Based on revisionist Radical comic, Hercules: The Thracian Wars by Steve Moore, Greek mythological hero and everyone’s favourite demigod returns to the silver screen courtesy of the preposterously colossal physique of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, X-Men: Last Stand).
Despite a new take on the familiar story and avoiding the mistakes of its competitor, The Legend of Hercules, the film, which blends humour and action, still manages to commit a number of unpardonable sins – most notably not giving its lead enough to stretch his acting chops. Audiences will find that the all brawn and no brains Hercules is adequate entertainment, but a missed opportunity.
No prior Greek education is required here. A voice-over earlier on echoes everything you need to know about our hero, “His father was Zeus, the Zeus.” After a brief recap of his legend, we are introduced to the real hero. Hercules, who is a paid mercenary (a sword-for-hire) and a bit of a sham, travels the world accompanied by a crew of fighters (each with a unique set of skills) and a young storyteller who spreads the unbelievable legend of a man born of a god. When they encounter a princess (Rebecca Ferguson), who pleads for their aid, Hercules has to live up to his legend and face an army of demonic soldiers. But everything isn’t as simple as it seems. Our hero is haunted by visions of a three headed wolf creature and the loss of his family.
The formulaic plot holds very little in the way of surprises – everything plays out as expected – with large battle sequences and the occasional one-liners thrown in to ease the tension between fights. The cast, especially the charismatic and broody Johnson, do their best to hold the film, with Ingrid Bolso Berdal stealing a lot of screen-time as the butt-kicking archer Atalanta. The uninteresting dialogue and the laughable flashbacks (mostly of Hercules’ sexy wife’s backside) will remove audiences from the film while scenes where our protagonist lifts and chucks a horse will call for “oohs” and “aahs” from the audience. The beef-packed posters and trailers are completely misleading of course. This is a far less serious adaptation than they suggest.
Although the film proves to be violent, unlike 300, there is a lack of blood and everything is kept to it’s strict PG-13 rating. Even when The Rock does clobber a few off the enemies, Ratner cuts away from the violence before impact.
The 3D holds a few surprises. While daggers and weapons often transcend from the screen, the 3D provides depth throughout. It’s slightly above average in this department.
As far as popcorn action flicks go, Hercules isn’t a bad film. It’s just not a great film either. It is emotionally uninvolving.