FlixChatter [Guest] Review: HERCULES (2014) & Spotlight on Rufus Sewell as Autolycus

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I love going to a movie when I’m really not going there to see the movie. This can only mean one thing – Rufus Sewell is once more on the big screen. He played one of Hercules’ band of mercenaries, Autolyclus, and wow, did he ever buff up for this role. He also got to shed his typecast “bad guy” role that he’s keen to be rid of. You gotta love men’s Grecian/Roman wardrobe, Ruf wears them well. Too bad I missed out on bidding for his costume on ebay. The winning bid only $1,090? I would have easily coughed up more than that  ;-D.

Rufus himself on his character, Autolycus

I promised Flixy this review would be short, but when I found this excerpt from the film’s production notes on The Rooftop where Rufus talks more about his role, that promise just went out the window:

Autolycus might lack for Hercules’ astonishing strength, but he has more than made up for it with the sharp blade of his wit, ultimately becoming Hercules’ master strategist. Rufus Sewell, the English actor recently seen in “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” takes on the role of Hercules’ wisecracking friend.

“Autolycus and Hercules go way back, and they’ve got each other’s backs,” Sewell explains. “They have a kind of communication that goes beyond words. They’ve always worked together, and that’s a source of great pride to Autolycus, that he knows Hercules better than anyone else.” At the same time,

Autolycus has a cheeky side Sewell found a lot of fun. “He’s a bit of a wheeler dealer,” Sewell confesses. “He’s got a sarcastic tongue and a real sense of humor with Hercules. He not only is the brains of the operation but he’s also the one who is always thinking about the gold coinage. He does have a good heart, but he often keeps it hidden.”

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In battle, Autolycus utilizes a series of blades to his advantage – which for Sewell, meant he knew he had to start training the minute he accepted the role. “You know there’s going to be a lot of training when you have to stand next to Dwayne Johnson, and be even remotely believable as the same species,” jokes Sewell. “I did fight training, weight training and weapons training. Since we’re mercenaries, the fighting in the film is very much to the point. There isn’t a lot of fancy footwork. At the same time, what I love about the film is that it has so much humor and humanity.”
“Every set was like something out of Cecil B. DeMille, with that kind of scope,” recalls Rufus. “It makes a big difference to actors because you’re reacting to a real environment.”

More on Autolycus

Oh, and what about his acting, you say? His character is not a cliche, but one with strong emotions: sincerity to rage, matter-of-fact to tongue-in-cheek. He likes playing well-rounded characters, so I imagine this one fit the bill for him perfectly. Rufus, along with Ian McShane, provide comic relief. He does love his gold, which causes him to almost abandon the cause, but in the end he stays loyal. Favorite line from Autolyclus: “Don’t just stand there… kill someone!”

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On the Movie

And just in case you think I’m writing this only to talk up Rufus, you’re almost correct, but here’s what I actually thought about it. Since I didn’t go in with ANY expectations, I was pleasantly surprised. The plot is perfectly uncomplicated but never boring, the battle scenes weren’t “shaky” and included battle strategies that were quite unique to me, and the wide-shot aerial cinematography was sweeping and scenic and CGI didn’t seem to be overused. Hercules’ superhuman strength is illustrated by a horse and rider being tossed into the air, not by any mythical creatures.

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I don’t really go out of my way to see Dwayne Johnson flicks, but he really was perfect for this role. And boy, do I ever like his look when he’s got beard and hair. The rest of the cast fill their roles well. To hear more about the them, check out this video feature with director Brett Ratner and Dwayne:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x22dlvr_hercules-featurette-uk-talent-2014-rufus-sewell-john-hurt-ian-mcshane-action-movie-hd_shortfilms

Bottom Line

I don’t go to many summer PG13 action adventure films so Hercules may be lacking for some more jaded and sophisticated movie goers (Yes, Ted S., I know who you are… you’re at the very top of this list!), but Hercules gets a solid 3.5 reels from me. And even though Flixchatter ratings only go up to five, Rufus, of course, as usual, gets a perfect 10.

