Directed by the famously average Brett Ratner, this film is the happy American popcorn cruncher in which we get to see some awesome action, some decent wisecracks, a superhero-ish lead actor with rippling muscles, and hardly any story.
What does raise the film a few notches and make it probably one of the better films directed by Ratner is its revisionist take on the tale of Hercules. Loosely adapted from Steve Moore's comic book series, the film has Dwayne
' Johnson as the mythical son of Zeus. However, instead of the superhero we expect, he is a mercenary who uses the tales of his divine parentage and superhuman labours to woo new clients and scare prospective enemies.
He doesn't fight alone either -- his childhood friend (a completely wasted Rufus Sewell), a seer (Ian McShane), his story-teller nephew (Tobias Satelmann) and an Amazon (Ingrid Berdal) -- form his army.
Hercules also hides a dark secret. It all comes tumbling out when he is hired to defend the kingdom of Thrace against an enemy which may or may not be centaurs. The aged king Lord Cotys (John Hurt) needs to train an army to fight this bad sorcerer and Hercules is just the man for the job.
The gist of the story:
you don't have to be superhuman, you just have to believe in yourself to be a real hero.
Only, it is hard to believe that maxim when you see Johnson decimating half an army with his club and actually throwing a galloping horse. The climactic sequence where we see him uprooting a statue the size of Eiffel Tower and fighting wolves with his bare hands also makes you question the have-faith-in-yourself dictum.
However, if action is what you want then nobody does it better than The Rock. He goes around killing lions and fighting serpents with a look on his face, which says, "Just a day's work".
This big budget film gets its war scenes right and good production values ensure watching it in 3D is quite a treat. There is a lot of camp humour that comes with the brother-in-arms territory that this film inhabits.
Fans of sword-and-sandal films are bound to like this one as well. Just leave your thinking caps at home.