It’s worth the admission price.
So after raving about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes the other day and how well constructed the plot and character motivations, character arc, consequences and all that. Apart from the humans not really having any meaningful arc. As well as gibbering on about how it should be a template for all blockbusters to come I am going to have to contradict myself, at least partially.
Hercules is nowhere near well written as Dawn, nor is it as carefully plotted. The first half or so of the film drags on quite laboriously yet is interspersed with moments of the Rock kicking all kinds of candy ass (including some weird green people) to keep people like me entertained (am I not?). It acknowledges its source material but it is highly revisionist when it comes to specifics. Perhaps a film about the 12 labours would’ve been more interesting but we have to work with what we have. Let’s be honest here though, I paid £6 to watch a film where a very muscly Dwayne Johnson hits people and blurts out one liners and that’s exactly what I got. The cheese levels are off the charts, it perhaps has the most toe curlingly awful ending monologue this year. But it comes with the package.
What I’m saying is that this is a deeply flawed film but for me it did not offset the overall enjoyment I had with it. Yes, films like this have been done to a better degree (300 springs to mind, yet even that isn’t too great) but you get what you pay for. This does raise the question how a critic should judge films. Should I use the same standard, or change them depending on the film? All I can really answer in relation to Hercules is that I did have a reasonable amount of fun with it. The “I AM HERCULES!!!” scene was delicious, A-Grade schlock that had my cinema practically roar with excitement.
The Rock is his usual muscly self, and although I enjoy him in these types of roles I would like to see him do more stuff like Pain & Gain. I wasn’t a huge fan of P&G as a film, but I felt it was a step in the right direction for Johnson. To be considered among the list of action star greats I think that he has to do something like Total Recall, something a little more cerebral. He is close however to taking the mantle of Schwarzenegger et al because they have dried up big time at present. Currently though, I think that The Rock (at least last year) was the most bankable star in Hollywood, so he must be doing something right. Ian McShane and John Hurt are here to bolster the credentials of the movie so it doesn’t seem like another cinematic vehicle for The Rock. They both seem like that they are just phoning it in apparently. In films like this, you sometimes need experienced heads in to “do some acting”. Naturally, the highest billed stars are The Rock and his enormous biceps. That said, I can’t quite imagine a scenario where this script becomes an art house sensation. It’s designed for the grandstands and isn’t ashamed to say so.