Hercules has its moments, says Paloma Sharma.
From the maker of Mirror, Mirror and Rush Hour, Hercules tells a tale that we've heard once before this year with The Legend of Hercules, but with a thankfully refreshing twist.
There is no way to speak of the phenomenon that is Hercules (2014) except by way of comparison. While Hercules, the hero, might be part-mortal, part-God, Hercules, the film, is surely part-The Scorpion King, part-Gladiator, part-Troy and part-The Expendables.
Instead of going down the mainstream way and showing Hercules as a a demigod who was born to be a hero, the film has its titular character as a mercenary with superhuman strength and a merry little band of men and a lady, who have enough tricks up their sleeves to keep the legend and Hercules' reputation alive.
Hercules and his mini-army are just one job away from retirement and a life of peace when trouble shows up at their door -- well, the local drinking joint's door, really -- in the form of Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson), daughter of the King of Thrace, Lord Cotys (John Hurt).
Lord Cotys asks Hercules and Co for their help to defeat the bloodthirsty Rhesus (Tobias Santelmann).
Now, if you're a slightly scientifically literate person, you will find it terribly difficult to buy that Rhesus is the name of an evil warlord and not that of a monkey.
However, we are further told that Rhesus is an evil warlord who commands an army of demons and centaurs, which ravages village and has neither mercy nor a weakness.
Lord Cotys seeks Hercules' help to defeat Rhesus before he destroys Thrace in exchange for twice of Hercules' weight in gold.
Hercules and his band of mercenaries agree but as the battle progresses, as the past haunts them and the future confuses him even more, Hercules cannot decide which side he's on and which side is the right one.
Before you start analysing this, please remember that Hercules has The Rock frolicking about the battle field in a mini skirt that's shorter than that of his fellow actor/Nicole Kidman lookalike Ingrid Berdal, who plays an Amazonian warrior with little muscle and even lesser dialogues.
If you go into this one looking for serious or even potentially logical cinema, then you're probably the person who waits at Dadar station for a 6 pm Virar local and expects it to be empty.
Hercules was made for three reasons and three reasons only:
1. To prove that The Rock has still got it in him. (TAKE THAT JOHN CENA FANS! Forgive me, this is an emotional moment).
2. To film battle sequences worth hundreds of thousands of dollars which will further rake in a couple of a million; and
3. Because the director, Brett Ratner, got bored and needed something to pass time
Hercules flows like series of bell curves -- it starts off as ridiculous, becomes interesting, goes back to being ridiculous -- but when it clicks, it really clicks.
While all the fighting and the bloodshed certainly forms an integral part of the film, it is really interesting to watch the planning of the battle -- an aspect a lot of films which depict war, leave out.
Hercules keeps you guessing until the end whether the Gods really do play a part in our heroes' collective destinies or whether they craft their own. You know the answer already, of course, but you watch any way.
Dwayne Johnson charms the camera.
Although he looks extremely amusing in a beard and ancient Greek battle gear, he convinces you that he, a brown man, is indeed, Hercules.
Its funny how race is neither addressed nor questioned -- which works well because its about time we had unapologetically coloured protagonists (although, a more belieavble setting would have been better) without a backstory to support what they're doing there.
Hercules works because it rests on the shoulders of Johnson, who pulls it through spectacularly.
Hercules displays its moments of witty dialogue and darkly humorous situations.
But they are too few and far in between.
Ian McShane, who plays Amphiaraus, the soothsayer of the company, is the most likeable character of them all and McShane's vast experience clearly helps him turn a so-so script into a grand performance.
The script could certainly use a little work.
While the story and the concept are interesting, the screenplay seems to be divided into three quarters of an act pre-interval and a quarter of an act post-interval, when the film comes to its climax.
Hercules is just one of those films which you should only go for if you've spent your childhood imitating stunts from WWE (then called WWF) and used The Rock Bottom or The People's Elbow on your sibling for supporting John Cena (unforgiveable sin, I tell you).
Although I watched the film in English, something tells me that this one's going to be a lot better if dubbed in Hindi. Take Malibu's Most Wanted as an example if you don't believe me.
3D is completely wasted on Hercules as is a multiplex.
Either go single screen or go home.