Australian Council on Children and the Media

Hercules

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Not suitable under 13, parental guidance recommended 13-15 (Violence; Disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Hercules
  • a review of Hercules completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 29 July 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children aged 13 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children aged 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Hercules
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence, blood and infrequent coarse language
Length 98 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film opens with a montage of scenes and images depicting the trials and tribulations of Hercules from birth to adulthood. We learn that Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) is a demigod and the son of Zeus, King of the Gods, and that as a type of retribution, Hercules was given 12 arduous tasks to complete. He is now suffering ongoing despair over the death of his wife and children and has joined with several others to become a mercenary.

Following the film’s opening montage we find Hercules and his warrior companions in a village inn. Hercules’ companions include a mystical seer named Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), Hercules’ lifelong friend Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), Atalanta (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) an Amazon warrior, an axe wielding mute named Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), and Hercules’ nephew Iolaus (Reece Ritchie). Their relaxation is cut short when a beautiful and mysterious woman walks into the inn and pleads for Hercules’ help. The woman is Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson).  Her father Lord Cotys (John Hurt) is being threatened by an army of demons and 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 band of followers.

After defeating the demon armies harassing Lord Cotys’ villagers, Hercules discovers that all is not as it appears. He decides to stay around and find out what is really going on, a decision that leads to more trouble for him.               

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Greek myths; demigods; mercenaries; deception; betrayal, and jealousy

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film  contains action violence, multiple deaths, and graphic images of blood and gore. Examples include:

  • One scene depicts two large green snakes slithering from the eyes of a statue and across the ground towards Hercules as a toddler. We hear the sound of bone breaking and then see the toddler holding a dead snake in each hand.
  • Hercules is wading through a swamp when he is attacked by a Hydra; a giant sized monster with multiple serpent heads. 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 with severed heads falling out; within the open mouth of a severed Hydra head is the severed head of a man.  
  • Throughout the film Hercules uses a giant club to bludgeon men and creatures to death. At times we hear the sound of bones breaking. Hercules also wields a large sword which he uses to kill numerous 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 with 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. After fighting battles we see the faces and bodies of Hercules and his band of warriors splattered with blood.    
  • We hear a man tell Hercules that he watched three wolves kill Hercules’ wife and children, telling Hercules that the wolves gnawed on his children’s bones and defiled his daughters.  
  • Hercules is attacked by three large wolves which bite him on the arms, neck and legs which are covered with blood. Hercules pick up one wolf and kills it by throwing it against a wall. He rips apart the jaws of another wolf and kills the third wolf by stabbing it in the neck; we see blood covering the fur of the wolves.  
  • 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 use 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 and other soldiers are crushed beneath giant chunks of stone when Hercules causes a giant statue to crash down on them.      

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are many scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There are a number of very scary creatures, including a ferocious boar with large tusks, a gigantic lion and a three-headed wolf
  • Several scenes contain brief but threatening images of hundreds of Centaurs (mythical creatures that have the body of a horse and the torso of a man) riding into battle.
  • Several characters in the film have scar-covered faces that may 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.

 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • In several scenes throughout the film we see repeated images of blood spaying over walls and floors, we hear the sounds of children screaming and see the dead bodies of children and a woman lying on the floor, covered in blood. 
  • One scene depicts the aftermath of a battle - the burnt 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 on the face of a severed 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 we see a man hold a sword to the same boy’s throat, threatening to kill him.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned violence and disturbing scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of  the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

The film contains occasional low-level sexual innuendoes. Examples include:

  • After a man is saved from having his genitals impaled on a wooden stake, a second man comments “Girls would finally be safe from your attentions”.
  • On more than one occasion we hear men make comment in relation to buxom women and exciting bondage.  
  • We hear a woman make the comment 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.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • A couple of scenes depict Hercules and a woman kissing on the lips.
  • Women in the film wear revealing clothing.
  • In one scene a woman walking away from Hercules drops her gown briefly revealing her naked back and buttocks.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • In several festive scenes men and women drink from goblets.
  • In one scene Hercules says that he was given drugged wine and we see an image of Hercules dropping a goblet and falling unconscious.
  • A man is seen inhaling smoke the purpose in order to make prophecies. A second man says “If you are going to use those herbs at least share”.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • fucking; bastard; load of crap; shit; child killer; what the hell

In a nutshell

Hercules is a fantasy action adventure targeting older adolescents and adult fans of such films. The film has some entertaining comic relief and gives a new twist on an otherwise predictable story by depicting Hercules as a mortal adventurer and opportunist rather than an immortal demigod. The film contains frequent violence with some disturbing images of death and blood, so is not suitable for children under 13 with parental guidance recommended for 13 to 15 year olds. 

The main messages from this movie are:

  • An individual cannot 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 parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Selflessness: Although depicted as mercenaries, Hercules and his band of followers repeatedly put themselves in peril to save others. One of Hercules’ followers dies as a result of using himself as a human shield to save the life of a young boy.
  • Friendship and loyalty as displayed by Hercules and his band of followers.

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