FILM REVIEW: Herculean effort from ‘The Rock’ Johnson just about saves flimsy sword and sandals epic

Dwayne Johnson plays Hercules in HERCULES, from Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures..H-00293R ANL-140508-154121001
Dwayne Johnson plays Hercules in HERCULES, from Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures..H-00293R ANL-140508-154121001
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REVIEW: HERCULES (12A)

SHOWCASE CINEMAS PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: DWAYNE JOHNSON, RUFUS SEWELL, JOHN HURT, IAN McSHANE, REBECCA FERGUSON, INGRID BOLSO BERDAL, REECE RITCHIE & JOSEPH FIENNES

RUNNING TIME: 1 HR 35 MINS

DIRECTOR: BRETT RATNER

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson gives it his all – and just about saves this flimsy sword-and-sandals epic.

One thing Hercules deserves plaudits for is doing the reverse of most films – by actually getting better as it goes on.

Sadly the opening is a generically limp affair – even looking pretty poor compared to the likes of Troy, Alexander and Kingdom of Heaven – but through a nice twist just over half-way through, and a fairly amiable cast led by Johnson, and Brit stars Rufus Sewell and Ian McShane, it avoids being the disaster it easily could have been.

With much-maligned X-Men: The Last Stand director Brett Ratner at the helm it was never going to have the class or finesse of something like Gladiator, but this big-budget re-telling of the legendary Greek demi-god goes for a more comic-book feel that just about comes off.

After surviving the infamous twelve labours, his life as a sword-for-hire is tested when the King of Thrace, Lord Cotys (John Hurt), and his daughter, Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson), seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord – but not everything is quite what it seems after Hercules and his team of mercenaries train up the king’s army.

Considering there’s already been a mega-flop based on the powerhouse out earlier this year (Legend of Hercules), this does a better job, without offering anything new whatsoever.

It would have been better if it had sported a slightly more serious Clash of the Titans-esque tone, but it’s ultimately pretty harmless fun – and Johnson is one of those guys who seems to get the best out of a movie hampered by a dreadfully clunky script.

If ya’ smell what Hercules is cookin’...

Gavin Miller – Rating: 3/5