BWW Reviews: The Rock Turns into a Grecian Superhero in HERCULES
Hercules, as the story goes, is the half-mortal son of Zeus, King of the Gods... or is that just a rumor? The new "Hercules" movie out this week, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the most famous of Greek God offspring, asks the audience to question everything that they know about this millennia-old myth. The film's script asks us to wonder if Hercules is truly a demi-god or just a mercenary with good PR. But the film's tone and feel presents us with a less philosophical version of the same question, is he more Superman or Batman? While these questions lay out a compelling introductory act to the film, one that touches on themes of guilt, fate, and faith, they are unfortunately abandoned as the movie becomes more action-focused in the later reels.
It doesn't take long into the movie's nearly 100-minute running time to realize that director Brett Ratner is hoping that this will become the tent-pole for a mythology based superhero franchise; "The Ancient Avengers" perhaps. To be fair, I could think of many far-worse ways to spend a few hours every other summer. Ostensibly based on the graphic novel "Hercules: The Thracian Wars" by Steve Moore, the movie has a slightly more traditional style than Frank Miller's "300", but it's action and effects are nonetheless exciting.
The film chronicles what is supposed to be Hercules' last adventure, as he, aided by his team of "hired swords," is finally on the brink of earning enough gold to retire to the beaches of the Black Sea and to live a solitary life as a fugitive from Athens; where he is accused of murdering his wife and children.
Along with childhood friend Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), prophet Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), animal-like fighter Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), Amazon-archer Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), and his hype-man cousin Iolaus, Hercules travels to Thrace at the behest of Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson) to help her father Lord Cotys (John Hurt) defend his kingdom against the warlord Rheseus (Tobias Santelmann). In doing so, Hercules must confront what he wants his legend to be, and, more importantly, what type of man he wants to be. As is pretty much standard operating procedure in superhero films, there is a double-cross or two along the way, and while that they happened was anticipated, what they actually were was not. So kudos to Ratner on that.