Directed by Brett Ratner
The Greco-Roman demi-god Hercules has screen credits in nearly 100 films and TV shows since 1915. “Hercules,” the newest vision of the beefcake warrior from director Brett Ratner (the “Rush Hour” trilogy), isn’t even the first one released this year. His story didn’t need to be told again. But, like it or not, it was.
“Before he was a legend, he was a man.” That’s the trashy tagline they wanted to go with. Hercules (played by a bulked-up Dwayne Johnson) and his band of mercenaries (including the delightful Ian McShane) are called upon by a king (John Hurt) to save a city from a group of rebels who had begun a civil war. He soon learns that he’ll have to train a group of farmers to become warriors, but his makeshift army is also going to be highly outnumbered. Can Hercules live up to the legend surrounding him, plus the high expectations of the king?
This predictably tacky plotline is brought to you by Evan Spiliotopoulos, writer of “Pooh’s Heffalump Movie” and other infamous Disney sequels (including…and I hope this is just a coincidence and not the reason this guy was brought in to help…”Hercules 2″); and Ryan Condal, who had never written a feature-length movie before this. But “Hercules” treads the line between atrocity and intentional schlock. An argument could be made that, considering their use of modern English vulgarity and consistent light-hearted humor, “Hercules” knew it was subpar entertainment.
Dwayne Johnson made “Hercules” his passion project, and that becomes apparent as he flexes his muscle (his literal muscles…not necessarily his acting muscle) and gives the appearance as though he loves what he is doing. It’s contagious. “Hercules” shows off Johnson’s natural abilities with an abundance of exciting fight scenes using fists, swords, clubs, bows, arrows, and an assortment of other diverse fighting mechanisms. It’s visually appealing, tastefully done, and makes hating this movie extremely difficult. As lousy as it is, it’s a good terrible, not a bad terrible. It’s exactly what you’d expect after you’ve looked at the people involved. You can’t help but get caught up in the fun of it all, even if it’s just another predictable, recycled story about a millennium-old has-been. To clarify, I’m referring to Hercules here, not The Rock.