Since leaving wrestling’s square circle and entering the big screen, Rock Johnson has instead wrestled with his persona. Would he go down the Schwarzenegger / Stallone route and become a caricature of himself, or could he expect audiences to ignore his immense guns and formerly mischievous eyebrow and take him as a serious actor?
Hercules was born half human, half god (in a film that wants to be 100% 300). No wonder then that the adult version looks like Dwayne Johnson aka ‘The Rock’, an impossibly chiselled good looking individual, with charisma, energy and muscle to burn.
In this depressingly straightline version Hercules has already completed his more celebrated (and probably more cinematic) adventures. He is now little more than a well credentialed bounty hunter living off his fame, travelling the lands with a crew as faceless and pointless as Thor’s, seeking high paying, low exertion jobs.
But Hercules is as tired of this role as we are of seeing it onscreen. He decides that he needs one last paycheck, after which he will retire to be alone with his muscles. Thankfully only a few steps down the road later introduces him to the posse of Lord Cotys (John Hurt). A leader of a tortured realm threatened by what is allegedly a group of Centaurs lead by the evil King Eurystheus.
The King pleads with Hercules to fight on his behalf. Instead this cool Herc decides to leave the entire kingdom well fed, by teaching the subjects, farmers and scrubs mostly, the art of war. Together they will defeat Eurystheus and leave his army in pieces… (That’s a better joke once you hear how they pronounce Eurystheus!)
This is all an exercise in going through the no-emotions. There is no joy, wit or humour to be found in the dialogue, no creativity in the script, and in a PG film no real flair or exhilaration in the action sequences. It is all so very linear and unnecessary. The only amusing concept is through the character played by Ian McShane, who has the ability to foresee his own fate, and can therefore wade into battle full chested knowing that whatever happens, today is not his day.
I can’t help but feel that if Brett Ratner were able to concoct more of these scenarios, and somehow convinced Johnson to go all 300, that these ninety minutes could have been much better.
Hercules was half human, half god and totally legendary. This film – and The Rock / Dwayne Johnson, tries to have it both ways too. It is half straight, half silly, and ultimately not nearly enough of either. It is definitely not legendary, and most certainly will not be discussed in hushed tones around campfires for generations…
Dwayne Johnson seems a great guy, he looks awesome on the poster and is always an entertaining interview, but he needs to choose a side. Soon.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. If all legends were as incredible as this one, there would be no legends.