Weekend Movies: “Hercules” earns better reviews than Woody Allen or Rob Reiner

lucyimageSo for starters, no WAY Brett Ratner’s generic, dull and listless “Hercules” (alas, the same can be said for “The Artist Formerly Known as The Rock”) is better than the other popcorn picture opening this last weekend of July — “Lucy.” Luc Besson’s film is demented, loopy and dead-sexy fun.

“Hercules” is just “300-Lite.” Strip all the supernaturalism out of Herc, make him a Merc. Sure. But that should be a fun concept, not a “Hercules as Drill Sergeant Training Thrace for War” swords and sandals and slashing picture. A few laughs, all provided by/given to Rufus Sewell and Ian McShane as the not-a-real-demi-god’s sidekicks, a couple of big battles, a little blood. No romance, a teensy bit of skin.

And Dwayne Johnson sleepwalking/lumbering through the whole affair as if it’s just a paycheck. The early reviews were from overseas lightweights, but the two Hollywood trade papers endorsed this dog, too.

My prediction? Since it was withheld from American critics, the raft of reviews that will come in today and tonight will beat this bum down out of the 60% range, where it sits on Rottentomatoes, now.

Besson’s “Lucy” has Scarlett Johansson in fine form as a college student kidnapped in Taipei who has drugs surgically stuffed into her abdomen for smuggling. The drug makes one hyper-aware, and it starts to leak and Lucy becomes the smartest/toughest/maddest thing on two shapely legs.

It’s a nutty film, with “Lucy,” the first humanoid primate playing a role, animal hunting and killing footage intercut with the action. But it’s fun. Mixed to negative reviews for this one.

“A Most Wanted Man” is the best reviewed wide release opening this weekend, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final tour de force turn, this time in a John le Carre adaption set in Hamburg where spies chase would-be Islamo-terrorists. Yeah, Hoffman’s got “Hunger Games” sequel footage in the can, but let’s be real — this was his last time to shine. Very good film.

Woody Allen finally gets the beat-down he deserves for repeating himself and making comedies with diminishing returns on laughter. “Magic in the Moonlight” is a DOA period piece about a medium being exposed by a cynical magician. Decent cast, as always. Lovely French Riviera settings. Dead movie. Bad enough to make you reconsider the arch and stiff “Blue Jasmine,” or the tired jokes and cliches of “Midnight in Paris,” his biggest hit and best of his recent offerings.

Rob Reiner is over. Unless older audiences find his critically dismissed “And So It Goes,” write him off. He hasn’t had a major studio release since “Flipped,” and that went into limited release only. And he hasn’t had a hit in this millennium. Done. The movie’s not terrible, just old and tired.

The Anna Kendrick mumblecore dramedy “Happy Christmas” hits a few theaters and is quite good. Joe Swanberg (“Drinking Buddies”) writes interesting characters and the actors he casts make good use of them.Good reviews for that one

 

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