Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) is rumoured to be the son of Zeus, and a mortal woman. Famed for his great feats in battle, Hercules faces a new challenge when the King of Thrace (John Hurt) seeks his services as a mercenary for hire, to defeat a dangerous and spreading threat.
Fans of Greek mythology and stories, you may as well take a seat, this new imagining of Hercules is just that; a new imagining. Ryan Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos’ screenplay sees the man we know as a demigod and hero changed into a thug for hire, with a load of stories to his name.
Dwayne Johnson seems to have been cast for his sheer size, and while there is nothing truly wrong with his performance – he is fine – there is nothing truly right with it either. Ian McShane and Rufus Sewell bring some unnecessary comedy to the proceedings and John Hurt gives the same shouty John Hurt performance we have seen from him before. He’s better than this; he knows it and so do we.
The screenplay spends much of its time undermining what we know from Greek legend and the films of Hercules that have gone before. Any trace of magic, godly interference or mystery are stripped away, leaving Hercules simply a man who is good with a club, and the audience wondering why we are watching this particular story, instead of the far more interesting tale of Hercules’ 12 Labours.
Hercules is a film based around set pieces, and while these are intense and action packed, they are also supremely silly and – for the most part – unexplained. Why did the villain set a trap if he was not going to be there to see the fun? Why did the King of Thrace go into battle anyway, if the army was going to have to spend most of their time protecting him? What is everyone’s end game anyway? The Rock gets some nice shouty motivational speeches, but these actually turn into comedy, since they try to sincerely rip of speeches that have since been parodied.
As well as this, the film – perhaps predictably – is in 3D and, also perhaps predictably, is far too dark. Removing your 3D glasses will give an idea of how the film was supposed to look, but with the glasses on, Hercules becomes a sea of shadows with a shouty muscly guy in the middle.
Director Brett Ratner seems to have tweeted his directions to his actors – run away #scared – leaving the film feeling generic and pointless. Also, why is the hero called Hercules? The film is set in ancient Greece, and the Gtreek name for this demigod is Heracles. Sigh.
Hercules is a dark, 3D, loud mess. The son of Zeus is reduced to a guy with a lion cape, and the rest of the film is uninteresting and ultimately, pointless.