HERCULES (Brett Ratner). 98 minutes. Opens Friday (July 25). See listings. Rating: NN
Hercules demonstrates that there is no genre Brett Ratner cannot reduce to mediocrity.
He's the guy who made the Rush Hour trilogy and The Last Stand, an X-Men movie so disappointing that this year's Days Of Future Past takes special pleasure in erasing it from the franchise's continuity.
This time around, the director unleashes his gift on the sword-and-sandals picture, spinning the late Steve Moore's comics - set in a "real" world without gods or monsters, in which Hercules was simply a powerful warrior who let his legend precede him into battle - into a grey and mundane action movie.
Axes are swung, arrows are launched and helmets are smashed, and Ian McShane and Rufus Sewell get all the good lines because Dwayne Johnson's Hercules isn't allowed to crack a single joke.
John Hurt, Peter Mullan, Joseph Fiennes, Aksel Hennie and Cold Prey's Ingrid Bolsø Berdal are around, too, though none of them makes an especially vivid impression.
It's sluggish and bland, the 3D adds very little, and the only battle sequence that stands out is when Hercules and the Thracian army battle a few hundred bald, bearded, body-painted maniacs.
It's basically Ratner's audition for the World War Z sequel. Hope he doesn't get it.