Trailers@24 Panels: HERCULES (2014)

Here at 24 Panels, we like to give each new comic book movie trailer the roundtable treatment. This time, we take a look at the first trailer for Hercules, directed by Brett Ratner (Red Dragon, X-Men: The Last Stand).

DAVE: Well, that looks silly. Not sure if that is a bad thing or not.

Look, I’m not exactly known for my love of Brett Ratner. As a filmmaker, he is without talent and lacks any sense of craft; as a person, he is utterly obnoxious and repugnant. The man is a hack, pure and simple, and the only positive thing I can say about the path of his career is that at least the major studios are no longer wasting time handing over material of value to him to screw up. Just look at his last two films: Tower Heist and Movie 43. Did anyone really think those films were worth making?

So it is no surprise that his take on the myth of Hercules — which is based on a comic I have yet to read titled Hercules: The Thracian Wars — looks bad.  It’s pretty clear from this trailer that Ratner wants to make his version of John Milius’ Conan The Barbarian, from the barbaric dress of Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules, to shots such as Hercules wading through the water, only to be confronted by a monster. Of course, Ratner being Ratner, he has managed to miss that Milius’ over-the-top approach to Conan works because it is offset by the gritty and grimy world Milius grounds the film in. Hercules just looks over-the-top, with Johnson fighting CGI animals and monsters while looking absolutely hilarious in that animal skin he is wearing. Maybe that is what Ratner wants, but I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to be laughing at the final shot of Hercules in this trailer.

Beyond that, the film looks no different than any of the million and one sword-and-sandal would-be fantasy epics of recent years. All the typical elements here: the hero holding aloft their sword prior to leading men into combat,  an actor who is far too good to be in this film narrating the trailer with a standard hero speech about destiny and fate, sweeping shots of the landscape, and slow motion. Heck, even the stylised logo at the end looks like nothing more than a rip off of the font used for the 300 films. If not for the need to see the film for the podcast, I’d probably skip this altogether.

So what did you think Nuno? See anything of value here?

NUNO: Now I don’t want to jinx anything here, but I’m a helluva lot more excited about this flick than I was about I, Frankenstein. Brett Ratner’s name being attached to this film never bothered me. I’m a believer in second chances… or a baker’s dozen chances… point is I believe in a property quicker than I believe in a director.

In terms of the comic property, this trailer is delivering exactly what I imagined would come from Radical Entertainment’s Hercules miniseries by Steve Moore. The comic is visceral in its visuals, it’s grand in its presentation, it’s Hercules as barbarian and not as slick Greek (demi)god. I, for one, am tired of slick Greek (demi)gods — and I love anything that ties into myth, legend and fantasy — but the reality since the 2008 Warner Bros. let-down of a movie 10,000 BC is that I’ve never been the same emotionally. My faith in phenomenal fantasy flicks has been faltering ever since.

So, are my hopes higher than they should be (again)? Damn right they are. I want to believe that this can be akin to the awesome Conan movie I’d rather be getting, but that Hollywood can’t deliver on — and I’m not talking about an Arnold-Conan rehash — I’m talking of a more truthful Robert E. Howard Conan. Many of the clips in this trailer gave me a sense of the latter.

I actually didn’t find the CG beasts badly done. I thought each of the clips of Hercules facing off against these nasties were solid. From the first of the Twelve Labours being to slay the Nemian Lion (from which he gets his barbaric fleece), he also slays the multi-headed Hydra, slays the boar, does a bunch of other stuff, and finally captures the three-headed Cerberus… and the movie still needs to make room for the supporting characters, of which there are five. The movie’s premise is that it happens after the Twelve Labours, so I think this trailer does little to give us what the actual movie will be about. I can get behind that because it means the flick will put more focus on Johnson’s strength of character and charisma, and spend less time on CG monsters.

This better not turn into another I, Frankenstein.

Hercules opens in cinemas July 25.


Dave is the co-host of 24 Panels Per Second.

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