When you go to review a Brett Ratner film in which the big star is Dwayne Johnson you have to hold it up to a different standard than you would a David Fincher film starring Brad Pitt. You know you are in for a big film filled with action and not tons of character development or haute classe acting. Brett Ratner was behind the camera for films like Tower Heist, the Rush Hour series and Red Dragon. Dwayne Johnson, a former WWE wrestler, is better known for his physique than his acting. He has walked the road forged by Arnold Schwarzenegger and starred primarily in action films like the Fast & Furious series, G.I. Joe, The Scorpion King, and Doom. In other words, don’t go into this expecting a period piece that the British are famous for making. It is a story of the man and myth that was Hercules and meant to be enjoyed viewed that way. But even with those low standards it is a film that is hard to get into or enjoy.
Almost every human being on the face of this Earth knows something about the story of Hercules. His story is that engaging and beloved. It is with the expectations that come with that Brett Ratner undertook making a film about a portion of his life. We don’t go through the Twelve Labours that he was famous for undertaking; this is the time after where his legend had already been established.
Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) was revered throughout the Greco-Roman world. He was believed to be the son of the God Zeus and the mortal Alcmene making him half-god, half-mortal. As he grew to be a man it was recognized that he was much stronger than your average man and as a result he was sent out to complete Twelve Labours by Zeus’s jealous wife, Hera. After completing eleven of them he gathered some men and a woman, Amphiaraus (Ian McShane – Kung Fu Panda, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), Autolycus (Rufus Sewell – A Knight’s Tale, The Illusionist), Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), Iolaus (Reece Ritchie – The Lovely Bones, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), and Atalanta (Ingrid Bolso Berdal – Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Chernobyl Diaries), he trusted to be behind him and began to hire himself out as a mercenary.
Lord Cotyus (John Hurt – Alien, V For Vendetta) hires Hercules and his gang to help him ward off Rhesus (Tobias Santelmann), who is attempting to take over control of all of the Greco-Roman territory. Hercules agrees as the pay is high and the task is righteous. After training Cotyus’s army and turning a group of farmers into warriors, Hercules discovers he has been lied to and used. Instead of just taking the money and being on his merry way the man decides to stop the Cotyus at the risk of losing his own life.
Despite the fact that you have epic battle and other smaller scale action scenes oddly Hercules as a film lacks a certain intensity. On top of that the story or the telling of the figure’s tale does not seem to have been made a priority. It is a film made up of a series of scenes rather than one that tells a story. The actors seem cognoscente and go through the motion. Just reciting lines rather than breathing life into their characters.
Ratner’s film looks great, but it is a rather fragile piece of art. One in which if you look too closely you will see its multitude of flaws and cracks. Comparing it to art is rather ambitious as there is not a moment of originality to be found. It is the definition of formulaic, even when it comes to action films. At certain points it just seems like Ratner is not interested at all in telling a story rather he is just thinking of putting scenes in that will peak the interest of international audiences. This is all about box office and not about making a good film.
-Previews of Noah, Interstellar, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers: Age of Extinction
-Brett Ratner and Dwayne Johnson: An Introduction
-Hercules and His Mercenaries
-The Bessi Battle
-The Effects of Hercules