Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dwayne Johnson makes for a great, Herculean rock

Movie Title:   Hercules
PG-13, 2 hours

Grade:  B

In a Nutshell:   The Rock. Man, that guy is huge…like a Herculean rock.  Dwayne Johnson proudly proclaimed in a recent interview “I was born to place this role.”  He definitely makes for an impressive and believable demigod.

The movie begins, “You think you know the truth about him?  You know nothing.”  Yeah, except that we JUST finished watching The Legend Of Hercules a few months ago in the theater, although  that version was terrible.  (Read my movie review of that one here.)  

Timed perfectly for ComiCon, this version of the legendary man of strength includes a lot of bloodied, grimy, and determined bad guys full of testosterone, as well as a frequent yelling of the enraged “AAAH!” before battle scenes.  There is enough humor and action to keep you engaged, but it’s not as epic as I had hoped for.  It vacillates between wanting to be a tongue-in-cheek retelling of mythology and an attempt at seriously recreating the legend.

If you love the idea of Dwayne Johnson fighting in a leather skirt, you’ll definitely enjoy this action flick.  If you’re looking for deep insights into the Greek man of myth, you probably won’t find it here.   After all of the versions I’ve seen, I think the old Disney animation of Hercules is still the best!

Uplifting theme: 
  • “You have it within yourself to write your own legacy.”  - Hercules
  • “You don’t need to be a demigod to be a hero.  You only have to believe you’re a hero.”  - Amphiaraus

Things I liked:
  • The trailer features some amazing feats of strength, so I figured they were probably the best the movie had to offer.  The good news is that there is a lot more where that’s coming from.  The bad news is that you don’t get to see any more cool, mythical monsters after the first 10 minutes of the film.
  • It doesn’t take itself too seriously and has a sense of humor.
  • The 3D version enhanced some of the scenes, but not in a gimmicky way.
  • The aerial views during battles were cool and even helpful to see what was going on.
  • There is a classic Mulan montage as the local farmers train to become a fearsome army of skilled soldiers.
  • The lion CGI was amazing and I love the lion “helmet” souvenir Hercules wears throughout the movie.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Lots of bloody bodies and charred corpses.  Realistic, but ICK.
  • It cracked me up when baby Hercules’ pudgy little arm reaches up towards a painting of Zeus in the beginning of the movie.  Pretty cheesy.  It actually made me laugh out loud.
  • I know there was some CGI involved, but I always feel bad for the horses in battle scenes, especially when they fall down or get hurt. 
  • While the actress Ingrid Bolso Berdal is lovely and talented, I would have cast a taller, more buff fighter to play the Amazon woman Atalanta.
  • Hercules utters the one F-bomb in the movie.  Gee, thanks…great role model for our kids.
  • My 14 year old son and his friends liked it, but they thought it ended too soon.  Their complaint was that there were only a couple of really good battle scenes and then it was over.
  • It would have been kind of fun to see the retired professional wrestler actually get down and wrestle a bad guy in the film.

Did you know?
  • It took three hours every day in make-up to transform Dwayne Johnson into the mighty Hercules with long locks and a beard.  His beard was made from Yak’s hairy balls.  Ick.  He couldn’t have just grown his own beard?  They mostly covered up his large shoulder/chest tattoo with make-up and leather.
  • Did you notice the classic Samson & Delilah moment when Hercules knocks down the pillars and walls of the temple?  I’m surprised they haven’t ever done a remake for that old classic movie.  I loved it as a little girl.
  • Norwegian-born Ingrid Bolso Berdal studied jazz singing in college.   You most recently saw her in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters as one of the witches.
  • Hercules was actually born a twin.  His brother Iphicles is never mentioned in the film.

Interesting lines:
  • “The king of this land has offered me gold to dispose of you.  You can leave or die.  I get paid either way.”  - Hercules
  • “How we see ourselves doesn’t matter.  How others see us is what’s important.”  - Amphiaraus    (Maybe I wrote that line wrong?  Shouldn’t that be the other way around?)
  • “Kingdoms are won by armies, but empires are built with alliances.”  - Lord Cotys

Funny lines:
  • “A pair of breasts is more persuasive than gold.”  - Atalanta
“Yeah, but gold doesn’t age.”  - Sitacles

  • “I hope the enemy has a sense of humor.” – Autolycus
  • “If you’re lucky, you’ll go to Hades where all the fun people are.” – Autolycus
  • “Don’t just stand there…kill someone!”  - Autolycus

Tips for parents:  Lots and lots of blood, violence, profanity, sexual innuendo.  Hercules’ gorgeous wife (Russian model Irina Shayk) is not in very many scenes, but when she is, you see a lot of her…if you know what I mean…she strips off a light cloak, revealing her entire back side.  Hercules’ beautiful, young mother wears a practically see-through dress in the beginning of the movie.  No wonder Hera was so jealous of Alcmene.  Shame on Zeus.

Other versions of Hercules you might enjoy are:

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