Film Review: Hercules

hercules

Plot: The legendary Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) becomes a mercenary for hire after a tragic accident takes the life of his family. When Lord Cotys (John Hurt) tasks Hercules with saving his kingdom from the tyrannical Rhesus (Tobias Santelmann), Hercules uncovers a terrible truth about the war he’s fighting, and must become the hero once again.

Maybe there shouldn’t be movies made about Hercules. After enduring the crap fest that was Kellan Lutz in The Legend of Hercules earlier this year, we get director Brett Ratner’s take, which is only marginally better. Hercules has all the typical problems of a Brett Ratner film – it’s sloppy, boring, passionless, but most important of all, it’s completely and utterly forgettable. There’s some decent performances, but it’s almost as if Ratner said while making this, “Well, people hate my films anyway, so I might as well not try.” It’s not even that there’s anything awful about Hercules, it’s just so painfully generic. For a movie called Hercules though, we might as well start with the man himself.

Dwayne-Johnson-in-Hercules-2014-Movie-Poster1

As far as wrestler actors go, I like Dwayne Johnson. I do think he needs a good script though, otherwise you aren’t getting anything special. Johnson doesn’t hurt the movie, but he only helps it a tiny bit. He’s good as Hercules, but he can’t enhance the lackluster material. Aside from a few good rage screams, the performance is nothing to write home about.

Some of the supporting characters are okay, but others are painstakingly annoying. I normally like Ian McShane, but he’s unbearable here. It’s not really the actor’s fault, as much as how the character was written. McShane plays Amphiaraus, who claims to have a connection to the Gods. The Gods tell him when he’s going to die, and it’s played up as a long running joke that is less funny every time it happens. We also get Hercules’ annoying nephew Iolaus, played by Reece Ritchie. His gimmick is hyping up Hercules with stories of greatness. This is one where I will blame the actor. The delivery is obnoxious, and it’s another one of these long running jokes that makes the film campy and silly. Autolycus (Rufus Sewell) and Tydeus (Aksel Hennie) are the other members of Hercules’ band of mercenaries, and they are passable, but forgettable.

The one character I liked from the Hercules gang was Atalanta, played by Ingrid Bolso Berdal. She was the typical bad ass with a bow and arrow, but the actress played it well, and the script was kind enough to give her an actual character. There’s a lot of yawn inducing scenes of Hercules training his warriors, but Atalanta gets a couple nice training sequences. I also enjoyed John Hurt as Cotys, the king who hires Hercules to save his land. He just had a presence about him, and he and Johnson were able to have a couple tense moments that jolted me into the movie.

As I mentioned earlier though, the biggest problem is just how generic the film is. Generic action. Generic dialogue. Generic hero speeches. Generic score. Man, was that score pathetic. Its also got a lot of skittish and awkward flashbacks that are really confusing.

Movies about ancient Greek mythology are very hard to pull off, and it’s frustrating that this material is often given to subpar directors. I’ll give the movie credit for moving at a quick pace, and the last twenty minutes are solid, which saves it from being a total loss. This is nothing that needs to be seen though. It’s full of underwhelming and mediocre sequences, directed by an underwhelming and mediocre director.

Rating: 5 out of 10 (Barely Passable Entertainment)

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Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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