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HERCULES 2D & 3D (2014)

SYNOPSIS:
Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) was born with the strength of a god yet feels the suffering of a human. Notorious for his larger-than-life exploits, but haunted by his past, Hercules has become a wandering mercenary, cashing in on his legend with a brash group of loyal followers. But now, as he undertakes a bold campaign to end the bloody civil war in the land of Thrace and return the rightful king to his throne, he is pushed to his own incredible limits, when his mythical powers and thirst for justice are tested.

Review by Louise Keller:
It's the humanising of Hercules - demi-god, mercenary and legend - as he combats betrayal, treachery and revenge, that gives this big budget spectacular an appealing point of difference. With the aptly cast Dwayne Johnson as the heroic Hercules, muscles quivering and sheer brute strength on display, the inner demons of the world-weary half son of Zeus bring personal grit and purpose to the tale, as flaming arrows soar, scythes and swords thrust and clubs swing through bloody battles. The script is surprisingly good with story twists, layered relationships and wry humour that pops up unexpectedly. The use of 3D is good, too - with arrows aimed straight for the audience, who will probably duck - like I did.

After a brief prologue that puts Hercules in context historically and demonstrates his courage and strength using nothing but his bare hands, the tale, set in 358BC Macedonia begins. The life of a mercenary is tough and all Hercules craves, is to get anough gold in order to lead a quieter life. I like the way the dynamics of Hercules' close inner circle is revealed - they are like a travelling theatre group, who use weapons as well as words to promote their hero. Rufus Sewell is terrific as Autolyus, who trains the army of farmers needed for their new quest, while Norwegian actor Aksel Hennie (Headhunters) puts us off balance as the mute human target Tydeus. There's also Ingrid Boso Berdal as the ace-shot shapely Amazonian warrior and Reece Ritchie as Hercules' storyteller nephew, who wants to swap words for a sword. Most appealing (and humorous) is Ian McShane as the cynical seer who keeps (wrongly) predicting his own death.

The story involves a quest in which Hercules agrees to help a Princess, (Rebecca Ferguson) whose father (John Hurt), the King of Thrace is at war with a sorcerer Rhesus (Tobias Santelmann) and his army of centaurs. Many of the myths are dispelled, which brings the tale down to earth. Watch out for Joseph Fiennes who has two highly memorable scenes. He is superb, injecting a Shakespearian feel to the proceedings. There is no scene more powerful than the one in which Hercules responds to the question 'Who are you' with actions that speak far louder than words.

Director Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand) does a fine job in pulling together all the elements as the sheer drama of the spectacle explodes on screen, ending with tumbling giant statues and a dazzling sea of fire. But it is Johnson who is the big draw-card and who makes this Hercules - dare I say - nearly human?

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

HERCULES 2D & 3D (2014) (M)
(US, 2014)

CAST: Dwayne Johnson, Irina Shay, Rebecca Ferguson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Joseph Fiennes, Rufus Sewell, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal

PRODUCER: Sarah Aubrey, Beau Flynn, Barry Levine, Brett Ratner

DIRECTOR: Brett Ratner

SCRIPT: Ryan Condal, Evan Spiliotopoulos

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dante Spinotti

EDITOR: Mark Helfrich

MUSIC: Fernando Velázquez

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jean-Vincent Puzos

RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 24, 2014







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