REEL REVIEW: Hercules, Lucy bring action to theaters this weekend

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POSTED: Friday, July 25, 2014 - 8:35pm

UPDATED: Friday, July 25, 2014 - 8:37pm

Hercules

He is the son of Zeus. He has accomplished the 12 labors including taking on that pesky multi-headed Hydra, but yet it's time for Hercules to hit the big screen in a big way in the form of "The Rock," although one cannot refer to him as that anymore, as he is now serious actor Dwayne Johnson. Can one take this film seriously? Well.. here goes..

So we find Hercules, who is in this case, directed by Brett Ratner, who very cleverly directed X-Men, is a little more man than myth. He is haunted by his past, he works for gold, and he and his fellow men, and there are five of them all of the time, are now out to save Thrace and it's Thracians in an all out Civil War.

What works for the film is the human side, as Ratner is smart enough to cast real thespians like Ian McShane who steals the show, John Hurt as King Cotys, the leader of Thrace and Reece Ritchie, who provides a narrative throughout the film so that you actually know what is going on if let's say, mythology is simply not your thing. Classically trained actors add to the film, and compliment Johnson, so he can simply glare and brood whenever necessary. Hercules must be chock full of steel and clearly by our standards, consumes nothing more than Whey Protein shakes.

What makes this film work is knowing in advance it is not longer than 90 minutes. There are good performances and incredible cinematography, and if you saw the 3-D Trailer, you know what I mean. Hercules' weapons have to appear as if they are part of his body, and nobody does that better than Dwayne Johnson. When it's raining spears at one point, it almost hurts to watch. One must be heavily dressed in armor, except for the actress who plays Atalanta, and of course being a scantily clad female warrior works well for her.

The bottom line is that the movie is fine, the actors surrounding Hercules compliment him and they help set the stage for the storyline. Again, the film is not long, but it is bloody and you have to pay attention so you can figure out who is whom!

This is just summer fun... maybe not for younger kids, but with those 3-D glasses "The Rock" ( using my outside voice), is larger than life. Can he smash the simian success of "The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?" Stay tuned.
 

Lucy

I first discovered Scarlett Johansen's prowess as an actress in the 2003 film "Lost in Translation," with Bill Murray. She has come along way having done everything from work with Woody Allen, to transforming into a Marvel Comic Super Heroine and even the voice of the loving computer in "Her." Lucy appeared to set her career in motion to become the "Dirty Harry" of actresses on the screen, and who better than Director Luc Besson ( The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita) to make all of this happen with intense "chick power." Here is the problem... it doesn't..

And here's why.... The film is way too complicated and with so many back stories it is absolutely impossible to follow. Yes she is rough and tough and her first assignment is to deliver "the goods" to Chinese gangsters. Morgan Freeman, thank goodness, is on her side, and he should be on anyone's side who wants to survive, but the storyline is so confusing and then it appears that she begins to shoot and kill all of the wrong people. Then she is disturbingly beaten up by bad guys and then there is this whole brain power thing that is the underlying theme of the film. I think this was designed to make this film more cerebral? In the midst of the confusion we learn that we only use ten percent of our brain, and alas, there is a super drug that can change all of that? That's where I became totally lost, and fondly remembered how "Limitless," with Bradley Cooper was actually a good movie.

Scarlett is consistent if anything in this film. She is not dressed to kill but to attract. She is sort of robot-like in all of her delivery. She has a gun and knows how to use it.. This film could score at the box office with the sex appeal alone, even if people leave the theaters scratching their heads.

I think Luc Besson was trying to accomplish too many things here. This film is not sure what it wants to be... action or drama or thought provoking or violent or sexy all of the above. Suffice to say that I could not figure any of out, and thus, ran out of Twizzlers.

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