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Since many a movie has been made about this hero, today we review the 2014 film Hercules!
Based on the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars, Hercules is an action/fantasy/adventure film directed by Brett Ratner and written by Ryan J. Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Starring Dwayne Johnson (Hercules), Ian McShane (Amphiaraus the Seer), Rufus Sewell (Autolycus the Rogue), and John Hurt (Cotys, King of Thrace), the film was distributed jointly by Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
As 1 of 2 Hollywood-studio Hercules films released in 2014 (the other one being Lionsgate‘s The Legend of Hercules), this version earned $244 million on a $100 million budget and received mixed reviews from critics, who, however, praised the action sequences and Johnson’s acting.
Also in the film are Aksel Hennie (Tydeus the Wild Child/Barbarian), Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Atalanta the Archer), Reece Ritchie (Iolaus the Storyteller), Joseph Fiennes (King Eurystheus), Tobias Santelmann (Rhesus), Peter Mullan (Sitacles), Rebecca Ferguson (Ergenia), Isaac Andrews (Arius), Joe Anderson (Phineas), Steve Peacocke (Stephanos), Irina Shayk (Megara), and Barbara Palvin (Antimache).
To prepare for the role of Hercules, Johnson took on a grueling training routine, stating:
I trained and worked harder than ever for 8 months for this role. Lived alone and locked myself away (like a moody 260-lb. monk) in Budapest for 6 months while filming. Goal was to completely transform into this character. Disappear in the role. Press journalist asked me today, with the mental and physical toll the role had on me, would I do it again? Not only would I do it again…I’d do it twice.
In North America, Hercules was released on 25 July 2014 at 3,595 theaters, and grossed $11 million its opening day and $29 million its opening weekend. Hercules, described as “pumping some much-needed life into a lackluster summer at U.S. and Canadian theaters,” did financially better than expected, as it “topped the expectations of analysts by roughly $4 million”.
Outside North America, the film was released in 26 foreign markets in 3,364 locations and earned $28.7M. Hercules dominated the Russian box office with a strong debut ($12M from 930), along with Australia ($3.5M from 222), Malaysia ($1.6M from 110), Philippines ($1.2M from 134), Taiwan ($1.2M) and Singapore ($1.1M from 27).
Hercules received mixed reviews from critics with the general sentiment being, however, that the film was a pleasant surprise. Ridiculously critical review site Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 60%, based on reviews from 104 critics, with an average rating of 5.4/10.
Scott Foundas, chief film critic for Variety, wrote a positive review stating that the film was grandly staged, solidly entertaining, and cuts the mythical son of Zeus down to human size (or as human as you can get while still being played by Dwayne Johnson). Elizabeth Weitzman of New York Daily News stated Hercules was fun and packed with eye-popping action and impressive effects, but star Dwayne Johnson’s massive powerful physique perfectly suited the title role of the large-scale movie.
The film is about the hero Hercules, leader of a band of mercenaries composed of the these not so merry men: a spear-wielding prophet, a knife-throwing thief, a feral warrior, an Amazon archer, and Hercules own nephew storyteller. Hercules is said to be the demigod son of Zeus, who completed the legendary Twelve Labors, only to be betrayed by Hera who drove him insane and caused him to murder his wife Megara and their children during a visit to King Eurystheus.
Throughout the film, it is not clearly established that Hercules is truly the son of Zeus, and many are skeptical of the claim as well as of the stories of Hercules’ famous Twelve Labors. Despite this, Hercules displays unusual strength and unmatched skill in combat.
After finishing a recent mission and saving his nephew on the Macedonian Coast in Northern Greece in 358 BC, Hercules and his team are celebrating and drinking at a tavern. During the celebration they are approached by Ergenia on behalf of her father Lord Cotys who wants Hercules to train the armies of Thrace to defend the kingdom from bloodthirsty warlord Rhesus.
Hercules accepts after he and his men are offered his own weight in gold, and the band is welcomed to Thrace by King Cotys and General Sitacles, leader of the Thracian army. However, Rhesus has reached the Bessi tribe in Central Thrace and Cotys insists that Hercules lead the army into battle to defend the Bessi, despite their lack of training.
After the Bessi are defeated, Hercules properly trains the army, then Hercules and Sitacles confront Rhesus and his soldiers on the battlefield before Mount Asticus. The Thracians force Rhesus’ army to retreat, but Rhesus himself rides out to confront Hercules and is defeated by him.
Rhesus is taken back to Thrace as a prisoner, where he is tortured and humiliated. Hercules mentions Rhesus’ actions of burning down villages, but Rhesus tells him it was not him or his army and that Hercules has been fighting on the wrong side.
Later in the palace hall, Rhesus has been chained up and left on display. Noticing that Ergenia has taken pity to him, Hercules confronts her and finds out Rhesus was telling the truth in that he was merely retaliating against Lord Cotys’s aggressive attempts to expand his kingdom.
After receiving their reward, the mercenaries are ready to leave. Hercules, though, decides to stay behind to stop Cotys, and all but Autolycus choose to follow him.
However, they are overpowered and captured by Sitacles and his men. While chained, Hercules is confronted by King Eurystheus, who is in league with Lord Cotys.
Eurystheus reveals that he drugged Hercules the night his family died, viewing him as a threat to his power. Hercules’s family was in fact killed by 3 vicious wolves sent by Eurystheus, resulting in Hercules’s constant hallucinations of Cerberus.
When Lord Cotys orders Ergenia to be executed for her betrayal, Hercules is encouraged by Amphiaraus to believe in himself just as everyone believes in him. In a show of superhuman strength, Hercules breaks free of his chains, saving Ergenia and slaying the wolves with his bare hands.
Hercules releases the prisoners, including Rhesus, and then confronts King Eurystheus, impaling him with his own dagger. He is attacked by Sitacles, who is then stabbed by Iolaus.
Outside, Hercules and his forces battle Lord Cotys and his army. Arius is taken hostage, but then rescued by Autolycus, who has decided to return to help his friends.
In the final battle, Tydeus is mortally wounded while protecting Arius, but fights on slaughtering numerous Thracian soldiers. Hercules again uses inhuman strength and pushes a massive statue of Hera from its foundations and uses it to crush Lord Cotys and many of his soldiers.
The remaining soldiers see Hercules as lightning flashes in the background. The surviving soldiers bow to Hercules, and Arius takes the throne, with Ergenia at his side, while Hercules and his men depart in search of other adventures.
As the credits roll, an animated retelling of the Twelve Labors shows how Hercules accomplished these feats with the help of his companions.
As the professionals had previously stated, Hercules is, indeed, a role perfectly suited for Dwayne Johnson. The new take on a familiar character, along with the action and special effects, make for quite the entertaining film.
You don’t have to write articles for a living to recognize a fun, adventurous film when you see it. If you are looking for some fast-paced adventure, with a little history mixed in, then look no farther than Hercules starring Dwayne Johnson.
We hope you enjoyed today’s look into a worthwhile film. Maybe you’ve seen it already and care to reply, or maybe you’ll now want to watch it.
Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!
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