Thanksgiving in July, or, Hercules

You’ve read a negative movie review before, so when I tell you I wasn’t a fan of director Brett Ratner’s Hercules right up top you probably have some idea of what you’re about to read below. You could feasibly even predict a specific thing or two I might have to say about the flick based solely on having seen its trailer.

Likewise, I’ve seen a movie before, so it’s feasible that I might be able to predict a thing or two about a film as I’m watching it unfold, even if it’s only that there will be credits at the end.

What seems significantly less feasible is that everything about a movie long before anything really happens, like knowing the ultimate fate of every single chess piece as its being set down on the board.

HE! IS! HERCULES!

HE! IS! HERCULES!

As Hercules reached its final act it didn’t even feel like predicting anymore, it felt like, unbeknownst to myself, I had some terrible power deep in my sadomasochist subconscious that was just barely skimming the surface of imagination before flinging its findings onto the screen. Like the plot was less a formal narrative and more just a universal truth I’d be entirely aware of all along but had neglected to think about prior the showing of the movie. And like some other similes too.

Hercules lumbers by like a parade. There’s always some bombastic float in front of you, dragged forward by performers trying their best to breathe life into a bloated balloon animal, but it’s impossible not to notice the rest of the floats down the street. And noticing the floats to come doesn’t stop them from being dragged before you to stare at long after you’ve gotten the gist.

It isn’t a terrible movie. It’s something worse.

Hercules is boring.

Classic Scorpion King.

Classic Scorpion King.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (subject of The 2013 Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Initiative and recipient of the coveted Pony Tricks Bump) is Hercules. Literally. I mean it in the best way possible when I say Johnson does very little acting. He embodies the legend. Even an awkward wig can’t distract from how massive and imposing The Rock is. He sports the kind of physique that makes Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine look like some weirdo blogger with a comic book podcast. If the writers of Hercules had put as much effort into their script as The Rock put into his workouts this would be an entirely different discussion.

Ian McShane sporadically wonders into frame blabbering nonsense like Bill Murray at a bachelor party, likely the film’s most enjoyable aspect, and some other guys and one scantly-armored woman also try their best to hold the film’s script up to no avail. It’s telling that no one in this movie gives a bad performance and yet it still manages to be bland.

Hercules is the kind of movie in which massive revelations are so unbearably obvious that unveiling them feels redundant.

Somewhere deep inside the script is a hint of an idea, likely residue from the graphic novel the film is loosely adapted from, Hercules: The Thracian Wars.

How are legends made?

But whatever discourse that question could have yielded it buried deeper than the squid in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen.

I didn’t have it out for Hercules. I went in expecting a big, dumb action movie. I didn’t have high expectations, but I did expected to be entertained. You know, like by entertainment?

Would that I’d known the movie I was sitting down for was a parade all along. Don’t get me wrong, it was impressive watching Dwayne Johnson single-handedly drag around more than an hour and a half worth of floats while Ian McShane randomly shouted nonsense into a bullhorn, but at the end of the day I really, really hate parades.

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