Paramount Pictures



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It’s no surprise that Evan Spiliotopoulos, the veteran of Hercules’s two credited screenwriters, has made a career out of penning direct-to-video Disney titles, as this sorry excuse for a summer spectacle—PG-13-friendly levels of gore and sexuality and a singular F-bomb notwithstanding—appears to have been scripted with undemanding toddlers in mind. Beholden to action sequences made up of either trailer-ready snippets of well-composed combat or drawn-out montages of dispatched antagonists, all edited with minimal spatial clarity, this atonal contraption fluctuates haphazardly between semi-serious reverence and tongue-in-cheek camp, with no shortage of opportunities for the inevitable Rifftrax accompaniment. And save for a committed, if ultimately wasted, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and an admirably game John Hurt, the cast’s apathy is palpable, with characters reciting musty platitudes that make even the stiffest creations of Andy and Lana Wachowski seem deeply textured by comparison. The film, in keeping with Steve Moore’s revisionist take on the Greek hero for Radical Comics, though gutted of the late artist’s insights, departs from the traditional Hercules myth, seeing the hero as a mercenary contracted by King Cotys (Hurt), whose kingdom is besieged by ostensibly supernatural forces. A purported subversion of Hercules’s demigod status is about the only element in the script that constitutes an actual idea, and one it roundly fails to explore in any meaningful fashion. This Hercules merely goes through the motions, speaking loudly to the laziness and deep-seated cynicism of an industry eager to forgo a great opportunity for a quick paycheck.

Paramount Pictures
98 min
Brett Ratner
Ryan Condol, Evan Spiliotopoulos
Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Aksel Hennie, Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Reece Ritchie, Joseph Fiennes, Tobias Santelmann