(Scored out of ten; below 5 = not worth seeing, 6 = ok, 7 = good, 8 = great, 9 = fantastic, 10 = next to perfect)
Brett Ratner’s Hercules is by no means a perfect film (less than stellar dialogue, forced and amateurish performances and mediocre CGI) yet despite its numerous flaws manages to be thoroughly entertaining throughout. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has never been bigger, the action set pieces are gory and satisfying and the cheese factor is at an all time high, if your looking for a good old fashioned popcorn flick Hercules is the film for you!
Based off of the Steve Moore graphic novel, Hercules sees the son of Zeus as a mercenary seeking out gold and solitude as opposed to his fathers graces. After having lost his family in an unfortunate accident, Hercules finds himself wandering from city to city in search of a way to escape his past. Along the way he picked up a number of trusty companions who helped spread his legend across the globe and keep him alive on his live imperiling adventures. There are no mythical creatures and magic powers to see here, only really strong dudes. The trailers led us to believe we would get epic battles with giant creatures but alas, that was not meant to be. However, what we do get is pretty entertaining in its own right, even though it would have been awesome as heck to see “The Rock’ get it on with a real Cerberus…
Dwayne Johnson has never been praised as the greatest thespian in Hollywood but as of late he has managed to come into his own as a fully capable actor. With roles in the Fast and Furious franchise, G.I. Joe and Pain and Gain “The Rock” has made believers of us all. However, his turn as Hercules is more reminiscent of his time as a wrestler than his current streak of hits. Johnson delivers a monotone and emotionless performance as the son of Zeus when it comes to the dialogue but truly shines when it comes to the action, thankfully there is a ton of the latter and very little of the former. Just seeing him in the middle of the battlefield wielding a giant spiked club while wearing a lions skin for a cape is a sight in itself. He mows down enemies like a true demi-god should and provides instant entertainment value every time he shows up ready for a fight. Anytime he is tasked with showing any depth or emotion, the film tends to fall flat. It becomes painfully obvious Johnson is uncomfortable with dramatic acting and the film suffers for it, never enough for it to be unbearable mind you, but enough to take you out of the experience momentarily and detract slightly from the epic battle you just witnessed. He nails all of the humor and his charm is contagious when in regular conversation, it is only the emotional beats that fail to leave a good impression.
The supporting cast fares a bit better than our main protagonist, offering believable performances and elevating the material to a level that audiences can tolerate for 2 hours. The dialogue is a little bit clunky and the story is barely present, it mostly acts as a reason to move from one set piece to the next. No character has any real arc but they are all fun to watch when cutting down hundreds of nameless enemies. Rufus Sewell and Ian McShane outclass the rest of the cast by so much its kind of jarring at first but eventually the silly nature of the film takes over and you care less about performances and more about what Hercules is gonna punch next. McShane has loads of fun as the seer Amphiaraus, on multiple occasions he spreads his arms in an embrace of what he believes will be his ‘moment’ only to have his hopes dashed time and again. These moments stand out as some of the funniest while emphasizing the fact that the film isn’t meant to be taken too seriously, if your not here for fun you’re watching the wrong movie.
As mentioned before, your here to see the fights and the fights alone. Ratner may have gotten a bad rap on X-men 3 but no one can deny that it was a pretty movie. With Hercules he has an entirely new playground in which to build his beautiful sets and set pieces. The costuming is fantastic and perfect for the tone he was striving to hit, a dash of color here and there to accentuate the graphic novel roots and some breathtaking scenery in order to establish the overall world. While the practical stuff is outstanding the CG leaves something to be desired. There isn’t very much of it but the moments it is employed you can really tell. The final battle was epic and satisfying but when Hercules topples over a statue and sets the city ablaze you are immediately pulled out of the action. The fire looks like it came out of 2006, which is mind-blowing considering the rest of the effects didn’t look that bad, why they were put to use in the most crucial part of the film is beyond me. But, as I said before, it only lasts a short while and hardly ruins the enjoyable experience.
Hercules could have (and may be to certain people) been a terrible mess of a film; a director with a questionable track record, a less than star-studded cast and middling trailers. In spite of all this against it Hercules is consistently entertaining and not too bad to look at for the most part. Dwayne Johnson brings his signature charm (in spurts) and the action is solid throughout. If pure popcorn fun is your goal, look no further!
Overall I give this film 7/10