Movies #70-73: Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, The Mirror Crack’d, Evil Under the Sun, all adaptations of Agatha Christie novels. Orient Express is the most stylish—we’ve always wanted to take the Orient Express—but we found Albert Finney’s Hercule Poirot overdone. We prefer Peter Ustinov, who starred in Nile and Evil. The Mirror Crack’d is memorable for the insults traded by Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak, and if you like Diana Rigg in Game of Thrones, you have to see her as the scheming actress in Evil Under the Sun.
Lady Olenna Tyrell—in the halter dress—vs the Dowager Countess of Grantham!
We enjoyed our Agatha Christie film festival so much, we’ve been watching the TV series Agatha Christie’s Marple. Ricky calls it The Love Boat of murder mysteries because each episode features a raft of guest stars familiar from British TV including Timothy Dalton, Matthew Macfadyen, and the ubiquitous Benedict Cumberbatch.
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On one hand, Hercules: The Thracian Wars is by Brett Ratner, a director so terrible that Wolverine had to travel back in time to repair the damage he did to the X-Men series. On the other hand, it stars The Rock Dwayne Johnson, whose character in The Scorpion King we named our cat Mat after (Although we changed it from ‘Mathayus’ to ‘Matthias’ because we can spell).
So we watched Hercules because we love The Rock and think he’s (intentionally) funny and the reviews we saw were decent. Afterwards we decided that Dwayne needs to fire his agent because he hasn’t gotten the right projects, and the reviewers need to get detoxed.
The concept is intriguing: the deconstruction of a myth. This Hercules is not a demi-god but a mortal, a warrior accused of a horrific crime and reduced to working as a mercenary. He is accompanied by a merry band including Rufus Sewell, Ian McShane, and Aksel Hennie (star of the excellent Norwegian art crime movie Headhunters with Nikolaj Coster Waldau). The stories of his exploits are made up by his nephew, apparently the inventor of PR.
So the premise is overflowing with comic possibilities, all of which the inept director ignores because he thinks he is making a serious movie. In the classics of camp the actors are hilarious because they think they are making a serious film. With Hercules, the actors know the movie is stupid, but the director has no idea. Poor Dwayne can’t even lift an eyebrow in jest because his character has been through a horrible tragedy.
The battle scenes are lazy and generic, the script is putrid, and the movie is a total waste of The Rock.
With all the money, technology, and stars going for it, Hercules: The Thracian Wars is not as entertaining as the cheesy old sword-and-sandal epic from the 50s.
Bad as Dwayne’s agent is, Joseph Fiennes’s and Peter Mullan’s are worse. (Never mind that John Hurt is in this, he’s appeared in some terrific stuff this year.) You make The Magdalene Sisters, and then you’re cast as the secondary villain in this? Fire your agent.
We fear that for lack of choice, this is Dwayne Johnson’s best performance in film so far.
Alan Moore calls for boycott of wretched film Hercules