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Dwayne Johnson
Ian McShane
John Hurt
Aksel Hennie
Rufus Sewell
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal
Reece Ritchie
Joseph Fiennes
Peter Mullan
Irina Shayk.
Brett Ratner.
Ryan Condal
Evan Spiliotopoulos.
Running Time
98 minutes

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5 Star Empire Rating

He… IS… Dwayne Johnson!

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Having completed all (but one) of his legendary labours and built up a mythical reputation as a superhuman demi-god, Hercules (Johnson) works as a roving mercenary alongside a motley bunch of merry men (and one woman). But when is hired by Lord Cotys of Thrace (Hurt) to take on an army of deadly marauders, things get problematic.


Based on the graphic novel by Steve Moore, Brett Ratner’s Hercules (boy, we love typing those three words) aims to show us the real Greek hero: the man rather than the demi-god, the truth rather than the legend. Yet this is no grim, gritty, ‘Nolanized’ rethink of the popular ancient myth. Of course it isn’t. This is Brett Ratner’s Hercules. And you know what? It’s way more fun than shovelling divine-cattle dung.

Speaking of which, it begins with, and pivots around, a great in-joke. Any scene featuring an obviously CG monster (hydra, giant boar, burly lion) is revealed as being bullshit. Made-up. As any audience member would expect from watching The Rock take on an obviously CG monster. It’s a neat, expectation-undercutting visual trick that we’re pretty sure is deliberate. Those Twelve Labours? Flagrantly embellished, to increase our hero’s currency as a hired sword (well, club). Meanwhile, until the final act at least (and aside from the occasional wide- or aerial shot), Hercules’ battles are impressively practical: good ol’ fashioned human-on-human rough-housing with only minor digital augmentation. Ratner keeps it real. (Well, mostly.)

Despite loping around in the Steve Reeves-superplus form of Dwayne Johnson, this Hercules ain’t Olympian. He couldn’t achieve nearly as much without his pals, a Mythnificent Seven (minus one), if you will. And they’re a fun crew to hang with, including Rufus Sewell’s knife-throwing Autolycus and his dry asides; Ingrid Bolsø Berdal’s Amazon archeress Atalanta — aka Legolass; and Ian McShane serving up succulent ham on a giant-spear kebab as the amusingly precognitive old-timer Amphiaraus. There is also Aksel Hennie from Headhunters as a mute berserker. He’s not The Rock, but he rocks.

The surprising thing is that Johnson himself is the dourest of this lot, having to suffer throughout those ever-inevitable inner demons. It’s a shame we’re not seeing him do the loud, braggart version of Hercules who was so much fun in Jason And The Argonauts. Still, Ratner’s a savvy enough showman to gift him a few brilliant zingers. Our favourite? “Fucking centaurs.”

Pushing the 12A rating as far as it can, this is brisk, brutal, silly (in a good way) pulp entertainment, whose clunky exposition and continuity errors can be easily forgiven. Harder to swallow is the way it lets its own central conceit down during a blandly OTT and muscle-headed final blast. Still, while it may not be Conan The Barbarian (1982), it’s certainly far superior to Conan The Barbarian (2011).

With Hercules, Brett Ratner and Dwayne Johnson are out to entertain you — no more, no less. And that is just what they do.

Reviewed by Dan Jolin

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Hercules
Empire Star Rating

3 of 12 labours seen in the trailer. What about the other 7?

Nope, you don't get to see them, which was what I expected from the trailer! Yet again another misleading trailer (a bit like Godzilla's). Read my full review on ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TroyPutland at 08:25, 20 August 2014 | Report This Post


I have seen the trailer. It was awesome. I am waiting for that movie ... More

Posted by mepallammuw at 05:50, 12 August 2014 | Report This Post


It may well be my lowered expectations. It may be that I do have a soft spot for this kind of nonsense but for a wet Sunday afternoon that was actually okay. Could have been a lot better though. Big Dwayne seemed strangely subdued throughout and Hurt and Fiennes phoned it in. Sewell and McShane were good fun though. A better-than-feared 2 stars ... More

Posted by Scruffybobby at 17:13, 10 August 2014 | Report This Post


It‘s as though Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings never happened. Brett Ratner has obviously never seen Harryhausen’s Jason and the Argonauts, Jackson’s Oscar winning Rings trilogy or Kevin Sorbo’s old TV show because how else would you explain this dull as ditchwater, by the numbers, useless script, waste of a good cast adaptation of the iconic Greek hero? Wanna see the 12 labours of Hercules? You already have ( 3 of them anyway). They were all in the trailer and th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 17:44, 08 August 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Hercules

"Worst. Poirot. Ever." I lol'd ... More

Posted by UTB at 19:17, 04 August 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Hercules

One other thing some may point out, it's one of the Hercules portrayals closer to myth. Wearing the Nemean lion's skin, having a club, that's how the myth had it. Nothing like Kevin Sorbo's Hercules, although that wasn't bad. ... More

Posted by Imperion at 14:59, 04 August 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Hercules

Can't imagine this film being any good... wouldn't waste my money. ... More

Posted by NotRottenTomatoes at 14:01, 04 August 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Hercules

the action scenes in this movie are awesome and the direction is also perfect. ... More

Posted by emmacook at 08:22, 04 August 2014 | Report This Post

Worst. Poirot. Ever.

Like a live-action 1980's Filmation cartoon, the screenplay lurches between mechanical and full-on laughable. By no means the most poorly received film to bear the name this year, 'Hercules' is nonetheless an unconvincing effort, made more prominent by the scattering of renowned names in its cast list. Although the overt plot-nods to 'Star Wars' and 'Seven Samurai' could be described at best as "borrowing", Hercules saves its most profound cinematic homage to reference 'The Wizard Of Oz';... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 23:18, 30 July 2014 | Report This Post

Yeah solid.

Despite Brett Ratner's best efforts to shot everything with such banality, I was entertained throughout. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 21:46, 28 July 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Hercules

I've seen several reviews online panning it. But one friend told me it's probably a movie I'll like. Have to see it though before I make my judgment. And thanks for your reviews. ... More

Posted by Imperion at 14:48, 28 July 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Hercules

s is the leader of a band of mercenaries. He’s said to be the demigod son of Zeus the king of the Gods, and supposedly completed the legendary Twelve Labours, only to be betrayed by Zeus’s wife Hera, who drove him insane and caused him to murder his wife Megara and their children. Hercules has since rejected Zeus and chosen to live as a mortal. One day, Hercules and his men are approached by Ergenia on behalf of her father, Lord Cotys, who wants Hercules to train the armies of Thrace to defend ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 08:40, 28 July 2014 | Report This Post

RE: Hercules

The second of the Hercules cinematic double bill – the first being Renny Harlin’s The Legend of Hercules with Kellan Lutz as the heroic Greek demigod – was a passion project for Dwayne Johnson since he started his film career and was still referred by many as The Rock. Based on the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars by the late Steve Moore whose association in the film’s promotion has gained some controversy, this adaptation helmed by uber-hack Brett Ratner is the film you expect to see,... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 00:26, 26 July 2014 | Report This Post

A lot better than expected..

Went in thinking it would be crap.. but pleasantly surprised by this fun-filled action packed adventure! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by PlanetNish_dotcom at 12:46, 25 July 2014 | Report This Post

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