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Brett Ratner's Hercules can be considered a more family-friendly version of the Greek tale and Sword And Sandal genre. It removes the more controversial elements like bisexuality and severely tone downs the blood, gore and nudity compared to other recent epics like 300 and Immortals. Personally, I think at least toning down the violence and nudity adds to the film since it does not rely on that to carry it.
Dwayne Johnson makes a surprisingly good Hercules. He has the build and unlike a lot of musclemen he is a decent actor. Ian Mcshane, Rufus Sewell, John Hurt, and others round out the film to make an all in all enjoyable cast. They ham it up at times, but it works in this film.
The biggest issue is the idea that Hercules's feats, while to an extent true and legendary, have been exaggerated to build up both his legend and that nobody believes the truth since it is so fantastic. I think this was a good angle to bring to the film and I only wish it had been explore more. Not much was done with it or at least not as much as could have been. If you were to ask which is the true Hercules: the legend or the man? I would have to say both. Hercules is presented as fully living up to his legend including his strength. Maybe all of the monsters were not mythical or accomplished on their own. Any guy who can kill five men with a single club swing, walk off being stabbed in the back, and rip chains out of stone is superhuman in my book. So to me it left it ambiguous as to whether or not Hercules was a demigod or fully mortal and the end may have been right that in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter much. Hercules is still a hero of great strength who persevered against all odds.
That isn't to say I don't have a few grips. A few nitpicks about it being the Iron Age instead of Bronze, Roman shields, and a couple of others. I sort of wish they had explored a bit about the mythical pasts of the others. All of these are minor.
Is this a great film? I would say no, but for me it is far better than the other recent Greek myth films like Clash of the Titans remake, Wraith Of The Titans, and Immortals. It captures the spirit of Hercules with acting that is not wooden and a hero who is focused on more than mere revenge. I would recommend this for anyone who likes this style of film.
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