Director: Brett Ratner
Star Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Rufus Sewell, Aksel Hennie, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal
IE Rating: 2
Between ‘The Rock’ and the Hercules, Hercules finds a sweet spot. And that’s in exploring how the myth of a demi-god and the ‘son of Zeus’ could have been born, of the 12 labours Hercules accomplished and of the monsters he slay. It goes further, hinting how that myth could have been propagated and used, and how Hercules may not have been averse to own share of costume branding.
Might as well. For, otherwise, Hercules would be little more than a series of wars and body pile-ups strung together — even if Ratner does manage to surprise once in a while.
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His 12 labours accomplished, we catch up with Hercules after he has been driven out of Athens and is living like a “mercenary”, battling pirates and fighting other people’s wars for gold. As Hercules lets us know, legend may require him to have won battles all on his own but for most he has had his faithful band of the seer Amphiarus (McShane), his childhood friend Autolycus (Sewell), a fierce warrior stunned into silence because of the cruelty he has seen, Tydeus (Hennie), Amazonian warrior Atalanta (Berdal), and his nephew who is the official raconteur of his exploits.
The latest war Hercules and his friends are lured into is being fought by Lord Cotys of Thrace against his enemy Rhesus. However, Hercules doesn’t have to win just this battle but also his own demons (including the killing of his wife and three children) if he has to find any peace.
Johnson soldiers on in this role, tailor-made for him, even doing justice to his lion mask. And Ratner impresses in how he mounts some of the war set pieces. However, having been beaten to this space by 300 and others before, this film is more Rock than Hercules — clearly earthling-aimed than godly.