As much as I love him, Hercules is kind of a middling hero. He's not the strongest (that's Atlas), or the most cerebral (Odysseus, imo), or the #1 boner-inducer (Achilles, duh). He's just kind of...a guy. The big thing that makes Hercules great is his labors—the fact that he is just constantly going on quests and punching an awesome monster. The monsters are kind of his deal.
So imagine my delight at watching the Hercules trailer, an apparently faithful, straightforward adaptation in which Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (MY FAVORITE ACTOR, OBVIOUSLY) covers ALL THE HITS. The hydra? PUNCH. Nemean lion? PUNCH. That dickhead Erymanthian boar? PUUUNCH. One by one, all the monsters of Greece are like, "Hmm...wha...what is that weird sma-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-laooww?" And then OH SHIT. IT'S WHAT DWAYNE "THE ROCK JOHNSON'S KNUCKLE-SANDWICHES ARE COOKING. (They are cooking even more sandwiches.)
See? Did you watch it? This trailer is just 100% monsters sma-la-la-la-la-la-la-laoowing what Dwayne "The Rock" is cooking, and then Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson punching them in slow motion. And that seemed like a great plan to me! There's a lot to work with there, in the labors of Hercules. It's ripe fodder for a big-budget action movie—especially now that special effects have caught up with the mythical imagination—and I was ready. Take me, Hercules. I need a hero.
Instead, I got Brett "He's No McG" Ratner.
SPOILERS AHEAD, ALL OF THEM, BECAUSE THIS MOVIE CAN SNIFF MY HOLE.
Okay. SO. You know all that monster-punching in the trailer? Literally all of it takes place in the first ten fucking seconds of the movie. Some dude is going on and on, braggin' about the tales of Hercules, and he's like "he fought this lion real good one time" [lion clip], and "then he fought this hydra" [hydra clip], and "also this boar thingy" [boar clip], and you're like...but...wait...if he already punched all the monsters, then what is Hercules going to do for the whole rest of this movie, which presumably isn't just 84 seconds long?
Oh, maybe just BE A BORING-ASS OLD-TIMEY GRIFTER WHO MADE UP THE WHOLE HERCULES THING TO GET HIS MERCENARY BIZ OFF THE GROUND WHILE TEACHING A HAM-FISTED LESSON ABOUT THE POWER OF PROPAGANDA AND HOW BELIEVING IN YOURSELF IS THE REAL MAGIC, THAT'S ALL.
You know what's even more magical than believing in yourself? FUCKING REAL ACTUAL MAGIC, YOU DILDOS.
"Hercules" (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is your basic sword-guy for hire, wandering around with his merry band of hench-Greeks: the wacky soothsayer (Ian McShane); his whiny nephew who is sort of a Hellenic JustJared (Reece Ritchie); the weird angry dog-man (Aksel Hennie); the guy-who's-just-kind-of-an-extra-guy (Rufus Sewell, trying!); and the girl one (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal).
One day this hot babe shows up and is like, "Yo. Hercules. My dad, John Hurt, is getting totally douched by this warlord. We'll pay you mad gold nuggets if you come help. Also, centaurs are real."
So Hercules is like fiiiiiiiiiiiiiine, even though Hercules is getting too old for this shit, and they bop over to Thrace in their hero-chariots to do John Hurt a solid. (BRETT RATNER'Z RAT-FACTZ™: The Rock brought his own chariot from home.)
Of course John Hurt immediately looks at the girl one and goes, "I fear that the task ahead might not be suitable for a woman," so she's like oh yeah? BOOSH. And she shoots an arrow really good.* And John Hurt's eyebrows are all, "What sorcery is this!?!? It looks like a woman, but it acts like a human being, kind of!" And Hercules is like [pat, pat] on her widdle head.
I think that scene sums up most people's understanding of "feminism."
Herc and the gang take John Hurt's army and run off to fight this warlord who is maybe a centaur. They come to a burned-out corpse village and they're like, "Ew newwww! Centaur'd!!!" Except then—double centaur'd!—some of the corpses aren't really dead! They're just pretending! And also some of the ground is only pretending to be the ground! It's really holes full of guys! Oh no! "We walked into a TRAP!" says somebody.
I mean, yeah, I guess. Good "trap," guys. "You see, what we did was we spent eight months digging enough big, deep holes to hide an entire army, and then we sat in the holes, and covered ourselves in hay, and waited for you guys to show up—which was totally not a guarantee, by the way—also hoping that if you ever got here you wouldn't immediately drive your chariots into any of the many, many enormous holes that are literally all over this village, because that would really spoil the 'trap.' AND squish us."
Good use of calories, bros. Truly a military tour de force.
But anyhoo, Hercules is like, "Protect John Hurt!!!**" and cries his signature battle cry: "DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!" And the "trap" dudes are like, "No shit? That's our battle cry too! DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!" And thus commences a 90-minute fight sequence that lasts until the fucking end of the movie, except for the part where they go out of their way to specify that centaurs aren't real.
SCAH-REW YEW, BRETT RATNER.
*By the way, CAN A WOMAN HAVE A FUCKING SWORD FOR ONCE? Yeah, I know she's Atalanta, and she has a backstory to follow, but come on. The sexy-loincloth-lady-with-a-bow trope can officially sniff it.
**Dude, haven't you read Sun Tzu? Never bring your John Hurt to a battle.