Monthly Archives: August 2014

FILM REVIEW: Hercules (2014) – zero or hero?

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(Rating: 12A, 98 mins) Written by Zen Terrelonge

Starring – Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Rufus Sewell.

The classic tale from Greek mythology has been reimagined, with the titular Hercules played by man-mountain, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

But while his appearance may have been transformed with a wig and beard, ultimately, he’s still The Rock.

Dwayne Johnson Hercules The Rock

There’s nothing wrong with that generally, I love the People’s Champion as much as the next person, however, I didn’t really see another layer to his abilities, which is a shame given the epic setting of Ancient Greece.

The film begins by explaining the legend behind Hercules’ birth, with King of the Gods, Zeus, betraying wife Hera by conceiving an illegitimate lovechild with a mortal.

Fast-forward to adulthood and Johnson is in the sandals of demigod Hercules, completing the famous 12 labours – hunting and killing oversized monsters – that Hera has set before him.

This should have been one of the most exciting moments in the film, but his battering of beasts was over all too soon.

The 12 labours are a character-building process that should have let the audience engage with Herc’s plight, not to mention enjoy some incredible action sequences, but the creature carnage barely lasts on the screen for two minutes and is simply used for narrative purposes.

In other words, what you see in the trailer is exactly what you get.

Dwayne Johnson Hercules The Rock

One real bugbear was that Johnson never adopted a British accent, which might sound strange given that the man is an American playing a Greek, but it’s standard protocol for period films.

Just look at Brad Pitt in Troy – he didn’t utter “you sack of wine” in the tones of Oklahoma, no, he shrieked it in his best UK tongue, while Russell Crowe in Gladiator didn’t bellow “are you not entertained?” as a New Zealander.

As a result Johnson’s dialect stands out like a sore thumb, especially as the rest of the cast are indeed owners of British diction, so it was a curious decision to make and it’s one I don’t fully understand.

It’s obvious Johnson has put his all into the film, both physically and dramatically, but it’s the script and direction that’s really at fault here.

Dwayne Johnson Hercules The Rock

Despite the opportunity to create a an epic drama like the Troys and Gladiators I’ve already mentioned, it’s more of an adventure story that goes from slapstick to serious at will, thus he isn’t truly challenged to say or do anything that seems to be entirely out of his comfort zone.

Redeeming qualities include a few twists and turns which play on the fable,  as well as some cool battle sequences, but they’re not enough to make up for the fact the film is more man than god.