Darke Reviews | Hercules (2014)

Two Hercules movies in one year. I have said since January this one with the Rock could not suck nearly as bad as the first one. If you missed my review for that (I haven’t figured out how to link to FB yet…) its in the review history here on Everything Except Shoes. It sucked. It sucked so bad. It may be one of the worst movies of the year. Not the worst, that may be Transformers 4 or Brick Mansions, but its up there (down there). Enough on the past. A wise monkey told me the past can hurt. Let’s move on.

The Rock, lets face it was born to play Hercules. Did he do it?

I promised in the Lucy review that there was a similarity that was diametrically opposed. The trailers are it. The trailers for Hercules ultimately were a failure and a blessing for the movie. It succeeded so successfully in hiding what the movie really is about. What story it tells that I had all the wrong expectations going in. This is both good and bad. It is very very good that they didn’t give anything away. So nice job guys. It’s bad in that it set up the wrong story in peoples minds. You will go in expecting one thing and will come out with another. That’s not usually a good thing as those expectations can be damaging if you really wanted one thing but got another that didn’t interest you. The movie, for me, works in that I went in expecting little but got more.

From a story standpoint, if you take The Losers, A Knights Tale, and King Arthur and put them in a blender. The resulting puree is this film. That should create some interesting visuals for those familiar with those films. It verges on my no spoiler territory a bit, but I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out what that combination brings.

I think the director could have been anyone. Probably should have been too, but I have a sort of hate for Brett Ratner and his homophobia. Most sane people do, but that’s tied to his horrific films. If you remember X3? I am sorry. If you don’t remember it – count your blessings. He was the director called in and who made many of the decisions that nearly buried the X-Men franchise. He also gave us all the Rush Hour movies even as they grew less funny.

I’d love nothing more than to say he bombed here. Sadly I can’t. He didn’t. The action is decent. The camera shots are good. The overall production is good. Some of the FX were deplorable, but you can’t have it all. Well you can, just not with this movie.

The movie is absolutely carried by its cast. Dwayne Johnson WAS in fact born to play Hercules. He gives Will Smith a run for his money as the most charismatic man on the planet. He might even beat him after the insomnia solving After Earth. What surprised me is how much the supporting cast meets him on the battlefield of charm and entertainment. They elevate the film to the next level in a way Johnson hasn’t had his last few movies. Ian McShane (Kings, Deadwood, Death Race) is in full form and allows his eye brows as his own supporting actors. He is just fun in the yoda like role he has. The surprise humor is from Knights Tale and Dark City star Rufus Sewell. He must be following the Ian MCShane handbook, but just keeps bringing a bloody smile to my face.

I’d also like to commend Ingrid Bolso Berdal as Atalanta. She’s kinda awesome in the action sequences and is worth watching. I Hope she gets a good career in action movies going forward. She sold it and has some potential.

Now…story. It’s interesting, but so cliche’d its painful. CinemaSins will have a field day once he gets his hands on it. At one point the person I saw it with started singing “I’ll make a man out of you”, which was followed by me saying “Rohim, Ride!”. We even get a Han Solo moment at the bridge between Act II and III. It’s just wow in that moment.

Alright, TL;DR?

Hercules is a fun little romp. Its more entertaining than it has any real right to be and I am not 100% certain it’s not a fluke that it is. It’s formulaic as all Hades, but I am strangely comfortable with it. It doesn’t do too much new with its plot, but does some new things.

If you want to largely turn your brain off for an hour and a half and have time to kill go see this.

Kids? Eh 10 and up and you should be good.

This movie surprised me folks. It was just kinda fun.

Next week – I will see Guardians of the Galaxy.

Darke Reviews | Legend of Hercules (2014)

The world, my readers, everyone owes me for this one. Brace yourselves, my review is coming. Not since Die Hard 5 have I felt this way about a film. My cohort tonight thought it was better than she expected, however that scale was against something like Sharknado. Me…well let’s go through the usual breakdown shall we.

The director, Renny Harlin, who is best known for some of my favourite films of the 90s. He can claim Die Hard 2, Long Kiss Goodnight and Cutthroat Island. He can even claim Jaws 2000 er …Deep Blue Sea. He also can claim underrated films like The Covenant, Driven and Mindhunters. Sadly Cliffhanger is in his credits as well. Now, after watching his take on Hercules I have but a few lingering thoughts about this once brilliant action director.

