This friday saw the release of Brett Ratner’s Hercules, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Rather than review the film on traditional merits, Deadshirters Haley Winters and Max Robinson decided to evaluate it on its most important metric: hunkiness. Spoilers below.
Max: Wow, this was a VERY hunk-centric movie. Hunks…and #personal #brands. This was basically an entire movie of The Rock doing The Rock things and I loved it.
Haley: It’s worth mentioning that The Rock has become so physically large that his body now consists of an amalgamation of smaller hunks. His hunk thighs have gained their own sentience.
Max: Hercules: The Movie opens with us watching Hercules a demi-god babby grow into a super muscular The Rock toddler who is still possibly being breastfed by his mother. In adherence to classic greek myth, baby Rockules snaps some snakes’ necks (More on this later).
Haley: The Rock baby was also five feet tall.
Max: When we arrive in present day, we discover that this sequence is in fact a FABRICATION being told by a scrawny nerd. He is Hercules’ nephew and he’s tied up by pirates who, in classic college movie fashion, are about to impale his junk.
Haley: Thus we are introduced to the overarching theme of Hercules: there is no magic and there are no gods and every man dies alone and all of Greek mythology is LIES and #BRANDING.
Max: So here we meet Hercules’ running crew of hunks, introduced in one single incomprehensible scene. They are:
- Hercules (The Rock): Team leader and star of the show. He has a cool hat-cape made out of a lion and a dead family.
- Sarcastic Hercules (Rufus Sewell): He is not nearly as buff as Hercules but he likes making sarcasm and throwing little knives. He’s like the Han Solo of this crew.
- Girl Hercules (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal): An Amazonian with boob armor perfectly molded to each breast. She shoots arrows.
Haley: Girl Hercules looks vaguely like Nicole Kidman on steroids, and she is apparently impervious to abdominal wounds because at no point do we not see her belly button. I won’t berate her for wearing a teeny tiny leather miniskirt though because the Rock wore the exact same one. Proceed roll call.
- Dog Hercules (Aksel Hennie): Dog Hercules doesn’t speak and is sort of a hyper-feral berserker. He kind of looks like Ben Foster.
- Nerd Hercules (Reece Ritchie): NOT A HUNK. [Haley: although quite pretty.] He is Hercules’ nephew and hypeman. He wants to be a warrior but Hercules won’t let him because he’s a little dweeb. This ends up basically being his whole character arc, trying to ascend to the hunkhood of his comrades.
- Swearengen (Ian McShane): An old wizened hunk, he has the gift of prophecy. He spends the entire movie praying for death.
Haley: Turns out the story of Hercules is actually not the story of a single hero at all, but a story of friendship and teamwork. It’s a little like Ocean’s Eleven where every member is the muscle. These mercenaries work for cold hard gold, and when Princess Ergenia (a name I didn’t learn until I checked the IMDB) offers them a lot of it to save her country, Team Hunkules jumps to the challenge.
Max: In a sort of unnecessary twist on the Greek myth, Hercules is a man running from his past. He was once the celebrated hero of Athens, but he got blackout drunk and MAYBE killed his wife and kids? (Spoiler: he didn’t). This movie makes Hercules The Brand the key to Hercules The Man: his many famous labors were all seemingly exaggerations, and he had the aid of his superhunk pals. But while his celebrity makes him a respected warrior, it’s hollow. Heavy Hangs The Head That Bears The Hunk Crown.
Haley: Because for all his fame and fortune and women and children obsessing over him (for a guy who maybe killed his kids, the children of the movie sure do love Herc), all our hero really wants is to retire in peace and spend the rest of his years alone on a beach contemplating his dead wife’s butt (which we get a generous view of in some of the least creative flashbacks in Hollywood memory).
Max: We see Hercules’ wife’s butt like an HOUR before we learn her name because Brett Ratner directed this movie. We’re also introduced to King Eurystheus (Joseph Fiennes) in this same flashback. We are clued in to the fact that he is a Villain because 1) duh, it’s Joseph Fiennes 2) he’s super effeminate and decidedly Not A Hunk and 3) he keeps caged peacocks, which is a total James Bond Villain gimmick and also Kind Of Gay.
Haley: Joseph Fiennes basically plays Stanley-Tucci-as-Caesar-Flickerman-in-Hunger-Games. With the hair of Cersei Lannister.
Max: BACK TO PRESENT DAY: Team H.E.R.C. has been hired to train and lead an army for Ergenia and her father, Lord Cotys (Celebrated Character Actor John Hurt) against a centaur sorcerer named Rhesus. (We later find out that Rhesus is neither a sorcerer nor a centaur because this movie wants to SHAME YOU for wanting fantasy in your Hercules movie.) Hercules, after a bloody loss-filled battle against some Grecian crustpunk Khal Drogo-looking fuckers, is able to mold them into a platoon of mini-Hercs, complete with shields bearing his personal standard of a Dope-Ass Lion.
Haley: We get a LOT of footage of Herc training his army. Probably a good third of the movie, actually, which was fine with me because I love training montages. Hercules’ military strategy consists of 1. SHIELD WALLS and 2. YELLING ABOUT SHIELD WALLS. Who needs a demi-god hero when you’ve got a WHOLE WALL of HERCULES BRANDED SHIELDS.
