There are so many movies that come out in the summer now that it's hard to keep track and easy to lose them in the suffle. It's funny when a movie trailer comes out online and your reaction is, "what the hell is that?" Hercules was one of those films. It's the story of the Greek demigod, Hercules (actually not at all) and he's played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Before you say that it's nice to actually see an original action movie that's not based on a comic book, hold your Trojan Horses because it is. This is based on a graphic novel that very few poeple know about and there's probably a good reason; it's stupid.
Director Brett Ratner is the enemy as far as I'm concerned. He's the uber Hollywood stiff you bring in when you want to make something that is intended to make money but be completely disposable. He's kind of like the junk food of directors. He's done the Rush Hour series, the worst X-Men film, Red Dragon and Tower Heist. He's terrible but he pulls off whatever it is the studio tells him to do which is why he's still working. Hercules is by far his grandest scale and it almost flirts with the adjective "epic" despite having a script that is B-movie quality.
I feel bad for The Rock because he's not a bad actor. It's easy to pigeon-hole him as a meathead that is good for action films and that's it. However, he's proven his chops in comedy and drama as well. It's a shame that he reserves himself for whatever bloated blockbuster rolls down the pike because he's like having a gifted student fail his classes because he's not trying. Hercules is no different than his usual cannon in that it's an action film with a two-dimentional character that yells and hits and that's about it. He's surronded by gifted actors such as John Hurt (Alien, the Harry Potter series), Rufus Sewell (Dark City, The Illusionist) and Ian McShane (HBO's Deadwood, Snow White and the Huntsmen). All of them do the best they can with classic stereotypes of sidekicks and villains that are way below the caliber these guys are worth putting out.
The irony is that Hercules isn't a bad film. It's kind of shocking that it's pulled off so well and is so entertaining. The entire thing is crap but if you're gonna make crap like this then this is the way to do it. It's an epic on the scale of an Oscar-nominated Best Picture written with a script that must have been penned by a child. The dialogue is ridiculous and the action is plentiful. In fact, how Hercules secured a PG-13 rating proves that the MPAA is as meaningless as has been speculated for years. The members should be ashamed that a film with such violence and a body count in the hundreds is given a "suitable for children 13 and over" and a film like The Grand Budapest Hotel gets an R-rating.
If you're in the mood for seasoned performers at the top of their game giving meaningful performances in a film that challeges while it entertains...Hercules isn't for you. But if you're in the mood to buy a suitcase full of popcorn, sit in a dark theater and watch things explode and people die, this is done well enough for that level of entertainment. It's stupid, silly, ridiculous and, above all, fun. And really at the end of the summer, isn't that all we're in the mood for anyway?