This mythic muddle is a major misfire

In last month’s review of The Legend of Hercules, I said wait for this one; it can’t be worse. That was before I saw it. Okay, it’s marginally better, but this mythic muddle is a major misfire.

First off, all those cool stunts in the trailer are cheats, and happen during the opening credits. Second, its intriguing revisionist premise—that Hercules is not a demigod at all but a common mercenary who trades on and feeds the mythology as a way to get work for his band of head-busters—is totally squandered in favor of unremarkable CG battle sequences and jarring pop culture jokes aimed at 12-year-old boys. Well, it’s Brett Ratner, isn’t it?

Dwayne Johnson is of course the perfect Hercules. He’s without peer when it comes to wearing lions’s heads, tossing around horses, screaming battle cries and bludgeoning baddies with a tree-trunk-sized club. The man’s a Rock. But when the story requires him to reflect on tormenting memories of his slain wife and family, things screech to a halt.

Mostly wasted cast includes Ian McShane, Peter Mullan, Rebecca Ferguson and Rufus Sewell. (98 min)