Fan generated poster by Camw1n.
If any hero has been over-represented on film it would have to be Hercules. Few films have ever bothered to retain all of the correct details of the legendary hero’s acts or of his sordid history. Come July the latest entry in the portrayal of the demigod arrives starring Dwayne Johnson, formerly known as The Rock. Johnson has declared that this is “the role I was destined to play” (paraphrased). And, to my surprise, this teaser trailer shows that he may indeed be right.
My favorite Hercules out of the legion of musclebound “actors” to play the role (Reg Park, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Kevin Sorbot and Disney’s dreadful animated imagining among them) would have to be Steve Reeves. That Reeves was one of the most beautiful bodybuilders ever was fine casting for his limited emotive abilities in the cheap Italian productions he was the star of during the Sixties such as “Hercules Unchained”. But, for these times, Reeves would be entirely too pretty and too small for the role. In classical depictions of Hercules he doesn’t look as beautiful as Reeves was. The hero was bulky and brawny and definitely more attractive for his amazing strength than his facial features. Johnson does fit the role to a T and he certainly has the physical prowess to project that the demigod is, in fact, all man and all muscle. I’m not expecting terrific acting from Johnson. All I’d like from this beef-fest is that he makes me believe he is Hercules for at least 90 minutes or so.
If the dozen “Labors of Hercules” all come off looking as good as the Erymanthian Boar does in this clip I will be singing my praises. However, my expectations are that somewhere, just as in every former film and TV adaptation featuring this character, the makers will fuck-up royally. In some cases as in “The Legends of Hercules” syndicated television series the character was reduced to little more than a joke. It would be nice to see the legend treated with a modicum of respect and dignity for a change.
This is the chance for Johnson to become a real star the way the “Conan” movies transformed Arnold Schwarzenegger from an Austrian muscular oddity, which was how Hollywood saw him back then, to a fixture of action films and comedies. Granted Johnson has far more performances under his belt than Arnold did back then. Still, I for one, hope he can pull it off.