Because there truly are no original ideas left in Hollywood, we now have the second film in 2014 about the legendary mythical character of Hercules. The first movie, which few people remember and even fewer liked, was released in January. This second attempt features Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the titular role, so it should be awesome right? (That was rhetorical)
Directed by Brett Ratner, “Hercules” follows The Rock as a sword-for-hire, having completed his legendary twelve labours. When a king’s daughter approaches Hercules to save her father’s kingdom, his skills will be put to the test. Ian McShane and John Hurt costar.
Walking into a film directed by Ratner and starring Dwayne Johnson in a loincloth and sandals, one shouldn’t have very high expectations. However I still expected more than what this film ends up delivering.
The world of Greek myths and gods is an incredibly immersing one, and has created some amazing stories and movies. And this telling of Hercules takes an interesting twist on the legend, implying that perhaps Hercules really is a mortal man, and his legendary triumphs are just that: legend. But instead of taking these questions somewhere, the film breezes over all of the stories and confirms them as fact or fiction in the first 10 minutes of the film, leaving the rest of the time for you to simply wonder what could come next. No, literally wonder what could be possibly be next; most everything shown in the trailers are part of the opening montage.
Johnson does a solid job as Hercules however he is given surprisingly little to do. He is pretty one-note, just having to play the solider with bulging muscles who yells things during battle. Many of the other performances range from hammy to awkward, especially those of the princess and her son. Both shriek and scream most of their dialogue (in distracting British accents, I might add), and you actually debate rooting for the villains when the two are put in danger. Plus, a lot of the characters have that forced, unfunny Brett Ratner humor, which rivals Michael Bay for the worst in films.
There are two main battle sequences in the film, and both are shot well by Ratner, especially by PG-13 standards, so I must give him props there. There isn’t an overabundance of shaky-cam or slowmo, and there are a few fun camera shots that put you in the action. However in both instances the scenes overstay their welcome, and become redundant and derivative instead of exciting and invigorating.
The special effects are nothing special, the dialogue is at times abysmal and the story flips between rushed and underdeveloped. I went in wanting an over-the-top sword-and-sandal blockbuster and “Hercules” doesn’t delivery even that. The Rock tries his best but it was just too big a Herculean task (pats self on back) to save this drawn out, and awkwardly paced, adventure that we’ve seen many, many times before.
Critics Rating: 4/10