Hercules opens with a montage of scenes and images showing Hercules’s trials and tribulations from birth to adulthood. Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) is a demigod and the son of Zeus, King of the Gods. Hercules was given 12 arduous tasks to complete. Following the deaths of his wife and children, he despairs and joins a band of mercenaries.
The movie’s story begins with Hercules and his warrior companions in a village inn. Hercules’s companions include a mystical seer named Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), Hercules’s lifelong friend Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), Amazon warrior Atalanta (Ingrid Bolso Berdal), an axe-wielding mute named Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), and Hercules’s nephew Iolaus (Reece Ritchie). A beautiful and mysterious woman walks into the inn and pleads for Hercules’s help. The woman is Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson). Her father, Lord Cotys (John Hurt), is being threatened by an army of demons. Ergenia offers Hercules his weight in gold to help her father defeat the demon army. Hercules accepts Ergenia’s offer and sets off with his mercenaries.
After defeating the demon armies harassing Lord Cotys’s villagers, Hercules discovers that all is not as it seems. He decides to stay and find out what is really going on, a decision that leads to more trouble for him.
Hercules contains action violence, multiple deaths and graphic images of blood and gore. For example:
- One scene shows two large green snakes slithering from the eyes of a statue and across the ground towards Hercules as a toddler. There is the sound of bone breaking and then we see the toddler Hercules holding a dead snake in each hand.
- Hercules is wading through a swamp when he is attacked by a Hydra – a giant monster with multiple serpent heads, each with a mouth full of long, sharp fangs. We see quick images of Hercules severing several of the Hydra’s heads with his sword. In a later scene Hercules dumps a bag on the ground and severed heads fall out. In the open mouth of one Hydra head is a man’s head.
- Throughout the movie Hercules uses a giant club to bludgeon men and creatures to death. At times we hear the sound of bones breaking. Hercules also uses a large sword to kill many men, slashing them across the chest and back. In one scene he uses his sword to impale a man lying on the ground.
- Battle scenes involve the use of arrows, axes, spears and knives. There are some images of throats being cut, and knives and axes embedded in bodies. People are also impaled on spears. Horse-drawn chariots are used in battle to run down victims.
- The chariots are fitted with sword-like blades that protrude from the sides of the chariots, cutting down hundreds of men.
- Blood spatters across the faces and bodies of Hercules and his warriors.
- A man tells Hercules that he watched three wolves kill Hercules’s wife and children. He says that the wolves gnawed on the children’s bones and defiled the girls.
- Three large wolves attack Hercules. They bite him on the arms, neck and legs, covering him with blood. Hercules picks up one wolf and kills it by throwing it against a wall. He rips apart the jaws of another wolf and kills the third by stabbing it in the neck. Blood covers the wolves’ fur.
- A woman is dragged along the ground and tied to a block. An executioner stands over the women with his axe raised as she begs for her life. As the axe falls, Hercules intervenes, killing the executioner by crushing him with stone blocks.
- To save the life of a young boy, a man uses his body as a human shield, throwing himself in front of the boy so that he is struck by dozens of arrows.
- Hundreds of soldiers are engulfed in flames when they try to storm a temple. Other soldiers are crushed beneath giant chunks of stone when Hercules causes a giant statue to crash down on them.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Hercules has many scenes that could scare or disturb children aged under five years. For example:
- There are several very scary creatures, including a ferocious boar with large tusks, a gigantic lion and a three-headed wolf.
- Several scenes have brief but threatening images of hundreds of centaurs riding into battle.
- Several characters in the movie have scar-covered faces that might scare younger children.
- In one scene a young boy approaches a wagon after hearing snarls and growls. A scar-faced man leaps out, scaring the terrified boy who runs away. Hercules tells the boy that the man witnessed terrible atrocities as a young boy and was like an animal when Hercules found him.
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, Hercules has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- Several scenes show blood spaying over walls and floors. The scenes also include the sounds of children screaming and show the dead bodies of children and a woman lying on the floor, covered in blood.
- One scene shows the aftermath of a battle. It shows the burned remains of a village with the dead and bloody bodies of children littering the ground and severed blood-soaked heads impaled on wooden stakes. A man dips his finger into blood pooling on the face of one head and sucks the blood from his finger.
- A man drags a young boy away from his mother, pulling the boy by his hair. The boy screams out in fear. In another scene a man holds a sword to the same boy’s throat, threatening to kill him.
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the violence and disturbing scenes mentioned above.
Younger children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
Hercules has occasional low-level sexual innuendoes. For example:
- After a man is saved from having his genitals impaled on a wooden stake, a second man says that girls would finally be safe from his attentions.
- Men often comment on buxom women.
- A woman says that there is nothing more convincing than ‘a pair of breasts’.
- A woman says to a man, ‘If only your manhood was as long as your tongue’. The man responds by implying that he is capable of satisfying women either way.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Hercules shows some use of substances. For example:
- In several festive scenes men and women drink from goblets.
- In one scene Hercules says that he was given drugged wine. There is an image of Hercules dropping a goblet and falling unconscious.
- A man inhales smoke so he can make prophecies. A second man says, ‘If you’re going to use those herbs at least share’.
Nudity and sexual activity
Hercules has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- A couple of scenes show Hercules and a woman kissing on the lips.
- Women wear revealing clothing.
- In one scene a woman walking away from Hercules drops her gown briefly and shows her naked back and buttocks.
None of concern
Hercules has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Hercules is a fantasy action adventure targeting older adolescents and adult fans of these kinds of movies. It has some entertaining comic relief and gives a new twist on an otherwise predictable story by presenting Hercules as a mortal adventurer and opportunist rather than an immortal demigod.
Hercules contains frequent violence and some disturbing images of killing and blood. It’s not suitable for children under 13 years, and we recommend parental guidance for children aged 13-15 years.
These are the main messages from this movie:
- People can’t escape their fate in life.
- You don’t have to be a demigod to be a hero – you just have to believe in yourself and have others believe in you.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the following:
- Selflessness: although Hercules and his companions are mercenaries, they repeatedly put themselves in danger to save others. One of Hercules’s followers dies after acting as a human shield to save the life of a young boy.
- Friendship and loyalty: Hercules and his companions show these values.