The Starbucks that I sometimes frequent on the way to work has new cardboard cup sleeves. They're snot green and advertise something called the "Steep Your Soul" campaign. Each one sports a unique Oprah quote, such as Be more splendid. Be more extraordinary. Use every moment to fill yourself up and The only courage you really need is the courage to live the life you want.

After seeing the new Hercules, directed by Brett Ratner (the Rush Hour series, Tower Heist) and starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, I can't believe Oprah didn't get a writing credit. "YOU HAVE IT WITHIN YOURSELF TO WRITE YOUR OWN LEGEND!" screams Hercules to his army before a battle. "You just need to believe you're a hero!" urges Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), Hercules' seer pal, a scene or two later as his friend strains his veiny bulges trying to break some chains.

"Don't just stand there, kill someone!" is also a quote in this movie, and it was indeed a temptation after seeing the most lauded exemplar of an ancient civilization reduced to reading his men drafts of self-help books.

See, the conceit of this "truth-behind-the-legend" retelling is that Hercules isn't quite the guy you've heard about. Strong? Yes. Immortal? Ha! All of the crazier stuff is part of a bronze-age social marketing strategy put in place by his bard nephew, Iolaus (Reece Ritchie), in order to get their mercenary band to "go viral" and drive revenue. Their promising business model gets interrupted, though, when a routine consulting gig for the King of Thrace (John Hurt) turns into a PR nightmare of epic proportions.

Hercules, as its flame-wreathed poster art suggested, wants ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Tags:
Browse All Movie Reviews By:
Read These Next
Current IssueWhy the Modern World Is Making Us Miserable
Why the Modern World Is Making Us Miserable Subscriber Access Only
Mark Sayers asks us to look to the Bible’s steadying influence in an era of cultural turmoil.
TrendingThe Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
The Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
How the former FBI director’s interest in Reinhold Niebuhr shaped his approach to political power.
Editor's PickSasse: Adolescence Is a Gift, but Extended Adolescence Is a Trap
Ben Sasse: Adolescence Is a Gift, but Extended Adolescence Is a Trap
The Nebraska senator wants parents to get serious about shepherding kids into responsible adulthood.
Christianity Today
Hercules
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

July 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.