3.5 reels

PostByBeckyK


Now, what do you think of Hercules?

Guest Post: Summer films from my teen years



So with the summer movie season well under way, I’ve decided to go back to the time when I was still in my teens and looking forward to every summer season because not only I had the entire summer off from school, but also the big summer films Hollywood has to offer. I used to love watching Entertainment Tonight because they would always show the upcoming trailers of summer flicks; the internet was still new so you can’t watch movie trailers online yet.

I’m going to list big the films from the summer seasons of 1990 to 1996; I was still in my teens in those years and went to see a lot of movies in theater. And I’ll name my favorite films from that Summer, too. If you’re the same age as me and love films, then you might remember what went on during those hot Summer seasons.

1. Summer of 1990:

The notable big films were Days of Thunder, Dick Tracy, Die Hard 2, Robocop 2, Ghost, Fire Birds, Back to the Future Part 3, Total Recall, Another 48 Hrs., Gremlins 2, Presumed Innocent and Air America. Around this time I was too young to get into R rated films so I didn’t see Die Hard 2, Robocop 2, Total Recall and Air America until they came out on VHS. A lot of people probably don’t remember but the summer of 1990 was the summer of Disney vs. Paramount. Disney has Dick Tracy and Paramount has Days of Thunder and the marketing for both films were huge! I remember I went to McDonald’s that summer and all I could see was Dick Tracy related items and Burger King was pimping Days of Thunder.

Jerry Bruckheimer didn’t have nice things to say about Disney and their big film Dick Tracy (This was a few years before Bruckheimer signed with Disney), so the battle was on. The results? Well the two films didn’t earn that much at all compare to the other films, in fact no one saw it coming that Ghost ended up being the biggest hit of the season. My favorites were Die Hard 2, Total Recall, Another 48 Hrs. and Back to the Future Part 3. Robocop 2 and Days of Thunder were quite disappointing to me.

2. Summer of 1991:

The big guns were Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Rocketeer, Backdraft, Point Break, Mobsters, Doc Hollywood and Child’s Play 3. I don’t remember why but the summer of 1991 offerings were pretty weak, maybe because a lot of studios were afraid of T-2 and they were right because it’s the biggest hit of the summer and the year. It’s also the first film to actually have cost over $100 mil to make and it set the standards for special effects in films. I actually saw the film on the big 70mm screen and I was blown away by it. The picture and sound were pretty spectacular.

My favorite from the list was Point Break, I fell asleep watching Backdraft, while Robin Hood with Kevin Costner was okay. The only other film I saw in theater that summer was The Rocketeer, I don’t remember much about it though, and I might have to give it a rent soon.

3. Summer of 1992:

The big films were Lethal Weapon 3, Alien 3, Batman Returns, Far and Away, Sister Act, Patriot Games, Iron Eagle 3, A League of Their Own, Cool World, Prelude to a Kiss, Universal Soldier, Unforgiven, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Death Becomes Her, Mo’ Money, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery and Single White Female. I called this the summer of sequels and Lethal Weapon 3, Batman Returns and Patriot Games were big winners.

Alien 3 on the other hand was the biggest bombs of the year, it was plague with bad behind the scenes rumors and it was way over budget. Another big bomb of that summer was Far and Away, Ron Howard’s attempt to imitate David Lean’s film was met with bad reviews and audiences didn’t care to see Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman on the big screen. Howard even shot the film with Panavision Super 70, the highest quality in film, very similar to Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia and Ryan’s Daughter. My favorites were Lethal Weapon 3, Batman Returns, Patriot Games and Unforgiven (it’s probably my favorite western film ever).

