Invites for footage preview presentations are usually go ignored because when I watch a film I like to watch the entire film, not 5 minutes out of context. However I recanted on this when one popped in my inbox that not only promised footage clips and food (it didn't promise food but it was in the morning so I put two and two together), but an appearance from The Rock himself. And Brett Ratner.
After shamelessly consuming more than a few mini pain au chocolats, I took my seat and was greeted with a wall of cameras, journos and people running around checking their watches. Approximately 20 minutes after the screening was billed Edith Bowman came out and introduced the man responsible for X-Men: The Last Stand. Looking just as you'd expect (Why do rich men always settle for ill-fitting suits?), he wittered on for a bit about his modern take on Hercules; how it's "a family film", it's a role Dwayne Johnson was born to play, it's his dream movie and how he hasn't finished it yet because he's editing three different versions.
Eventually we got to the first set of clips that showed Herc in various scenes of battle that did a good job of showing just how gigantic Johnson has made himself. It's almost obscene. The clips were not in 3D and looked all the better for it; the ones in 3D made an already cartoony film even more cartoonish. Still, the signs are good. Johnson does have the charisma to carry a film like this and the main character has a typical gang of pals who each fulfil a role: funny one, short one, bearded one, woman. The main clip was a large scale battle sequence that featured flipping horses, Katniss Everdeen in a leather mini skirt and Ian McShane being, well, Ian McShane. People erupted into applause and for once it wasn't just because the director was there, it was because it was really good fun. Let's hope the completed film plays to that very clear strength.
Back in Leicester Square, Ratner returned for more rambling. Upon introducing Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, the aforementioned Katniss in leather, he randomly started shouting "We love female empowerment!", obviously forgetting that she spends the majority of her time in next to nothing and barely says a word. Speaking of, Irina Shayk was quite literally sitting pretty, waiting for someone to notice something other than her long legs and her struggle to keep her short skirt down. Finally Edith asked the Russian supermodel a question and she gave an answer so brilliant I wish it was just her and McShane up there.
"I honestly think I was hired to be naked." No chatter about her "craft", no wittering about aspiring to be the next Meryl Streep, just pure unadulterated honestly that backed up almost every clip we saw on her in a thong and not much else. How delightful. Truthfully for a Q&A there was an awful lot of A with almost no Q. Ratner is clearly an excitable guy who loves making movies but we barely heard anything from anyone else and his answers veered wildly. Still, we did get to see John Hurt prance around talking about fabulous sandals for a few minutes. That - and the pastries - was well worth the trip.
Hercules is released in the UK on July 25th