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It's great, then, to see Hercules let shots go for just a second or two longer than most other modern hack-and-slashers would. It is as simple as an actor swinging a sword, the blow connecting, and another actor reacting to the blow all in the same two seconds of clearly visible footage. Normally you'd have one shot of a man snarling and swinging a sword, immediately followed by a half second of an enemy in mid-fall. Often neither combatant is seen in the same frame at once.

Similar attention is paid to the formation of armies in one of the battle scenes. It is still woefully short of ideal, but one can still appreciate Ratner showing the bird's eye view two times instead of, well, none.

The Rock is just about as craggy as you want him. His strength and propensity for bone-crunching are on display, but tempered by the absurdity of a lion headdress and surf instructor haircut. There are times when the juxtaposition seems to bewilder both Johnson and the audience, though. He is an affable man. His talent could have lifted the whole movie, if it hadn't been ordered to be in several places at once.

Dwayne Johnson in 'Hercules'
Kerry Brown / Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

Dwayne Johnson in 'Hercules'

With some things going for it, if Hercules had taken the trouble to stand for something, it might be entertainment worth indulging. If it had picked any one of the classical or Christian virtues and presented a hero aspiring to it, or even just a narrator paying lip service to it in one of the film's many expository voiceovers, that would have hit the necessary Howardian beat. But Hercules learning to "believe in himself," to write his own story and dance to the beat of his own drum, to be the change he wished to see in Thrace? How utterly un-thumotic!

Viewer discretion is advised.

Caveat Spectator

This movie is at the bloodier end of what I've seen in PG-13 movies. Intense battle sequences: chariots with scythed wheels mowing down men, spears and arrows puncturing people, and the obligatory men catching fire. A woman disrobes from behind, exposing round buttocks. A bare breast is sort of visible through wispy clothing. The words "f***ing centaurs" are uttered. Perhaps a stretch for most 13 year olds.

Tim Wainwright's writing has been featured in the Atlantic, CT, and RealClearMarkets. He tweets hereand blogs here.

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