Hercules: Reborn Review

Posted: July 9, 2014 in Action, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

HerculesThe new film Hercules: Reborn is so shameless that it’s inspiring. If there are still those in Hollywood who will put aside any shred of conscience or ounce of respect for intellectual property rights in the pursuit of a quick buck, then we can be reassured that some things in cinema have not changed, the digital revolution be damned.

Hercules: Reborn is notable only for the sheer chutzpah of its existence. Following in the tradition of movie milestones like The Day The Earth Stopped and Transmorphers, Hercules: Reborn is an attempt to draft behind a better known, better financed project that will debut in movie theaters at approximately the same time. This phenomena should not be confused with those occasions when major studios go head-to-head with remarkably similar (i.e., exactly the same) premises like Deep Impact and Armageddon.  This is the California short con, making the product just similar enough to swindle some suckers out of a few bucks.

In approximately two weeks, Hercules (estimated budget:110 million) will hit the cineplex with Dwayne Johnson starring as the Greek demigod. Until then, we have another professional wrestler taking on the mythical role. The title character in Hercules: Reborn (estimated budget: decidedly less than 110 million) is played by John Hennigan who appears in the WWE as John Morrison. So it’s The Rock versus Johnny Nitro, and even Vince McMahon would have a hard time selling this as a fair fight.

Still, it provides a wonderful opportunity to show what money buys you in the movie business today, beyond extras. (Hercules: Reborn is the most underpopulated film since the first 30 minutes of Wall-E.) The trailer for Hercules shows Johnson fighting the Namean Lion and the Lernaean Hydra. Hercules: Reborn features two chickens and a donkey. Big money means big special effects which means a really big Erymanthian Boar in Hercules. In Hercules: Reborn, the only notable effect is the spurting blood during the sword fights that is straight out of the Black Knight scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Yet, it seems that money cannot buy you love or good dialogue. Guess which lines come from which movie:

a) “Who are you? Are you a murderer?”

b) “You’re not a drunk, and you’re not a loser.”

c) “No matter how far you go, man cannot escape his fate.”

d) “In time, I will skill you in ways to love me.”

e) “We believe in you.”

f) “I believed in you.”

Answer key: Hercules – a, c, and e. Hercules: Reborn – b, d, and f.

If you are beginning to get the idea that it is difficult, if not impossible, to write a standalone review of Hercules: Reborn, you are experiencing a glimpse into the symbiotic relationship between this film and the other. Hennigan is not terrible here; he certainly has the physical presence and athleticism for the battle scenes. Marcus Shirock as the evil henchman, Cyrus, has a nice moment or two, especially when he and Hennigan trade a few WWE moves during their fight. On the other hand, Christina Ulfsparre as Princess Theodora is preposterous casting right out of the Bad Movie Playbook: ancient royalty with streaked blonde hair.

But the real find here is James Duval who plays Horace, the loyal friend to the banished soldier whose girlfriend is taken by the evil general who kills the bad-wigged king and takes the bottle-blonde princess captive which leads to them enlisting the besotted behemoth. Duvall’s performance is okay, but what is great about him is the title of his next project:

Hellevator Man

One star for Hercules: Reborn and three stars for the unfinished Hellevator Man  just for the title alone.

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