Hercules review: Dwayne The Rock Johnson is surrounded by mediocrity
Brett Ratner brought Jackie Chan to Hollywood. When Rush Hour released in theaters, for some of us Ratner assumed the role of Saviour of Action Cinema. Unfortunately, since then, Chris Tucker’s manic laugh has been ringing in our ears because Ratner has piled on one dud on another and created a Colosseum of awful, objectionably terrible duds, ranging from the Rush Hour sequels to After the Sunset and Tower Heist. Ratner also managed to churn out a bad remake of Manhunter, ruin the X Men franchise (before it was fixed in DOFP) and produced a series of films that are even worse than the ones he directed.
Given this rich heritage, what would a combination of Ratner, ancient Greek mythology and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson deliver? Here’s the bad news: Hercules is neither a good film nor is it bad enough to be unintentionally entertaining. This is the Himmatwala of Hollywood.
Hercules tries to be everything – a wannabe 300, the bombastic style of Troy as well as some details from Clash of the Titans (which itself was terrible). Anyone who has read Asterix’s adventures or is familiar with Greek mythology would know about Hercules’s 12 labours. These are 12 awesome adventures in which Hercules slays otherworldly creatures that are just begging to be brought to life thanks to Hollywood’s overwhelming love for CGI.
Sadly Ratner’s Hercules tries to humanise its titular character and attempts to question the very existence of gods. This would be a great idea had the film been a deep, insightful character drama made by a filmmaker who understands nuance. Instead we get Ratner whose idea of humanisation is to create a human who can dislodge a 60-foot statue made of solid marble. It just doesn’t work on any level.
Hercules in Ratner’s film is a mercenary who, with the help of an entourage, is going around making a living by cashing in on the legends of his 12 tasks, which are dealt with in five minutes using some CGI and lots of voiceover. Now Hercules and gang are under the employ of the suspicious king of Thrace who says a rival warlord is ravaging Thrace.
The central problem is that this is a story has been told a zillion times in Hollywood. A hero joins a fight only to realise that his team is the duplicitous one – we’ve seen this in Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves and even in Avatar. It’s been done so many times that it’s gone from being a tried and tested formula to flat and boring.
More confusingly, Hercules is neither a film for children (there’s lots of violence and the attempts at humanisation are ham-handed) nor is it for adults who will find the gore as dull as the story. As for the in-between teenagers, they’re wiser than Hollywood thinks they are, despite what the box office earnings for the Transformers movies suggest.
The hackneyed plot vehicle might still have been bearable if the film had good lines or characters, but it doesn’t. They’re the usual cheesy Hollywood one-liners and stock characters (including the scantily-clad action girl who is an Amazon, obviously). The action is clichéd at best and snoozy at its worst, and making matters worse is the blatant misogyny that is typical of Ratner’s oeuvre. Let’s not even get into the cringe-inducing acting from nearly everyone and the dreadful attempts at humour.
The opening segments featuring the Hydra and the Nemean lion are actually quite nice and it raises hopes that the film will at least be a good-looking clichéd adventure, but it doesn’t even manage that. Johnson has an impressive physique no doubt and he does put his everything into Hercules, but he’s surrounded by oodles of mediocrity and has nothing to do but scream and flex his biceps. If only everyone else involved with the movie – beginning with the writer and director –had worked as hard as him.
Updated Date: Aug 01, 2014 13:42:06 IST