Friday, August 8, 2014

Hercules: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

Did you know, The Rock is in a Hercules movie? That alone makes this an interesting idea... who would be better casting right now for that role? But Brett Ratner is also the director, which quickly makes me wonder...
The saddest fact about Hercules is that we still aren't getting a legitimate adaptation of his story... the twelve labors and the monolithic son-of-god hero quality. Regardless, there's a fun concept buried in this film. Hercules is a traveling mercenary for hire. He has a team of warriors that trust him completely. And he's about to get A LOT of money doing a job for the king of Thrace. But under all of his battle-worn rough soldier exterior, he's still got a conscience. And it's telling him something's not right in his new boss' kingdom.
The cast is actually quite excellent. Obviously Dwayne Johnson got beefed up even more than usual for the part. And he does a solid job with a lackluster script. And John Hurt is (as always) a joy to watch as the king. He seems to just be having such a good time these days. Every film I've seen him in of late, I could sense that he's just glad to be out there doing his job. Then there's Ian McShane, who makes a pretty ridiculous character role still feel entertaining enough not to get too old too fast. Rufus Sewell has been better, but he's just here to be a clean voice of reason... sort of. I was still happy to see him show up. And I really liked Ingrid Bolsø Berdal. I hope I get to see more from her in the future.
But the positives pretty much end there. The final film is irrationally squeaky clean, leading me back to my original expectation, that Brett Ratner doesn't really know or care how to put any amount of edge or style into his movies. I liked Red Dragon back in 2002, but since then... and even before really (yeah I'm including the Rush Hours)... it's been a steady stream of unimpactful, formulaic, boring movies. I think everybody already realized this long ago, but he's not the guy Spielberg thought he would be when he gave him a chance all those years ago.
Hercules could've been a really entertaining, bigger-than-life, sword and sandal, action flick. But in the end, a poor script and even poorer direction left it sprawling in a pool of mediocrity. While I'd like to say, "we deserve better," I'm sadly aware they can't all be winners. Oh well.

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