‘Hercules’ Reviews: Does the Dwayne Johnson Movie Rock or Is it More Brett Ratner Schlock?

The movie doesn’t quite live up to the star’s wrestling nickname, but it should live up to expectations audiences attained from the trailer or its director’s previous work

Hercules 2014

“Hercules,” the latest movie to send Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on a mission to wrestle bad guys on the big screen, is now playing in theaters and is being hailed as OK, at best.

The Paramount release directed by Brett Ratner (“Rush Hour”), a favorite target for critics, has garnered a 65 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, at the moment.

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Based on Radical Comics’ “Hercules” by Steve Moore, the PG-13 action flick follows Johnson and a few fighting friends (Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) on a mission to save a princess from a tyrannical warlord.

Despite the movie’s unique approach of flipping the popular legend on its head by making Hercules a mere mortal, TheWrap‘s Inkoo Kang was not impressed.

“A bore, a drag, an eyesore, a trifle: Brett Ratner‘s ‘roid-brained ‘Hercules’ is all of these, but most of all it’s a self-satisfied smirk drawn on a 64-ounce protein shake,” Kang wrote in her review. “It’s a supernatural epic that never feels quite colossal or consequential enough, as well as an utter waste of Dwayne Johnson‘s unique dopey-flirty charm in a starring role that requires him only to open his mouth very wide when yelling and look unmistakably masculine while wearing nothing but a leather miniskirt and one of those animal-head hats popular with middle-school girls.”

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Ouch. But maybe Ratner’s vision is one meant to be viewed and appreciated particularly by fellas.

According to TimeOut critic Tom Huddleston, no, it’s just “a complete mess.”

“Given that its director is the widely derided Brett Ratner (‘Rush Hour’, ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’), it’s no great surprise that ‘Hercules’ is a complete mess: the plot barely hangs together, the characters are meagrely sketched and the 3D digital effects are plasticky, indistinct and wearying to look at,” Huddleston wrote. “The script contains a handful of decent comic asides and there’s one great mid-battle moment where Herc throws a horse, but on the whole this is decidedly non-legendary.”

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Despite the movie’s shortcomings, which should be almost expected by anyone who has seen the trailer, USA Today critic Scott Bowles thinks “Hercules” accomplished what it set out to do: Entertain.

“Credit Dwayne Johnson and director Brett Ratner, of all people, for accomplishing the near-mighty in ‘Hercules’: They’ve made a sword-and-sandal spectacle that entertains,” Bowles wrote. “And though it’s not the second coming of 300, this ‘Hercules’ proves surprisingly knowing of the legend — and surprisingly willing to tweak it.”

Vulture critic Bilge Ebiri came to the same conclusion in a much less-flattering manner, and complimented the movie by saying it’s “fine for what it is — a fun, disposable trifle.”

“‘Hercules’ has no right to be as entertaining as it is. It’s dumb, choppy, cheap-looking, and it even somehow manages to waste the Rock … but this big-budget jettisoning of the Greek myth, based on Steve Moore’s Radical comic, is also a million miles from the self-important grandiosity of the ‘300’ films,” Ebiri wrote. “It has a playful heart and spirited cast, and little else. But — and maybe this is just what George W. Bush called ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations’ speaking — that turns out to be (mostly) enough.”

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Chances are, if moviegoers are excited for this movie, they’re excited for the kind of escapism entertainment action movies usually offer. If that’s you, then rest assured, because Empire critic Dan Jolin says the movie was plenty of it.

“This is brisk, brutal, silly (in a good way) pulp entertainment, whose clunky exposition and continuity errors can be easily forgiven,” Jolin wrote. “With ‘Hercules,’ Brett Ratner and Dwayne Johnson are out to entertain you — no more, no less. And that is just what they do. “