Hot Flicks with Jess Layt

(Front, left to right) Ingrid Berdal is Atalanta, Dwayne Johnson is Hercules, Reece Ritchie is Iolaus and Rufus Sewell is Autolycus in HERCULES from Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. Dwayne Johnson stars as Hercules in Brett Ratner's very modern take on the hero of classical Greek legend.

(Front, left to right) Ingrid Berdal is Atalanta, Dwayne Johnson is Hercules, Reece Ritchie is Iolaus and Rufus Sewell is Autolycus in HERCULES from Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. Dwayne Johnson stars as Hercules in Brett Ratner's very modern take on the hero of classical Greek legend.

EVERY sword and sandals film since the year 2000 has undoubtedly been compared in at least some respects to the Oscar-winning, Rusty-starring classic Gladiator.

Earlier this year, Pompeii felt like Gladiator's little brother that never quite made it to the top grade, hard as it tried to mix all the winning ingredients (enslaved hero becoming gladiator, haunting vocals scoring poignant scenes, empirical thumbs down during combat).

Despite a trailer featuring the Gladiator signature shot of hands running through tall grass (which didn't actually make it into the final cut), Hercules largely, and refreshingly, manages to avoid borrowing from the seminal film.

Hercules and his buddies - who are somewhere between the Asgardian crew and Robin Hood's merry men - travel the ancient Greek lands (ignoring the Heracles/Hercules conundrum) and tackle the problems of those with deep pockets.

Hercules' nephew, a spirited orator, spreads stories of his near-inhuman labours and his legend grows until he is believed to be the son of the king of the gods, Zeus (or Zyoosh, the characters' pronunciations would have you believe).

Rufus Sewell (A Knight's Tale) plays Autolycus, Hercules' wisecracking right-hand man, responsible for all the funniest parts of the film.

Ian McShane (Cuban Fury) is the believer in the mystical, said to know the when and how of his own death.

Other members of the ragtag group get both less screen time and less backstory, but in a lighthearted film of this nature, neither necessary.

John Hurt (Alien) and Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) also feature, as well as Australia's very own Steven Peacocke (Home and Away's Brax) in a small role.

Training montages and decent battles (though they're a far cry from the benchmark battle of Helm's Deep) ensue, as Dwayne Johnson's gargantuan Hercules fights to keep the empire of Thrace free.

There are parts of the film that anomalously touch on heavy, tragic themes - almost as though the screenwriter had decided to Nolan-ise the story, but copped out when it became apparent that Hercules was perhaps not the best subject matter for a gritty reboot - but overall it is a fun, well-costumed escapade.

Making a significantly larger splash than 2014's other Hercules offering, with Kellan Lutz in the title role, Hercules is a light film that will entertain for the length of the run time.

Hercules, now screening at Hoyts Wetherill Park, is rated M.

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