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Hercules Review

Far more entertaining than it has any right to be, this is a big, messy blockbuster retelling of the Greek myth that thankfully has a sharp sense of humour and some surprising twists up its sleeve. The cast is also packed with veteran performers who know how to make the most of some eyebrow-raising innuendo, generating intrigue while keeping the audience laughing with them rather than at them.

The premise takes a revisionist approach, grounding the legend of the demigod Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) in real stories that have been exaggerated by his nephew Iolaus (Reece Ritchie), who travels with him as a kind of toga-era marketing expert. Their team of mercenaries includes wryly fatalistic seer Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), quick-witted blade-thrower Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), bow-wielding amazon Atalanta (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) and loyal mute warrior Tydeus (Aksel Hennie). When they're offered a fortune by Lord Cotys (John Hurt) to quell a rebellion, they find themselves in the middle of a massive battle that doesn't go the way they expected. And as events take unforeseen turns, Hercules and his gang have to dig deep to turn the tide in their favour.

Johnson is a natural in the role, so massively pumped up that he looks like he could be popped with a pin. His hulking physique and just enough back-story give the character's reputation some weight, both literally and figuratively, so even if he's not half-god his achievements are still pretty impressive. (There are also plenty of hints that he may turn out to be a god after all.) And the surrounding characters add to this with cleverly written roles that are expertly played by British scene-stealers Hurt, McShane, Sewell, Mullan and Fiennes. McShane is so good that he essentially walks off with the whole movie. But relative newcomers Ritchie, Hennie and Berdal more than hold their own.

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Hercules - Extended Trailer

Hercules - Trailer

'Top Of The Lake': First Reviews & Elisabeth Moss On Shooting Nude Scenes Post-Peggy [Trailer]

Tags: Elisabeth Moss - Jane Campion - Peter Mullan - Holly Hunter

Top of the Lake has debuted on British TV this weekend, establishing Mad Men actress Elisabeth Moss as a truly fine television actress in her role after secretary-turned-copywriter Peggy Olson. The six-part series comes from Jane Campion who directed 1993 The Piano and who gives the new BBC2 bleak drama about child abuse a film-like feel. Moss plays the role of detective Robin Griffin who, although usually based in Sydney, Australia, returns home to the village of Laketop of New Zealand's south island to visit her mother who is suffering with cancer. Whilst home in the idyllic, mountain-framed town, Griffin is called upon to help investigate the case of Tui Mitcham (Jacqueline Joe); a 12 year-old girl who is found to be five months pregnant with her angry, Scottish, criminal kingpin father Matt Mitcham (Peter Mullan) suspected.

Elisabeth Moss
Elisabeth Moss To Take On A New Detective Character In Dark TV Series Top of the Lake.

The first episode sets the scene of the eerie, lawless town perfectly, with Moss fitting in her unglamorous role as Kiwi detective, with the Los Angeles-born actress mastering the tricky New Zealand accent for her new character. The Guardian's Sarah Dempster evaluates the engaging new series as one that harbours many clichés yet is a "beautifully shot mystery, wrapped in an unpleasant thriller that's also a morality tale" The Telegraph's Serena Davies also gives the BBC2 drama a thumbs up for being "flawlessly beautiful" in its setting and praises lead actors Peter Mullan, Holly Hunter and Elisabeth Moss for cementing the awkward, backwood, small-town feel that makes it clear to the viewer why Griffin decided to seek friendlier climes in the Australian cities.

Continue reading: 'Top Of The Lake': First Reviews & Elisabeth Moss On Shooting Nude Scenes Post-Peggy [Trailer]

The Liability Review

Blackly comical writing and direction add a playful slant to what could have been a typically over-serious British crime thriller. And there's also a coming-of-age element to the plot that holds our interest. It's all relatively simplistic, and never really goes anywhere, but the offbeat approach and vividly well-played characters make it worth a look.

Rising-star Brit Jack O'Connell (Skins) plays 19-year-old Adam, a goof-off who thinks it's hilarious when he wrecks his stepdad Peter's (Mullan) pricey car. But Peter is a mobster, and his patience is wearing thin. Without telling Adam's mother (Wareing), he gives Adam a job to help pay for the damage. He'll be a driver for Roy (Roth), who turns out to be a hitman on a nasty mission. This opens Adam up to a world he has never known, and as the stakes begin to rise he has to grow up very quickly. Then things get even more intense when he and Roy encounter a backpacker (Riley) who sends them on a crazed cat-and-mouse chase.

Mixing comedy with suspense isn't easy to pull off, but writer Wrathall and director Viveiros manage it by keeping the humour pitch black and playing everything dead straight. O'Connell portrays Adam as a hapless buffoon who has no idea how to behave in any given situation. But he's deeply likeable, so we root for him in the face of Roy's stony silence. Roth can play this kind of thug in his sleep, but stirs in some wry exasperation and even a low-lying emotional resonance as things develop. And the chemistry between them never feels remotely safe.

Continue reading: The Liability Review

Picture - Ashley Thomas aka Bashy, Michelle... , Tuesday 24th July 2012

Bashy, Michelle Ryan and Peter Mullan - Ashley Thomas aka Bashy, Michelle Ryan, Peter Mullan Tuesday 24th July 2012 UK premiere of The Man Inside - Arrivals

Picture - Peter Mullan London, England, Sunday 8th January 2012

Peter Mullan and Odeon Leicester Square Sunday 8th January 2012 War Horse - UK film premiere held at the Odeon Leicester Square - Arrivals. London, England

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