Brawn be­fore brains

SFX - - Rated / Dvd & blu- ray -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

2014 | 12 | 98 min­utes | Blu- ray 3D/ Blu- ray/ DVD Di­rec­tor: Brett Ratner Cast: Dwayne John­son, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Ru­fus Sewell, In­grid Bolsø Berdal, Askel Hen­nie, Reece Ritchie

At a piv­otal

mo­ment in this re­vi­sion­ist romp, Ian McShane’s screw- loose seer asks Dwayne John­son’s renowned strong­man, “Are you only the legend? Or are you the truth be­hind the legend?” It’s the fi­nal nail in the cof­fin fol­low­ing 90 min­utes of mer­ci­less myth- bust­ing. Her­cules is a film that tries so hard to de­con­struct the demi- god’s legend that it loses ev­ery sem­blance of sto­ry­telling magic along the way.

Adapted from Steve Moore’s five- is­sue comic se­ries Her­cules: The Thra­cian Wars ( a bet­ter take on the con­cept), Brett Ratner’s film casts charis­matic walk­ing beef- sack Dwayne John­son as a dour son of Zeus, who’s not ev­ery­thing he’s cracked up to be in the sto­ries. With the support of his merry band of mis­fits, in­clud­ing Ru­fus Sewell’s knife- thrower, In­grid Bolsø Berdal’s Amazonian archer and his sil­ver- tongued nephew ( Reece Richie), tales of Her­cules’ fa­bled labours are blown wildly out of pro­por­tion to im­prove his rep­u­ta­tion as a mer­ce­nary for hire, lead­ing him to the em­ploy of John Hurt’s put- upon King Of Thrace.

On pa­per, Dwayne John­son is per­fect cast­ing. In re­al­ity, his character is such a joy­less slab that John­son’s nat­u­ral show­man­ship is com­pletely wasted. He is, quite lit­er­ally, hired mus­cle. The sup­port­ing cast fare bet­ter – McShane has heaps of fun as the war­rior with a death wish, while Askel Hen­nie’s mad mute Ty­deus shines. In the swords and san­dals tra­di­tion, the evil ranks are lit­tered with Bri­tish character ac­tors, in­clud­ing Peter Mullan’s bone- whip­wield­ing body­guard and Joseph Fi­ennes’s du­plic­i­tous King Eurys­theus. Nei­ther are mem­o­rable.

John­son’s nat­u­ral show­man­ship is com­pletely wasted

Brett Ratner does a de­cent job with the large scale and mostly prac­ti­cal set­pieces, but the tone is all over the place ( an oblig­a­tory tragic back­story sits un­easily next to the goofy hu­mour on dis­play else­where) and it’s such a charm­less af­fair you’ll come out wish­ing at least some part of the legend was real – even the bit about Her­cules shov­el­ling shit in the Augean Sta­bles.

Ex­tras: On the DVD: com­men­tary by Ratner and a pro­ducer, a five- minute in­tro and two in­stantly for­get­table ten- minute fea­turettes on Her­cules’s team and the ef­fects. The Blu- ray ( rated) adds 15 deleted scenes, and two fur­ther fea­turettes on weapons and a ma­jor ac­tion se­quence. Jor­dan Far­ley Film­ing was de­layed only a cou­ple of weeks after Dwayne John­son de­tached two pelvic mus­cles, re­sult­ing in triple her­nia surgery.

Her­cules had heard the Greek legend about where to get growth hor­mone.

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