he never bothered correcting since they were good for business.   So how does he actually get things done if he isn’t a demi-god? Hercules has a scooby gang!  The see-er Amphiaraus ( Ian McShane), amazonian archer Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), spartan thief Autolycus (Rufus Sewell) and mute warrior Tydeus. (Aksel Hennie)  The film follows the team as they embark on the classic trope of ‘one last job before retirement’: protecting Trace  and it’s royal family (John Hurt, Rebecca Ferguson and Isaac Andrews)  from a bloodthirsty warlord names Rhesus. (Tobias Santelmann) I found the plot, loosely based on the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars by Steve Moore, moderately predictable. I could see the complications and problems coming a mile away, but couldn’t figure out the solutions quite as easily.  

Ian McShane absolutely steals the show and provides much needed lightness to the piece.  The rest of the cast, similar to the audience I was watching with, seemed to forget that action movies are allowed to have humour in them. Dwayne Johnson, who is known for being a extremely charismatic performer, confuses stoicism with stilted delivery until the film’s climax.

I rarely find a film that has used 3D as well as this one did. It was not merely added depth as it was in Captain America: The Winter Solider and there were no cheap ‘reaching into the audience’ gags.  The extra effects were used to swirl the action around you and made the battles visually stunning. Extra points for not using shaky cam. The action sweeps smoothly from one point of view to another without going so fast to upset movie-goers with motion sensitivity.  

In the era of the deconstructed fairy tale, this Hercules is another case of trying to make the mythical manageable.  The result is a film that is a bit lacklustre but still an enjoyable way to spend 98 minutes.

Courtney Lockhart lives in the west end of Ottawa with her husband and step-cat.  She is polishing her skills to pursue one of her dream careers as either a costume drama character, Torchwood operative or executive assistant to a billionaire vigilante. You can follow her daily mission to DFTBA on Twitter @corastacy.

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