Brawn before brains
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.