Movie Review: Hercules

It has been such a long time.

Guys, I apologize for that. I’ve been in a writing funk lately, working on sports features and I was at my church camp two weeks ago, which meant I had no access to a computer or a phone for a week.

I’ve still been watching movies and have been saving drafts so I know what I need to get back to, but nothing ready to publish yet. Then I opened up Netflix for the first time in a while and there were a bunch of new releases. There are a bunch of films I’m excited to see on Netflix so aside from what’s on Netflix, what’s in theaters and what I own, don’t expect anything else. It’s time to get back to reviews. That and Breaking Bad.

And so, the first film that caught my eye on Netflix and will be my first review after my hiatus is….Hercules?

I’m as surprised as you but it was the first thing that jumped out to me. It’s been almost four weeks since my last post. I had to start cracking pronto.

I had considered seeing this in theaters but then I saw Brett Ratner and was like, “ha ha ha, NO.”

Even I, someone who’s never been a big fan of the X-Men franchise, understands how bad a movie X-Men: The Last Stand was. It was awful, one of the worst superhero films ever made. However, I find myself believing Ratner might have a resurgence. He directed the Rush Hour franchise and they all entertained at the most basic level. I think Ratner needs to go back to the basics. Make people laugh again and stop taking the dramas and action power plays. Leave those to the big boys.

As expected, Hercules is built on heavy CGI and by heavy I mean noticeable. This film could have been the rebirth or final bullet in Brett Ratner’s career. This was a big deal and we’re starting off with suspect visuals? I’m not saying I’m rooting for the guy but come on, man.

In ways, Hercules is what I expected it to be. It’s mindless action at its most bare which is also one of the biggest problems with it. Hercules is a legend and therefore, his character should be presented as such. Instead, Ratner seems lured to repeat what his successful predecessors have done (big budget action films) and misses out on the film’s greatest asset. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a solid actor and one of the few who did not start as an actor but who can act. Sadly, Johnson is neglected for almost the entire film. He trained for the role for more than half a year and yet is given no character to exemplify. Can you imagine dedicating that much time to something and then you get there and the event’s cancelled?

It’s a huge blight on the film that Ratner dismisses his most valuable piece to the film’s success, putting an unfair amount of responsibility on the supporting cast who is now led by a faceless hero. Hercules, a character that has been immortalized in history for centuries, remains faceless. Quite an achievement, Ratner. Quite an achievement.

Thank God for Ian McShane, as much of the comedy and Hercules‘ most entertaining moments are delivered by him. The rest of the supporting cast doesn’t hold the experience nor the talent required to cover up the “protagonist out to lunch” placard, leaving McShane looking around like, “Guys?”

The characters are weak as is the writing. Only with McShane is there any light at the end of the tunnel. I appreciate the side crew element in action-based films but there isn’t enough quirks or more importantly, dialogue and character establishment, to make me care about these characters. They are there and I’m forced to put up with them.

With Hercules’ character left behind, any plot threads associated with him hold minute value, which sadly are all of them. A few days later, I’m still struggling to understand how you look at this finished product and you think, “Yeah, we did the character of Hercules justice.” They let Johnson walk into the spotlight and then they threw a cloak over him. It’s like throwing a cloak over an easel because the artist didn’t know what to paint, so he tried to sell his clients a covered canvas. Makes no sense, but I guess $100 million budgets allow this these days?

To go even further, Ratner pokes fun at the legend of Hercules, painting it as a fool’s charade rather than a feared fable. Would it have been hard to craft the hero that I so wanted from this film? Of course. Was it within the reach of Ratner? Absolutely but when I see a film struggling as hard as this one is, I truly don’t think Ratner cares anymore what people think of him.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Anchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesLeon: The ProfessionalEnemySleeping with the EnemyEquilibrium)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Terminator: GenisysBlack SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the Street)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitzThe PunisherDrive Hard)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (The Lost BoysZombeaversCrankErasedI, Frankenstein)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future Past)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (CyborgOutcastSabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. Evil)

My score for Hercules: 53.

With standard action and a plot line built on a bedrock of plot twists rather than on character, Hercules is the final nail in the coffin for Brett Ratner’s career. In what should have been a big deal for Johnson’s acting career, Ratner manages to make him as irrelevant as a snowball in the Florida summer heat. In closing, goodbye Brett Ratner. I think we all stopped wanting you after X-Men: The Last Stand.

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