The reason to go to a Dwayne Johnson film is because the man himself oozes charm and watchability out of very muscular pore.
And Hercules, the second film about the Greek demi-god released this year, only really works because of his incredible charisma.
The rest of the cast is pretty impressive, considering the style and the material, with Ian McShane being only partly cray cray, John Hurt being old and yet threatening, and Ralph Feinnes as the King of Athens looking all delicate and flimsy next to the bronzed bulk of the mighty Rock.
But the story is fairly predictable (and occasionally a bit nonsensical; where did all the armour and weapons come from again?) and the jokes are fairly hit and miss, and it all comes across as if everyone is not taking the material seriously at all – though to be fair, that is probably a good thing.
In this tale, Hercules is a man for hire, off to help Kings and men, all for a price in gold. He is joined by a thief, a wise man, an Amazon warrior, a berserker and a story teller, all of whom bring different skills and talents to help build the myth of the invincible Hercules, assisted ably by the imposing presence of the man himself.
As with all these sorts of tales, there is a dark back story as well, with Hercules having suffered a personal tragedy in the past that haunts him and on occasion forces him to second guess himself. But overall, he is rather up beat, and when the Rock smiles, its hard not to smile along with him.
Along with the cast’s good humour, the film also made an amazing amount of hay out of its 3D. Normally, I just forget the 3D after a few minutes and the extra money and the need to wear silly glasses just feels pointless. However, the use of 3D in this film was great, with “very obvious” 3D scenes reminding me that I had paid a bit extra to experience javelins being thrown towards me, and I was much the happier for it.
Oddly though, the cinema was not as packed as I had imagined it would be for a cheapskate Tuesday at Readings shortly after the films release. I imagine the film itself has been a modest success, and considering how much I enjoyed it, I am quite keen to recommend it to all who may be into that sort of thing.
Verdict: The Rock’s Hercules was a huge amount of fun, if a little slow and predictable. For all its many, many faults and lack of originality, it was very well made and (mostly) lots of fun. Good on the Rock too for being so damned awesome. 7 tasks out of 12.
PS - we didn't see this version; I don't think it even got a theatrical release...