|Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) in search of the Hydra|
Hercules was directed by Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, X-Men: The Last Stand, Tower Heist, Horrible Bosses), who has a penchant for overblown actioners, and based on a comic book Hercules: The Thracian Wars by Steve Moore. While some critics have complained that the famous labors of Hercules which spin by quickly in the film's trailer appear just as quickly in the film, that is not quite a fair criticism. It is true that this version of Hercules's story tends to spin the Greek hero's legend on its head, portraying Hercules as just one member of a team of elite mercenaries. The band of brothers (and one sister), with the aid of some skillful publicity, has spun the story of his godly parentage and fantastic exploits to their great (monetary) reward. But fans of Greek mythology will notice some sly nods to both Herc's adventures as well as some other famous Greek heroes — and the movies made about them — especially in a powerful scene where warriors rise from the ground a la the classic Jason and the Argonauts. And what is mythology anyway, but a constant reinterpretation of a classic story?
|The Nemean Lion hat and club are just too cool|
"I trained and worked harder than ever for 8 months for this role. Lived alone and locked myself away (like a moody 260-lb. monk) in Budapest for 6 months while filming. Goal was to completely transform into this character. Disappear in the role. Press journalist asked me today, with the mental & physical toll the role had on me, would I do it again? Not only would I do it again ... I'd do it f*cking twice."As fun as it is to watch Johnson take on the role of Greek's strongest hero, what really makes the film are all the wonderful actors that surround him. Hercules's traveling companions include Ian McShane as the seer Amphiaraus (who also knows how to wield a long spear); Rufus Sewell as the smart-talking Autolycus, who is very handy with a blade; Norwegian actors Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as the huntress Atalanta, whose bow can be used to take down enemies as much as her arrows, and Aksel Hennie as Tydeus, who suffers from an ancient form of PTSD; and Reece Ritchie as Iolaus, his young nephew, whose tales of his uncle's exploits serve as his calling card. The group forms a tight unit, and their humor and camaraderie helps make them a more convincing and engaging group of super-heroes than the Avengers.
|The gang's all here: L-R: (Tydeus) Aksel Hennie, (Atalanta) Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Hercules, Iolaus (Reece Ritchie), Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), and Amphiaraus (Ian McShane)|
|So lovely to see you: John Hurt as Lord Cotys|
Although everyone adds to the proceedings, Ian McShane almost steals the show with his wry Amphiaraus, who has prophesied his own death, but so far hasn't seemed to time it precisely:
[A flaming javelin comes flying towards Amphiaraus, who spreads his arms wide, ready to receive the blow]The rugged locations (filming was done in Hungary and Croatia) add a lot to the atmosphere, but it is the non-stop action, Johnson's huge musculature, and clever twists on a well-known story that really make Hercules so much fun.
Amphiaraus, "My time ..."
[Hercules runs past him, grabs the javelin, and throws it back]
Amphiaraus, "Do you mind? I was having a moment!"
Hercules, "You're welcome."