Adapted from the graphic novel by the late Steve Moore, the opening montage features the titular strongman (Johnson, aka The Rock) slaying lions, hydras and a gargantuan boar as part of his arduous tasks.
Next: Herc and his band of merry mercenaries take up arms with the king of Thrace (John Hurt, impressive as ever). They help train his ragtag army to vanquish a rival warlord.
The narrative brims with a wealth of visual flourishes, courtesy legendary cinematographer Dante Spinotti. Even the capabilities of 3D are optimally utilized.
Staged across sprawling landscapes, the battles are choreographed with panache. A dose of humour is occasionally injected to relieve the tension generated by the gritty goings-on.
Ian McShane is delightfully deadpan as the spear-wielding soothsayer who wrongly foretells his own death on several occasions. The rest of Hercules’ followers include his teenage nephew, a mute orphan-turned-deadly warrior and an Amazonian archer (Ingrid Bolso Berdal). A pleasant surprise among the week’s releases, Hercules is highly recommended.