How many times can we see the same story? Probably not as many times as we will see it in the future. But we still watch it for different, and hopefully unique takes on the classic story.
This version, directed by Brett Ratner, is a typical summer blockbuster. It’s action-packed, there are big effects, grand set pieces, and mindless entertainment. The details aren’t what’s important–just that you’re entertained. And it’s never more evident than in 2014’s Hercules.
But what works is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s fun rather than overly self-important.
Ratner’s techniques may be cliche and predictable (everyone always shows up perfectly on time to save the day), but it may work to his advantage as the characters aren’t as dry as many ancient action-dramas. He keeps the tone surprisingly consistent and seems to bring great charisma out of his actors. Ian McShane, who plays one of Hercules’ men, is a highlight here as he gives us great comic relief without it sounding too forced, and Dwayne Johnson (Hercules) provides much depth to a character who is somewhat thought of as a mega stoic. The rest of the ensemble have distinct personalities and refrain from becoming lost in the crowd as most secondary characters do in films of this nature.
The fodder is immensely modernized and you tend to forget that you’re in ancient Greece, but there are hardly any holes in the smarter-than-it-looks script. The humor is very natural and it doesn’t ever risk becoming too light when it’s not supposed to be. Instead of bringing us more Clash of the Titans, it gives us more The Mummy.
Going into this I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I enjoyed every last bit of this film as this unique take on Hercules has incredible charisma of its own.