This week’s reviews benchpress
Michael Rice beefs up.
James Bartlett goes on a rampage.
Stacy Grouden finds out.
DIR/Brett Ratner • WRI: Ryan Condal, Evan Spiliotopoulos • PRO: Sarah Aubrey, Beau Flynn, Barry Levine, Brett Ratner • DOP: Dante Spinotti • ED: Mark Helfrich, Julia Wong • DES: Jean-Vincent Puzos • MUS: Fernando Velázquez • CAST: Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Joseph Fiennes
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but there’s one thing for sure, this Dwayne Johnson vehicle is as cynical as it gets.
I had previously been very optimistic about the casting of Johnson in the title role, with the main reason being that he looks the part, but also because he’s proven himself an extremely charismatic lead in the past. Unfortunately, this is the worst I’ve ever seen Johnson, playing the role of Hercules without an ounce of wit or vigour, and it’s the first time he’s looked like a juiced up wrestler trying his hand at movies. His lacklustre performance is made all the more confusing by the fact that this was reportedly a passion project, leading him to turn down the lead role in the established Transformers franchise.
The storyline shamelessly cobbles together plot points from other movies, with Ridley Scott’s Gladiator proving to be a wonderful source of material. The story follows Hercules after he has completed his Legendary twelve labours. He has since become a sword for hire, travelling Greece with a crew of highly trained warriors, each with their own special skill. The crew is hired by King Cotys to help defeat a tyrannical war Lord, and we find out through flashbacks why Hercules has been reduced to living his life as a sell sword.
I would have found it a lot easier to accept this movie for what it is, if there had been any self-awareness present. Unfortunately, there isn’t, and we in the audience are expected to take what we see at face value, which I can only take as an insult to our intelligence. I must admit that I did laugh numerous times during the film, aided and abetted by a fellow sitting to my left at the press screening. The laughs. however. came at what were clearly intended to be some of the most poignant parts of the film, comically contrived moments. Hercules is about one degree away from being a decent lampoon of the sword and sandals genre, and maybe if it had been marketed as such I could have got on board.
Here’s hoping that poor box office results will put an end to what Johnson and co. are hoping will be a long running franchise.
12A (See IFCO for details)
Hercules is released on 25th July 2014