One, did Uwe Boll challenge Harlin to a boxing match and cause brain damage? Did Uwe Boll perhaps kill Harlin and begin impersonating him. Did he hear the song transcendental dream and the line “I’d rather have this bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy” and go “Let’s try both!” These are but some of the likely possibilities for how this film turned out. Sad to say that I think some of Boll’s films are actually better.

Of course no film of this caliber is complete without its script. There are four writing credits and if you’ve read my reviews before you know what that means. We Daniel Giat on his first (and likely last) feature film. Giulio Steve (as IMDB credits him) an Italian producer with his first and only credit for writing. Harlin himself who has minimal experience in this field; which may explain a few things. Sean Hood is the final credit. He has a written by on the recent Conan adaptation and screenplay credits on the 4th Crow movie Wicked Prayer. By some chance and random boredom one day I watched that travesty of film and waste of celluloid and investor dollars. It explains, in its raw derivativeness (that should be a word) what I witnessed tonight.

Please good readers know that I fell on my spear for you. I bore witness to this abomination and did not walk out. This is how much I love you. I watched a film in which the writers and director clearly had this conversation:

“You know that scene from Troy?”
“Use it.”
“You know that shooting style of 300?”
“Use it.”
“What about Immortals? I mean it kinda ripped off 300 but had Gods.”
“Use it.”
“How about this epic shot from 300?”
“Use it.”
“Can we use this shot from the 300 sequel that hasn’t even come out yet?”
‘Sure. Then we can claim we did it first.”

This conversation clearly happened shortly after some drug addled producer at Summit and Millennium films drank themselves into a stupor on the worst possible grain alcohol they could find. These two sloshed and brain damaged individuals heard the Rock was making a Hercules movie and thought they could make one too. It might confuse audiences and perhaps even make them some money on the side. It could ruin the Rocks chances (as if). Much like before, these are the explanations I must surmise from that festering pile of film that was shown tonight.

Every year there are two films that it’s clear are ripped off one another. It’s only a challenge to figure out which came first and which is the rip off. Last year was White House Explosions, this year it is Hercules.

Surely the acting held some redeeming value? You can ask yourself that now. Its ok I understand. Sadly Kellan Lutz (Hercules) may have found that his career peaked with his role in the twilight films. I can believe he took acting lessons on range from Kristen Stewart. Oh his body is fine to look at and you are given opportunity after opportunity after opportunity to watch it; but the boy just cannot act. Stewart is a better actress. You know how hard that is to write? No one else in the cast is even worth mentioning aside from the unknown actress who plays his love interest. Gaia Weiss (Princess Hebe) actually shows more range and emotion than the movie deserves. She also takes more personal action than anyone else in the film. Despite the fact there were at least three scenes the costumer clearly confused this girls costume with that from the She-Ra Princess of Power costume Gaia is actually worth watching once or twice.

Technicals? Don’t hold your breath. I knew how bad this film was going to be when the computer generated archers were firing shot after shot without even getting new arrows from their quivers. Completely arbitrary and abysmally rendered computer overlays of characters and backgrounds took you right out of the experience in just how bad they were. SyFy does a better job blending their actors with the movie events. Then there’s the lightning whip sword scene. Let those words sink in a moment as I move to the 3D rendering.

If anyone actually goes to see this en masse it could destroy the 3D market for movies everywhere. Every bit of the usage was a gimmick. Chains, Blocks, spears, arrows coming at you. The artist was also obsessed with Motes of dust and flower pollen on screen at all times. I think it was an addiction. More Dots he cried! Then the orderlies came and gave him his sedatives. The rendering was so bad in post-production there were parts of frames that were still blurry WITH the 3D glasses on. I didn’t even know that was possible.

Alright, how to sum this up.


As I have had time to really dwell on the film I can say that the smell of curdled milk has more appeal. The raw, festering, bilious mass that took up two hours of my night tonight gives me hope for one thing alone.

That if this putrid production is how the year opens it can only get better from here.

Avoid this film. Do not redbox it. Do not Netflix it. Don’t even try to watch it through other means. Just….don’t. You will thank me for it.

Now, please excuse me I need to pour some acid into my sinus cavity and find a power drill to get this thing out of my head.