Hercules review

Brett Ratner
Dwayne Johnson
Ian McShane
John Hurt
Rufus Sewell
Ingrid Bolso Berdal
Rated: PG-13

Brett Ratner already screwed up a good premise to an X-Men movie, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise he can’t pull off something like “Hercules.”

In this new telling of Greek mythology, the titular hero, played by Dwayne Johnson, is a mercenary, fighting bandits and pirates for gold. It’s alluded to he may be the son of Zeus, however, this movie tries to ground itself in a more realistic setting. Therefor, we get a Hercules that is a bit more human.

The plot thickens when Hercules and his team of mercenaries are hired by a woman whose kingdom is under attack. Upon their arrival, the king of the land, played by John Hurt, asks Hercules to lead his armies into battle and Hercules agrees.

One of the first things audiences will probably notice about this update on the Greek demigod is that, well, he’s not really much of a demigod at all. There are some scenes where he shows feats of strength but for the most part, this film distances itself from the myth that it is almost unrecognizable.

This would be fine if the characters and performances were memorable and the story was well drawn out. That’s not the case, though. The movie lacks a really good villain and relies way too heavily on cliches and a really dull twist ending that could have been seen from a mile away.

As for Hercules’ team, they were already established and felt like caricatures, more so than characters. From the best friend side-kick, portrayed by Rufus Sewell, to the wise member of the group, played by Ian McShane. They were just generic and unmemorable, it certainly is no fellowship of the ring.

Maybe this idea could have worked if it had been in a more super hero-origins style format about how Hercules met them and built his legend, it could have worked. And this team leads to another problem with the film.

Having them go along with Hercules in a movie that is supposed to make the legend more grounded, in reality, almost makes it too crowded for the Greek legend to become an iconic character.

Despite Dwayne Johnson being a charismatic actor with screen presence, his role seems limited. He has to compete with a lot of characters for action screen time and it takes away from his performance.

To be fair, the writers of this movie tried to at least give Herc some backstory, but in reality, it turned out to be a fairly generic one. It wasn’t that different than Maximus’ backstory in “Gladiator.”

Veteran actors McShane and Hurt don’t give stellar performances. Neither of them have the kind of lines, or have fun with their roles the way Liam Neeson did in “Clash of the Titans,” for example. The only thing McShane really had going was a poor reoccurring joke.

Even the action in the film was lame. There are a total of three battles in this entire picture and none of them were particularly memorable. A few neat things were done here and there, but they completely lacked anything to set them apart from a mediocre affair.

This movie wants to be a fun Greek-styled action movie in the vein of “300” or “Immortals,” but doesn’t have the stylized action or “R” rating to make it exciting enough to reach those levels.

“Hercules” offers so little in its 98 minute runtime that is not worth watching. There were a few cool moments and Johnson is likable on screen, but everything else from his team of mercenaries, to the villain and backstory, feel generic.

That’s because they are. Everything in this flick has been done before and done better. 1 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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