REVIEW: Hercules by The Rock

Hercules 2014 Poster starring Dwayne Johnson from
Hercules 2014 Poster starring Dwayne Johnson from

TL;DR: I enjoyed it, but if you were expecting magic and the like you will be severely disappointed. Also the action is fast and awesome. To quote Fuyu, they were wicked.

Longer review below.

Let me announce my biasness first: I like the Rock. I like watching Dwayne Johnson, because I think he’s a pretty good actor and there’s always more to his movies than meet the eye. I am also quite attached to the Greek myths, in particular the Amazons.

With that out of the way, here’s the summary: Hercules is actually a mercenary who leads a mercenary band of six. Of them, there is Atalanta, an Amazon from Scythia, the last of her family. Tydeus, a silent man who’s more animal than human. Autocylus, who has known Hercules since they were children. Iolaus, the bard, who is quite the braggart, and Amphiaraus, a seer who knows the time of his death (and is cruelly cock-blocked from it).

They’re hired, and paid their weight in gold (or, apparently, Hercules’ weight, at least) to stop the warlord Rhesus from ravaging the Thracian lands. Seeing the suffering of the people, Hercules agrees to the job, training the Lord Cotys’ army into a semi-decent fighting force. They then defeat Rhesus, and it’s only after they return to the city that Hercules realises all is not as it seems.

And what happens next is something you should watch. It’s quite interesting, actually, to see what they did with the myth of Hercules.

The story of Hercules is basically an unravelling of the magical elements of his legend. It’s a very refreshing take, and a lot more brutal in its depiction than you would expect. Things that made me squee: how Atalanta fought with her bow in CLOSE RANGE, the harvesting Chariot of Doom, and man, that is how you do a proper Roman Shield formation.

There were a few moments when I went “Huh, that doesn’t quite make sense,” but it wasn’t enough to detract me from the movie. I am slightly annoyed that they went with the Hercules pronunciation instead of Heracles, the Greek version.

As you can tell, I would recommend this movie. Imax or not is up to you. I got discount tickets so I watched it in IMAX, but the best IMAX part was during the credits, when they did a “how did he do that” sequence of events.

Additional notes:
I couldn’t help but compare this to Immortals, because in terms of what they were planning to do and how they accomplished it, I think Hercules was much better than the Immortals, if only because the story progression felt natural. The Immortals had more leaps of logic than a Script Frenzy writer does on the last day. Cinematography and action scenes were also very well done.

I would actually put Conan: The Barbarian (2011 version, which I adored, by the way) and Hercules in the same league. They are both movies which take what you know about the original myths and ideas and present them in a visually rich, stunning and yet brutal way. Conan I like because in terms of RPG, the character classes could be identified, and for once, the females were quite resourceful (Rose McGowan is seriously underrated in that movie). Hercules, well, see above.

If you’re watching in Malaysia, even in TGV’s IMAX, there are SOME censored scenes, so your mileage may vary. They don’t really detract from the plot, though there WAS one very messy edit in the version I watched.

Second litmus test: Would I watch it again? Hmm… this is kind of hard to answer. I don’t think so. Maybe if it appears on a small screen, yes, I would. But I think once is enough for me. I do enjoy, and it is a nice distraction but I don’t think it’ll be worth watching the second time on the big screen for me. But to keep though? Yes, I think it is.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are some myths that I need to get reacquainted with.

PS: Thank you, Fuyu, for watching this movie with me!