Herculean effort for little reward

Undated Film Still Handout from Hercules 3D. Pictured: Dwayne Johnson as Hercules and Irina Shayk as Megara. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Paramount Pictures. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

Undated Film Still Handout from Hercules 3D. Pictured: Dwayne Johnson as Hercules and Irina Shayk as Megara. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Paramount Pictures. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

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Classical Greek mythology gets a campy, testosterone-pumped rewrite in Brett Ratner’s swaggering swords ‘n’ sandals romp.

Based on the comic book series ‘Hercules: The Thracian Wars’ by Steve Moore, this laboured re-imaging of the demigod son of Zeus boasts slow-motion action sequences reminiscent of 300, albeit with reduced on-screen bloodshed to secure a 12A certificate. Parents should exercise caution. These ancient civilisations are predisposed to outbursts of bad language that escape the wrath of Olympus, and when the film’s lone female warrior is verbally dissed, she lowers the tone by sniping, “If only your manhood was as long as your tongue”.

The minds of screenwriters Ryan J Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos remain in the gutter when it comes to the two-dimensional women that festoon the screen. They swoon helplessly in Hercules’ presence or encourage his valour with the promise of personal services.

Hercules (Johnson) has completed his 12 labours, which included slaying a hydra and defeating the mighty Nemean Lion, and now this man of myth roams the land as a mercenary for hire.

Directed with destruction-oriented bombast by Ratner (Rush Hour), ‘Hercules’ is undecided whether to take itself seriously or descend into pantomime. The set pieces are orchestrated at full pelt but once the screaming ends, deficiencies in the script are exposed. With the truth about Hercules’ tragic past revealed, Johnson’s wail of anguish epitomises the film’s heavy-handed approach to matters of the heart: more volume, less palpable emotion.