SciFridays: “Hercules” (2014)

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Paramount Pictures

Baddie – Word of mouth.

Lesson – Make sure the biggest guy in the room is on your side.

I’m baaaaaack~! (I mean, yes, I’ve recapped two episodes of “The Strain” already, but SciFridays is back from hiatus! And boy howdy do I have a packed schedule. Today we get to do Hercules, next week Sharktopus v. Pteracuda, Guardians of the Galaxy AND Sharknado 2! Plus, as promised, August is Shark Month, so I’ll be plodding through every single Jaws movie. Good lord.

ALRIGHT! So, I just moved to San Antonio, and I went to the movies by myself so that was cool. Even better, a tiny blonde and her boyfriend sat next to me, and the tiny blonde made little gasps and uttered tiny curse-words when anything dramatic happened. It totally made my night.

Hercules, directed by Brett Ratner and starring of course Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, was an utter delight. I’ll admit, I had super low expectations going in, like, super low. Mostly because I had suffered through the Kellan Lutz nightmare of a Hercules film that was kind of a family-film gone horribly horribly awry. All I wanted out of this movie was a sequel to The Scorpion King set in Greece. Fortunately for me, I got that and then some. So piece by piece, let’s examine.

Plot: I would be afraid of spoilers, but I think that the actual plot is MUCH better than the plot they portrayed in trailers, where Hercules is fighting the Gods because they slaughtered his family. Blah blah, that’s boring. Really, Hercules is in fact the stuff of fiction, and we learn very quickly that “Hercules” is in fact Hercules + a smattering of fighters and a good storyteller. It works perfectly. The nobility of Hercules is a pain in the butt to manage. No one cares about him after the 12 Labors, that’s why Disney had a growing Hercules. A fallible Hercules. Johnson’s Hercules is somewhat of a reluctant hero, but it doesn’t weigh the character down too much. He’s more like a realistic hero, he knows the contextual limitations of scenarios and he’s courageous none the less.

There are a few twists and turns, most of them delightfully placed. Actually, the whole movie was wonderfully paced with moments of “I knew it!” and genuine surprise, I was quite happy to let myself get sucked in. There are dark moments and sad moments and really funny moments, and this is all spread out fairly evenly between each character which is kind of unique. There are two whole women in the movie, one of them a strong mother and the other a fierce warrior. Neither are sexualized as characters, which is super refreshing.

This guy is my favorite. http://bit.ly/1rB69ke

Paramount Pictures
This guy is my favorite.

Sets, Costumes, Makeup: Costuming was pretty standard Greek Movie, with the women flittering around in crepe satin with free swinging bosoms and the men in leather skirts and armor. There was a fair amount of assuit, which is a fabric that has metal bits hammered and woven in, which was very nice to see. Most of the prosthetics were well done, with only one significant instance of ‘Hey that was bleeding and now there’s no wound’. Sets were simple, only a few significant places. I will say the dungeon was like, heavily romanticized and I kinda loved it.

So really my only problem was Atlanta’s armor, because it was stupid and incongruous. Forgive my gender podium, but why the midriff? Why the Madonna pointy boobs? Neither are stylistically appealing nor battle ready. She could have worn a lot of things, but a Xena knockoff costume in red leather would not have been my first choice.

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Paramount Pictures

Acting: Which brings us to the actual acting. It was, for like, maybe 90% of the film, really decent. Johnson has to actually emote quite dramatically and he managed to do that without looking dumb like…most of the time. Rebecca Ferguson had a really touching, heart-strings-type deal that was really well done. Dialogue wasn’t anything special, but it didn’t detract, either.

Misc: Soundtrack was good, sweeping and bellowing when it needed to be, absent when it didn’t. There was actually a fair amount of subtle detail throughout the movie, which was really great. It’s always fun to catch a little nod here and there, whether it’s to earlier plot points or external references. My personal favorite being when Hercules is fighting the hydra in the swamp, which evokes vivid “Tarzan” memories.

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Paramount Pictures

The movie itself felt a bit like a television show, maybe because it was well-rounded and not singularly focused? It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why, a re-watch might narrow it down, but I didn’t hate it. It made the time pass really quickly, added to the ‘good pace’ feeling, because it was kind of episodic without being choppy.

All in all, I would definitely recommend going to see it. It’s a good time, highly entertaining without being overly stupid or cheesy. My favorite part was when Hercules flips an empty horse cart into an onslaught of enemies.

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