Hercules Blu-ray/DVD has heart

herculesBrett Ratner‘s Hercules takes a different approach to the hero story, showcasing Hercules as a real man rather than the demigod of the mythologies. Dwayne Johnson stars in the title role as the leader of a band of mercenaries. The film, which is based on the graphic novel, Hercules: The Thracian Wars, delivers an action packed adventure with twists and turns sure to leave the audience wanting to see what happens next.

The story picks up with Hercules already having completed his legendary 12 labors. However, according to this version, one key aspect has been left out of the legends – Hercules did not complete them alone.

Hercules was accompanied by his band of mercenaries, comprised of the prophet Amphiarus (Ian McShane), the knife-master Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), the savage warrior Tydeus, the Amazon archer Atalanta and his fabulist nephew Iolaus (Reece Ritchie). Now using the myths to their advantage, Hercules and the mercenaries are swords for hire.

Hercules is approached by the beautiful Ergenia, who asks Hercules and his mercenaries to help defend her father Lord Cotys (John Hurt) and their kingdom, Thrace, from the ruthless warlord Rheseus. After accepting the request in exchange for their weight in gold, they train the civilians to become soldiers and lead them into battle. However, Hercules soon learns Lord Cotys’ end goal for their task wasn’t what they thought it was. While fighting for what they believe, Hercules discovers secrets about his past that he must face.

The film delivers all the elaborate fight scenes that you’d expect and even has some comedic moments, but what it lacks is an in-depth look at the relationships. Hercules and his band of mercenaries are incredibly fascinating individuals and the film’s flaw is that it leaves the audience wanting to know more about them and to see more interaction between them outside of battle. However, the film does have heart to it. In the end, it isn’t about what others believe to be true, but about what you choose to believe about yourself that matters. This becomes the real truth.

The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack is full of special features, including an extended cut version of the film, 15 deleted/extended scenes and commentary by director Brett Ratner and producer Beau Flynn of the theatrical version. The Blu-ray also includes fascinating featurettes such as The Bessi Battle that demonstrates what goes into the making of the intricate battle scenes. It includes a behind-the-scenes look at the costumes, makeup and training of hundreds of extras to act as united soldiers. Other bonus features include Hercules & His Mercenaries, which looks at each character individually, and Weapons, which analyzes Hercules and his mercenaries’ weapons of choice.

One of the most captivating extra features is The Effects of Hercules, which delves into the creation of the intricate world. The majority of the film was done practically, so almost everything you see is really what is there during filming. The featurette goes into the making of the intricate sets and even into the making of an entire village. However, all the deadly creatures were digitally produced but still based around the physical sets themselves. Another interesting note is that for the most part, all arrows in the film, and there are a lot, were digitally produced. This feature shows an astonishing world coming to life.

Hercules is now available on Blu-ray and DVD. Also available this week: Maleficient, Planes: Fire & Rescue, Step Up All In and White Collar: The Complete Fifth Season. Click here for a full list of new releases. ~Janine Wyslobicky

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