Max: It’s weird thinking about how little actually happens in this movie until the third act. It’s mostly The Rock lucid dreaming about Cerberus murdering his family.
Haley: Cerberus? You mean the three-headed guardian dog of the underworld? FALSE because HE DOESN’T EXIST THERE IS NO UNDERWORLD AND THERE ARE NO GODS, IT’S JUST THREE BIG FREAKING DOGS HERCULES YOU SCHMUCK.
Max: The dramatic reveal that Cerberus was, in fact, just three big dogs is made even better by the fact that Hercules is like “WAIT IT WASN’T CERBERUS, IT WAS THREE BIG DOGS!” I like when movies that aren’t really going for historical accuracy try and enforce stuff like this. It’s like we’re watching Brett Ratner’s 7th grade English project.
Haley: But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Hercules must first battle Rhesus. And even though it turns out Rhesus is just a guy on a horse, he still makes magic happen when he takes off his helmet Lucy-Liu-style to shake out a head of stunning blonde Hunk locks.
Max: In the little actual screentime he gets, Rhesus is poised as something of an Anti-Hercules, and the dramatic helmet removal is weird because you expect this to be like a Known Actor, but nope it’s just Some Dude. He’s built up over the course of the movie as a sinister Thulsa Doom type, but is literally unhorsed when Hercules LITERALLY PICKS HIM UP BY THE HORSE AND THROWS HIM. (This gives us the movie’s requisite PG-13 F-bomb in Hercules’ line “FUCKING CENTAURS.”) For a movie that is weirdly insistent on realism, The Rock does things that are flat out impossible. Such is the magic of The People’s Eyebrow, I suppose.
Haley: I mean the closest thing we have to magic powers–in this movie or in the real world–are the Rock’s biceps. So whether he’s picking up a horse, ripping bolted chains from the ground, or toppling a fifty-foot stone statue onto several hundred soldiers he personally trained only thirty minutes ago, I’m ready to believe it.
Max: Well there’s also Swearengen’s psychic future-telling powers which, admittedly, end up being pretty inconsistent. He really wants to die and, presumably, stop being in the movie Hercules, but The Rock won’t let him because The Rock’s Will Is Law.
Haley: By “wants to die” we literally mean “holds his hands out and looks to the heavens as flaming arrows rain down on him–not once in this movie but TWICE.”
Max: We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Hercules’ super weird non-romance with Princess Ergenia and her son, in which he’s basically Mom’s Cool Boyfriend Who Gives Him A Lion’s Tooth, but which never really goes anywhere.
Haley: There is literally no resolution to this storyline.
Max: So then we get to the movie’s Dramatic Third Act Twist, which is that John Hurt and his sidekick, a mean general who uses a Cool As Hell whip made out of a human spine, are actually The Bad Guys, and they tricked Herc and his Mercs into doing all their dirty work in a bid to consolidate power over all of Thrace. Oh, and Joseph Fiennes was in on this I guess, it’s a whole big thing.
Haley: Serious, can we get a pic going of Joseph Fiennes’ hair curls in this movie?
Max: Behold, the villains of our movie, as evidenced in this low resolution Twitter photo:
Max: The two main villains of Hercules are Shitty Nerds who need big buff dudes to do all their heavy lifting. They both seem like they’re having a pretty good time making this movie, and they die in wonderfully hilarious ways. Watching the guy from Alien call The Rock a “dirty bastard” then get crushed by a giant stone head was really funny.
Haley: There were a lot of great lines like that throughout the movie, too. Lots of cursing, mostly at the “fucking centaurs,” but once in a while you’d get an awesome outburst like The Rock screaming “IIIII AAAMMMM HERCULESSSSS,” which is also how I imagine the Rock prepared himself in his trailer every morning before filming. Method acting for sure.
Max: Apparently he prepped for that scene by REPEATEDLY FLEXING AGAINST CHAINS SO HARD HE PASSED OUT.
Max: Real talk: I kinda love that this entire movie is centered around The Rock’s stubborn refusal to accept how great and good he is until the climax, where he heroically saves the day by buying into his own hype. “hi haters I AM HERCULES BECAUSE I’M DOPE AND I DO DOPE SHIT.” I believe you pointed out after the movie that The Rock’s Hercules is like unquestionably the moral center of this entire movie and that it’s never, like…questioned at all? I love that.
Haley: Once in a while it’s nice to have a hero whose inherent goodness you never need to question. Credit to The Rock for being the kind of guy you trust completely no matter how many people accuse him of murdering children.
Max: The Rock is America’s Sweetheart and pretty much the entire reason this movie works. No one else is buff enough or charming enough to make you buy into this, short of like peak era 80s/90s Schwarzenegger.
Haley: I hope this movie finds box-office success so we can have many more Hercules hunkling sequels.
Max: Yeah, you could reasonably make one of these every couple years. Have Hercules and co. fight a Medusa who is actually a Mean Babe and not a snake woman. A cyclops that’s just like John C. Reilly in a diaper.
Haley: A minotaur that’s actually just a cow in a field.
Max: Overall, I’d say this movie ranks VERY HIGHLY on the Deadshirt Hunk-O-Meter. We watch The Rock’s softball-size muscles bulge a lot against his leather armor and he kills or hurts lots of people in very fun ways. 4 greased up hunks out of 5.
Haley: I give it four large hunks and one very small hunk with a ridiculous snake-sized vein bulging from it.