hercules (rock)Watching this, I laughed every time the kingdom of Thrace was mentioned, thinking of Zero Mostel’s famous movie gag line (“He raped Thrace thrice?”). And when an entire army starts chanting the hero’s name (“Hercules! Hercules!”) I laughed thinking of Eddie Murphy in THE NUTTY PROFESSOR. But laughing didn’t spoil anything, because the movie itself has a lot of good humor, thanks mainly to Ian McShane’s bang-up performance as a sardonic seer and fighting member of Hercules’ inner circle. For me, the fighting scenes were the least interesting part, but clearly they are meant to be the draw, in the same way as the “300” movies. The recreation of an ancient city, the palace, the banquets with the dancing girls, the statue of the goddess who cries poisonous snakes, the (brief, at the beginning) recounting of some of Hercules’ mythical labors, the monsters (Hydra, Cerberus, the Erymanthian boar) — those are the parts I most enjoyed. Dwayne Johnson is very good in an appropriate understated way; he’s the strong, not-quite-silent type. A nod as well to Joseph Fiennes, whose looks here are as evil as his deeds. In fact, credit to all the cast for playing it straight, but not taking themselves too seriously. — Jeff Schultz


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