Based on the classic Greek mythology, director Brett Ratner delves into the tales of Hercules, with Dwayne Johnson taking on the eponymous lead role. Having a reputation to match his brute strength: the so-called son of Zeus endured the legendary twelve labours, though finds his name tarnished when believed to be behind the murders of his wife and children. As a result, the demigod finds himself on the road, travelling with a misfit band of mercenaries who use their unique, seemingly indestructible skill-set as warriors in exchange for gold. Which is where Lord Cotys (John Hurt) comes in, as he pleads with Hercules to find it within himself to save their kingdom and help train up their army to defeat a barbaric warlord.
Hercules is undeniably good-natured, and sets out to do little but entertain. It isn’t unique or breathtaking in any way, but it’s an easy to indulge in blockbuster, which, sometimes, is all we can ask for. Johnson epitomises that fact, as he brings a charm and charisma to the role, and an amusing self-deprecating trait, which makes for a protagonist that’s easy to root for. It’s in the more profound moments where the cracks begin to appear though, as in spite of his distinct infallibility, he struggles with the more intimate and emotional aspects of the narrative. Though let’s face it: The Rock isn’t here for sentiment, he’s here to kick ass – and that he does.
This being said, we don’t quite see enough of the legendary fables, as though recounting the countless tales of defeating these supernatural beasts, they are consigned solely to flashbacks – and brief ones at that. Of course you have to appreciate Ratner’s desire to catch Hercules at a different stage in his life and attempt to find a unique strand to pick up on, rather that abiding by the classic tales we all know. However ultimately that doesn’t correspond with the nature of the piece, as the director is affectionately conventional in every other aspect of the genre, so you would hope that would extend to the narrative. Yet sadly we’re left wanting in that department, which results in a movie that fails to achieve a demigod-like status.