Hercules is a character known to all of us in some fashion.
To the Greeks he was son of Zeus, to film goers of the 1950s he was a clean cut superhero played by Steve Reeves, and in the 70s and 80s he was a musclebound hero played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno who fought the fantastic, while somehow managing to be slightly on the camp side. In the 90s the campiness continued with Sam Raimi’s very tongue in cheek interpretation for TV with Kevin Sorbo, having a whale of a time smashing up the mythical scenery.
Even Marvel Comics gave us a version of the character, who has played a number of important roles in the Marvel universe. This year we have two new versions of the classic myth in theaters. The first has already been released was called The Legend of Hercules and starred Kellan Lutz, and it did not fare as well. This next version by Paramount Pictures will be hoping for a better box office performance and with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the driver’s seat, they may just be able to pull it off.
The story (based on the comic book Hercules: The Thracian Wars) follows Hercules after his famous 12 labours, and shows him as a bitter and twisted figure after the loss of his family and all the suffering he has gone through over the years. Now more a mercenary than a hero, he is hired by the King of Thrace to train his army in the ways of murder. But will Hercules and his band of killers find out just how far they have fallen when they take on this task or will they dive into it with only money and mayhem on their minds?
In what could be considered a wise move for the action movie crowd, Paramount has rammed this trailer full of Dwayne Johnson. He dominates the screen, so much so in fact that no other actor or actress is seen (other than in voice over) within the entire trailer. With pros such as Ian McShane, John Hurt and Joseph Fiennes on board, we can only hope that they get some screen time in the next trailer. Dwayne looks incredible, with an even bigger muscle mass than normal and the iconic lions maine head gear taken right from the comic book. He definitely looks the part, and the grittiness of his general attire certainly goes a long way towards reinforcing this new, darker version of the hero.
Various scenes in the trailer reinforce the ongoing trend for darker films from Hollywood, with shots of a chained Hercules and a scene showing a mass grave of dead bodies, taking it farther away from camp and comical stylings of the Arnie and Lou movies. People want to see Hercules in action, and the trailer does not disappoint in that regard with a lion, boar and a sea creature all causing Hercules some problems.
Overall it all looks rather promising, but more interaction with the other cast members and a chance to see Dwayne unleash his acting chops as well as his muscle makes another trailer a must in our eyes. However, even though X-Men: The Last Stand was a few years ago, the wounds it caused for certain film goers are not soon forgotten, so this could be Brett Ratner’s chance to win back some comic fanboys. He certainly knows how to construct an action scene, but with the failing of the newest Hercules movie still fresh in people’s minds, it will be interesting to see if this film can keep the myth of Hercules alive or if he will once again disappear from our screens.
Hercules: The Thracian Wars hits theaters on July 25th in the States and August 8th in the UK.