Ben Nicholson Features

Preview: Dwayne Johnson is ‘Hercules’ in first teaser

It would have taken the beauty of Aphrodite herself to get pulses racing at the prospect of Brett Ratner’s take on the Greek demigod, Hercules (2014). Based on Steve Moore’s graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars, the film stars Hollywood’s very own Cretan Bull – Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock – as the girdle-stealing, club-wielding hero of whom we get our first glimpse in a new teaser. As one might expect, the trailer for Hercules is heavy on carnage, suggesting a film that’s unlikely to linger on episodes like cattle-rustling as much as it will on the crunching of bones and clubbing of raging boars. Ratner’s epic is set long after the son of Zeus’ pomp, and whilst he still wears his iconic lion skin, he is now a mercenary riding on the reputation of former glories.

Former torments have left him bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders, but when Amphiaraus of Thrace (Ian McShane) calls for his aid, it would seem that Hercules will climb back onto his horses and show the mythological world what it’s been missing. The trailer’s voiceover features McShane challenging Hercules to restore his former glory, but the action itself is largely restricted to the famous Labours which will presumably appear as flashbacks. Beasties such as the Lernaean Hydra and Hades hound Cerberus are included to give audiences some recognisable, Harryhausen-style creatures to get excited about, while Johnson himself appears to be a stable pair of (enormous) hands for the hulking Greek strongman.

Obviously possessing of the action chops, he really looks the part and is also capable of playing the buffoon – as the character was often portrayed. From the trailer, at least, this seems unlikely though; the atmosphere is heavy with portent and various synopses have hinted at the loss that the Argonaut has suffered. Ideally the film will not take itself to seriously, though. In the hunt for box office success, it would seem far more likely to soar by providing willing audiences with a kick-ass ancient hero they can get behind than by repeating the (repetitive) missteps of Perseus’ recent titanic outings. This first trailer does provide hope that Hercules can be the hero Greece deserves.

Brett Ratner’s seemingly unstoppable Hercules smashes its way into UK cinemas on 25 July 2014.

Ben Nicholson