4. Summer of 1993:

Hollywood offered us Hot Shots! Part Deux, Super Mario Bros., Jurassic Park, Cliffhanger, Last Action Hero, The Fugitive, Hard Target, Free Willy, Rising Sun, Another Stakeout, Coneheads, and In the Line of Fire. This summer was billed as Arnold vs. Sly since each of them had a summer flick, Stallone has been doing comedies for a few years and Arnold didn’t have a summer movie in 1992. So when it was announced that Cliffhanger would open in May and Last Action Hero in June, many predicted that both films would earn hundreds of millions of dollars.

Boy were they wrong, Cliffhanger ended up making around $80mil while Last Action Hero became one of the biggest box office misfires of the decade, ouch! The summer actually belonged to the dinosaurs and Harrison Ford. Jurassic Park became the biggest hit of the summer/year and The Fugitive was right behind it. My favorites were Jurassic Park, The Fugitive, Cliffhanger, Hard Target, In the Line of Fire and Rising Sun.

5. Summer of 1994:

The summer kicked off with Maverick then Beverly Hills Cop 3, The Flintstones, The Cowboy Way, Speed, City Slickers 2, Wolf, Wyatt Earp, The Lion King, Forrest Gump, True Lies, The Client, The Shadow, The Mask, Natural Born Killers and Clear and Present Danger. So this was the first summer ever that has two films earned over $300 mil at the box office, Forrest Gump and The Lion King. Also, it was a reunion for Arnold and James Cameron, their film True Lies was the priciest of the year costing at around $120mil to make. Even though this was a huge summer for films, somehow I don’t remember much about it. I think I only saw 4 films in theater that summer; True Lies, Speed, Clear & Present Danger and Forrest Gump and I enjoyed all of them. The rest were pretty forgettable with the exception of The Lion King which I didn’t see until it came out on video and I really enjoyed it.

6. Summer of 1995:

The theaters were filled with big films such as Crimson Tide, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Braveheart, Casper, Congo, The Bridges of Madison County, Batman Forever, Pocahontas, Apollo 13, Judge Dredd, First Knight, Species, Under Siege 2, Clueless, Free Willy 2, The Net, Waterworld, Babe, Dangerous Minds and Mortal Kombat. 1995 was a pretty weak year in films and the summer season offerings weren’t that impressive either.

The summer kicked off with Crimson Tide (Jerry Bruckheimer’s first big budget film with Disney after he and his business partner Don Simpson left Paramount). I went to see it with a friend and we loved it and thought this could be a great summer for films. Boy was I wrong, the next movie I went to see was Die Hard 3 and even though I enjoyed it, I was still quite disappointed with the movie. Then I saw Congo and wow that was bad, Batman Forever and Judged Dredd were also quite bad. In July I saw Under Siege 2 and Waterworld, I was surprised how much I enjoyed both films but by no means they were great or even good films.

At the time, Waterworld was the most expensive movie ever, cost around $175mil to produce. The last summer movie I saw in theater was Mortal Kombat and I really enjoyed that one. I didn’t get to see Braveheart in theater until it won all those Oscars and they decided to re-release it back in theaters in the spring of 1996. My favorites were Braveheart, Crimson Tide and Mortal Kombat.

7. Summer of 1996:

Hollywood gave us Twister, Mission: Impossible, Dragonheart, The Rock, The Cable Guy, Eraser, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Striptease, The Nutty Professor, Independence Day (ID4), Phenomenon, Courage Under Fire, The Frighteners, A Time to Kill, Chain Reaction, Escape from L.A., Tin Cup and Island of Dr. Moreau. I remember this summer well because I graduated from high school that May and also it was the summer of films filled with CGI. Also, this was the year where most movie theaters in America updated to digital sound. I think I’ve seen most of the films on the list in theater that summer.

My favorites were Mission: Impossible, The Rock, Eraser, ID4 and Twister. Now I’m not saying these were great or even good films, but they were quite entertaining, especially if you saw them at a theater that has digital sound. I thought I was gonna go deaf after I saw The Rock at the revamped theater close to where I used to live.

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Well those are my memories of summer films during my teen years, what about you? Feel free to share your memories of summer flicks; I would love to hear from someone who grew up in the 70s since I believe that decade had so many great films.