Hercules (Brett Ratner, 2014)

I’m no stranger to scathingly abhorring films that earn said wrath, especially in this day and age. Despite this truth, I still recognize the efforts to which certain productions go to target and enthrall a particular demographic, i.e. this year’s 300: Rise of an Empire. In the case of Brett Ratner’s staggeringly inept Hercules, nearly every mythology-infused nuance is so embarrassingly slight that entertainment is forced to take a backseat to eye-rolling.

For the uninformed, the atrocity in question attempts to tackle the man behind the myth as it presents a narrative steeped in Hercules’ involvement in the Thracian Wars. Tasked with training an ailing populace in eradicating one Rheseus’ army, the fabled demigod (Dwayne Johnson) and his skilled squad of mercenaries do just that. Prompting the now-captive Rheseus to unveil the true reasoning behind his and his army’s aggression, Hercules must set things straight as he continues to wrestle with false accusations pertaining to his family’s murder.

Although Hercules earns but one measly point for treading where others usually do, it’s truly awful to witness its unrelenting one-dimensionality play out from moment to moment. For starters, not a single key player is worth caring about nor sequence weighty enough to feel consequential. Everything presented – factional motives, flaccid humor and a rote, period-specific aesthetic – is just so disappointingly cookie-cutter that unsolicited laughter is inevitable, not to mention the implausibly uninhibited finesse with which Hercules and the gang dispatches literally hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of the oppositional masses.

While my critique is noticeably lacking in specifics, let it be known that nothing Hercules puts forth is unique enough to pique one’s interest. From the moment he’s propositioned, there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that he’ll fail, therefore the only attribute left to engage is scale and corresponding action-heavy grandiosity, of which pales in comparison to dozens of similarly testosterone-infused, moreover palpably stylish efforts. Paired with a disgracefully hasty jab at humanizing the tortured man via the loss of his family, Hercules is nothing but a failed attempt to capitalize on an agreeably popular sect of Greek mythology as it exploits the physical presence of a musclebound lead.


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