Everything Guardians of the Galaxy gets right with its mix of action and comedy, Hercules botches. OK, I’m biased. I never needed to see another Hercules epic, especially after Twilight‘s Kellan Lutz stunk up the myth of the Greek demigod in January’s dead-on-arrival The Legend of Hercules. But, geez, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson seems born for the role. Apologies to Steve Reeves, Lou Ferrigno, Kevin Sorbo and the other muscle Hollywood hired to flex for the camera, but Johnson packs way more than brawn. The Rock has humor, charm and real acting chops. And director Brett Ratner could boast solid source material in the five-issue Radical Comics series Hercules: The Thracian Wars by the late Steve Moore. They had a shot at something here, and they blew it.
The bisexual rageaholic Moore put in the Comics is nowhere to be found in this tiresomely timid PG-13 movie written by Ryan J. Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos. What we get is a myth-busting Hercules eager to show us how all his fabled acts of heroism were tricks. Like many a Hollywood actor, Hercules is muscle for hire. Princess Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson) meets his quote so Herc will help her Thracian daddy, King Cotys (John Hurt), defeat the evil sorcerer Rhesus (Tobias Santelmann). Cue the battle scenes with Hercules conquering soldiers in body paint and a lineup of computer-generated creatures that turn the screen into a wash of pixels and the mind to mush. Audiences, we’ve been had.