New Hercules movie interesting but mostly unoriginal

As Hercules, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson– wait, that isn’t… oh shit, this is from the other 2014 swords-and-sandals Hercules movie. Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment

Brett Ratner has a unique and annoying knack for making movies that deliver everything they promise viewers, but are still somehow unsatisfying. Outside of the sublime Rush Hour trilogy, pretty much everything he’s ever made falls into this category.

His new movie, Hercules, strikes exactly these chords. Dwayne Johnson plays the titular demigod and does a good job of making the movie watchable. In this film, Hercules straddles the line between being a god and a mercenary with a divine reputation as he and his team train the Thracian army to ward off attacks from bloodthirsty Rheseus (Tobias Santelmann) and his army of centaurs. During training, Hercules wrestles with memories of the 12 Labors and visions of his lost wife and children who were killed by Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the underworld who’s death was Hercules’ last, uncompleted task for the gods.

The movie is actually very interesting. It’s unclear whether Hercules is the god of legend or a man who has fostered a larger-than-life reputation, and the film is constantly playing with the uncertainty. Glimpses of creatures from Greek myth are layered onto reality, only appearing in dreams or when the light hits them just right. The movie is open to wide interpretation.

That said, there’s nothing to really make you think that interpretation is in anyway important. The whole production is pretty been-there, done-that, from the amazon in the bikini armor (Ingrid Bolsø Bernal) to the wild soldier who won’t speak (Aksel Hennie). The Rock will always be an audience favorite, but that’s about the only draw this movie boasts.

Joshua Knopp is a formerly professional film critic, licensed massage therapist, journalism and film student at the University of North Texas and a senior staff writer for the NT Daily. Set phasers to LOVE ME!!!  For questions, rebuttals and further guidance about cinema, you can reach him at reelentropy@gmail.com. At this point, I’d like to remind you that you shouldn’t actually go to movies and form your own opinions. That’s what I’m here for.

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