I have no choice but to hop aboard the popular bandwagon of attempting to warn people when it comes to the new movie Hercules; the one starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as directed by the spectacularly terrible Brett Ratner. This is one of the times when you truly must not, under any conceivable circumstance, trust the trailers. It’s not an exaggeration when I say that any action sequence that the trailer might promise is just from a brief montage at the beginning of the film. Don’t expect to see Hercules perform any of the deeds from the Greek myth, because as Hercules begins, it’s already happened. Allegedly.
The rest of the movie is the least fun kind of bad. It’s not funny like The Room and it’s not fascinatingly awful like Birdemic. It’s just mediocre. There’s nothing new in terms of story, no particularly grand performances and really, just no reason to go see this instead of Scarlett Johansson‘s Lucy (which, judging from the box office records, no one did).
So The Rock plays Hercules. As stated, we don’t get to see him perform any of his mythological deeds, and everything that made the original story of Hercules (or Herakles as he’s technically called in the Greek version of the myth) so interesting is just circulating rumors amongst the characters of this particular adaptation. He’s not an insanely powerful demigod; he’s just a warrior with big muscles. How excitingly original.
The plot is supposedly set after the events of Herakles’ twelve labors, which we all know were given to him by the god Zeus, his father, only for him to be driven insane by Hera, the mother, and kill his family as a result of the madness. In this movie, he leads a band of mercenaries and is basically a muscle for hire when the king of Thrace, Cytos (John Hurt), calls for his aid. The king wants Hercules to train the armies of Thrace and help overthrow the ruthless warlord Rheseus (Tobias Santelmann). Rheseus and his armies are believed to be Centaurs, which would have been relatively fun to see, but this is soon revealed to have been a misconception. Whew.
Another big reveal is the true motives of King Cytos but I frankly doubt that anyone cares. I know I didn’t and let us be honest, this film isn’t about a well-told story or the twists and turns therehin. It’s about lengthy action scenes and burly men making grunting noises as they battle one another other, and those who come only to see that will be satisfied I’m sure.
I’ve never been a fan of films like this. Period pieces with a swords-and-sandals style similar to that of Wrath Of The Titans where everything looks the same and the scenery is bland and boring, which are adjectives one can apply to the overall acting in these kind of movies also. However, whereas Wrath Of The Titans at least had a few cool monsters every now and then, this one is largely just one big bore, excluding that first scene where they put all the mildly cool imagery.
It is difficult to put a finger on why I’m so bored by swords-and-sandals films. Perhaps it just feels like they’ve all been trying too hard to be like Gladiator, which I didn’t even view as quite as big a masterpiece as everyone else did when I first saw it. A rewatch is imminent.
Most of the actors in Hercules seem as though they’d rather be somewhere else. Dwayne Johnson doesn’t try especially hard, Rufus Sewell I kept forgetting was even in the movie and John Hurt phones it in like he was forced at gun point to participate because Ratner believed that the presence of such a legendary actor would somehow give the film class. The movie also features Ian McShane and, making me wish I was watching American Horror Story instead, Joseph Fiennes.
For the sake of fairness, I suppose, I shall admit that there’s a handful of decent action and cinematography here, but it’s not great enough to be especially memorable and it’s definitely not enough of a reason for you to see this, neither for me to give Hercules anything other than a 2/5. Try making a film that’s interesting and exhilarating for more than the first couple minutes next time, won’t you Mr. Ratner?