Film Review: Hercules

Hercules

Brett Ratner’s version of Hercules is an amusing action romp that distinguishes itself from previous versions of the myth.

Hercules has built up a fierce reputation by completing the legendary twelve labours. Hercules and his team of warriors are sought out by the King of Thrace, who requires help to defend his land and his people…

The most striking aspect of Hercules is how the film takes a well-known mythological character and places him in a plausible environment. Unlike previous version of the myth, Brett Ratner’s film eschews the fantastical elements of the Hercules story, positing him instead as a character that could have actually existed.

Based on Steve Moore’s graphic novel, Hercules offers a revisionist account of the myth. The supernatural aspects of his quests are explained in a plausible fashion, whilst even the protagonist himself makes light of some of the more exaggerated aspects of his feats. In this way, Hercules offers something different to previous cinematic adaptations.

The film follows fairly conventional action adventure tropes in terms of narrative and characters. The vein of humour that runs through the film is most welcome; this is a version of Hercules that can laugh at itself, to a certain extent. The comedy is a good fit for this non-supernatural account. Nevertheless, when the film makes attempts at gravitas, it can feel a little hollow.

Action in the film is good. Many of the scenes rely on the physicality of the actors, and in this respect Hercules is well cast. The set pieces are well executed in terms of scale, although some of the effects look less authentic. Dwayne Johnson makes a likeable hero, whilst John Hurt brings some gravity as Lord Cotys.

Hercules is perhaps not a definitive version of the myth. Although the film may not be as memorable as the legend itself, it is nevertheless an entertaining watch.

Immortals Trailer

Immortals is the new film from director Tarsem Singh. The film appears to be a highly stylised affair, with the striking use of colour and CGI-laden imagery. It could be just another 300, although Immortals boasts a cast which includes Henry Cavill, Frieda Pinto, Stephen Dorff and John Hurt. We will see when the film is released on 11th November 2011.

Film Review: Melancholia

Melancholia is a heart-wrenchingly acute depiction of depression. Those who are not fully absorbed may find the 136-minute running time a bit much, but most will be hooked by Lars von Trier’s film.

On her wedding day, Justine should be the happiest she has ever been. Instead, she cannot seem to shake her negative feelings. At the same time, her sister Claire is anxious about a planet which is set to narrowly pass by Earth in the coming days…

Lars von Trier’s Melancholia is more satisfying film than his last effort Antichrist. There is a completeness to Melancholia that was missing from the 2009 film. Melancholia is more conventional than its predecessor, and this is definitely a good thing.

Notwithstanding, von Trier hallmarks are apparent throughout the film. This is particularly true of the opening sequence. Although the imagery in this segment is beautiful, there is also a healthy dose of pretension. The slow-motion scene seems a specific trait of the director.

The beauty of Melancholia is its ability to compel viewers to identify with Justine, as well as Michael and Claire. Viewers should be able to empathise with Justine, as well as being able to sympathise with the frustration she causes to Claire and Michael. This bodes well for the second half of the film, which lays more emphasis on older sister Claire.

Melancholia‘s portrayal of depression appears incredibly authentic. What makes it so convincing is its multi-faceted nature. The nature of Justine’s plight is made clear as the first half of the film unfolds. It is difficult not to be moved by her condition. Her pained behaviour seems genuine, and illustrative of what a debilitating illness depression is. Similarly, the array of emotions expressed by Claire are equally convincing. The sympathy, frustration and sorrow Claire feels towards her younger sister exemplify why Melancholia is such a great film.

The film is beautifully shot. Lars von Trier and cinematographer Manuel Alberto Claro have done a fantastic job in making the visuals so alluring. There is a good mix of intimate shots and large-scale imagery, and great attention to detail. The effects employed by Melancholia are also good.

Kirsten Dunst offers perhaps her best performance to date as Justine. She is entirely convincing throughout the film. Charlotte Gainsbourg is also great as Claire, while solid support is offered from Alexander Skarsgård, Keifer Sutherland and John Hurt.

Melancholia can be heavy-going, with its sombre subject matter. However, it is an incredibly worthwhile watch.