REVIEW | ‘Hercules’ made too weak a character to carry this film

In “Hercules,” director Brett Ratner really wants you to know that it’s about Hercules. In fact, the movie is 98 minutes of people being blown away by Hercules.

“Hercules” is an awful, utterly pointless retelling of the Greek legend, yet it thinks it’s doing something different. In this new version, Ratner and his crew tell us the “real” story of Hercules. Hercules isn’t the son of Zeus; he didn’t fight a super-strong lion or a three-headed dragon. He’s not immortal.

So, then, who is he? He’s a common mercenary with a set of really good publicists. He’s mortal. And through storytelling and much, much exaggeration, he’s been boosted to legend status.

The problem is, when you eliminate the mythology part of Hercules’ character and don’t add any human depth to him, you’re left with just another mercenary with a sword who has nothing going for him. Ratner eliminates the only compelling and unique qualities the character has.

On top of that, Hercules doesn’t need to be a demigod for us to know that he will inevitably kick butt — it’s Hercules! Of course, he will destroy everyone who challenges him. So there’s no point in trying to normalize him.

In a not-so-surprising move, Ratner has cast Dwayne Johnson (with bigger biceps than normal) as the titular demigod — er, normal every-warrior. It’s perfect casting — therefore, bad casting. If you’re going a retelling of Hercules than you probably shouldn’t cast the jacked-up, ex-wrestler/human action figure in the lead role. As usual, Johnson doesn’t act as much as just stand there and look tough…and hit men with a club.

The plot is as generic and unpredictable as it could possibly be. There aren’t any dragons or centaurs, though the movie could have used some to liven things up.

In addition, the picture is populated by supporting characters as bland and one-note as Hercules himself, including his merry band of mercenary friends who just think he’s the best guy ever.

And, finally, there’s CGI that goes from mediocre to horrendous-looking, such as a wall of fire that blazes during the final battle and somehow engulfs a stone temple.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about “Hercules” is that it’s not the worst Hercules movie to come out this year. Renny Harlin’s “The Legend of Hercules” barely gets that award, only because Ratner’s “Hercules” manages to poke some fun at itself and show self-awareness at times — although, for some reason, near the end, it decides to get serious and collapses into unintentional stupidity — whereas, Harlin’s decided to take itself completely serious, with even-worse CGI effects.

It’s been a rough year for the muscly super-Greek, hasn’t it?

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