Mythological Mercenaries – A review of Hercules
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Run Time: 98 minutes
Director: Brett Ratner
Stars: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell
Summary: Dwayne Johnson claims he was born to play Hercules. At his size, he’s probably right. Too bad they couldn’t give him a better script to work with. Then again, he isn’t Shakespeare material either, is he? .
I remember reading of the exploits of the magnificent Hercules in school. His twelve legendary labors were the stuff Saturday matinee cinema was made of.
And had the Rock lived fifty years ago, we probably would have seen a movie of those twelve labors a while back.
Instead we’re treated to a condemnation of the fictionalized account and are introduced to Hercules and his band of merry mischief makers who routinely boast of the exaggeration of those aforementioned labors.
So even the gods had to embellish, I guess.
So instead of intrepid hero, we’re instead introduced to Hercules and crew, intrepid bounty hunters, mercenaries and ne’er-do-wells.
I mean, really? What is this? Mythology for the MTV generation?
Even Percy Jackson and his fellow demigods stayed at least mostly true to the mythology written about their namesakes. Here, they didn’t even TRY to keep the story intact.
Hercules and crew visit a disheveled kingdom that has been attacked by a staunch enemy. The King (John Hurt) begs Hercules to intervene. And intervene they do.
But as one might expect, not all is as it appears and not even the king in this venture is entirely on the up and up.
So, what this story devolves into is a revenge effort by Hercules and company to right an apparent injustice. We’ve seen this all before. And most of the time, the stories are a LOT better.
A key clue in what we should expect is the director himself. Brett Ratner has directed a number of by-the-numbers actioners, including the Rush Hour movies and X-Men: The Last Stand.
Even the casting is a giveaway. Among Hercules’ band of merry men are Ian McShane and Rufus Sewell, both extraordinarily competent scene chewers.
The effects make the movie palatable in a silly sort of way. After all, who couldn’t get a chuckle out of a giant God’s head tumbling down a flight of temple steps to crush a bed guy or two along the way.
And Hercules lion head headdress is almost as amusing as the fortune cookie dialogue. It’s a reminder that the character really is great even when badly maligned as he is here.
If you’re going to this movie expecting awards material, you’re fooling yourself. It’s a fun ride, but like a restaurant dinner made up of bread and vegetables, at some point, you’re going to crave some meat and it just doesn’t exist on this plate.
Hercules is a fun diversion if you’re looking for a mindless adventure with little or no thought required for entertainment purposes. Of course if you’d rather wrap your head around a great adventure rather than a mediocre one, this movie won’t be for you.
I give Hercules 2-1/2 out of 5 stars.