Cert: 12A / 98 mins / Dir. Brett Ratner
So as readers of the WoB Facebook Page will probably know, I wasn't expecting great things of Hercules, and dear old Brett Ratner has still managed to slightly disappoint me. Not massively; that's not his style. He just takes it to the line where you think "Oh, Brett. Was this really your vision for the project? Really, though?"
I don't have any real problem with undemanding entertainment in the cinema as long as there's a healthy dose of fun to go along with it. Sadly, the screenplay of Ratner's latest flick seems to have been written as part of a GCSE project and is a completely subtext-free zone, with characters explaining the plot at every turn; to the point where they even explain the emotions that Dwayne Johnson can't emote properly*1.
By the time you add on Herc's super-team of allies; the mystical sage one (McShane), the wisecracking mercenary one (Sewell), the troubled beserker one (Hennie), the girl one (Berdal) and the young funny upstart one (Ritchie); you've basically got a live-action 1980's Filmation cartoon (but with the notable addition of a couple of 'Bastard's and one 'Fuck-Word', to get that 'edgy' 12A certificate).
Chronicling the last of the labours of Hercules (well, so it says - Ritchie's godawful narration mentions the twelve tasks in the opening scene, then only goes on to show/describe three of them*2), the screenplay lurches between mechanical and full-on laughable. At least the cast have the decency to look and sound embarrassed with some of the lines they have to deliver (John Hurt is an exception, see below). The fact that it's "based on" a a graphic novel strengthens the poor reputation that ink-to-screen adaptations already have, and the film betrays its 300-wannabe roots with an animated credit sequence which is marginally more interesting than the film which preceded it.
By no means the most poorly received film to bear the name this year, Hercules is nonetheless an unconvincing effort, made more prominent by the scattering of renowned names in its cast list.
Although the plot-nods to Star Wars and Seven Samurai could be described at best as "borrowing", Hercules saves its most profound cinematic homage to reference The Wizard Of Oz; in that the film displays remarkable courage, but no heart and no brain.
Oh, pretty much.
I laughed more than I was supposed to; that's about it, I'm afraid.
I'd be worried if it does.
I doubt I'd expend the effort to vehemently disagree with you, no.
Can't see that happening, but who knows?
I think I heard one buried in the final battle scene where Everything Is On Fire. Although I was hoping there was going to be one earlier when people were getting shot off horses, as that would be the purest use of the effect. Alas, not.
John. John Hurt. What were you thinking? You're cheapening your own brand with this shit, really.
The others? They're made for this b-list stuff, and I know we've all got bills to pay, but I expect more from you.
*1 I'm not trying to be unfair to Johnson, I've seen him be more than adequate on many occasions; but this really isn't the film for him, muscles or not. His character needs to portray grief and regret, neither of which are straightforward at the best of times.
*2 And how come right, how come, we see Herc fighting a massive lion with his bare hands, then later we see him wearing a sort of feline-Davy-Crockett-hat fashioned from a lion which was clearly a third of the size of the one he apparently killed? Did he kill its kittens, too? What an absolute bastard.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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