One of the most waited movies on 2014, well at least to me. When I watched the trailer, it was awesome. The movie looked epic in every way. Released on 25th July 2014, the movie was starred by Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Reece Ritchie, Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Joseph Fienes, and John Hurt. However, when I watched the trailer, I didn't know that it was based on the graphic novel of Hercules: The Thracian Wars.
Apparently, the graphic novel was something else. It wasn't about the mythical hero of Hercules, but more of a different fictional character, as in you know, from a comic book. So, in this comic book, Hercules is a mercenary. He have his own group, and to 'smooth' up their trade, they spread the legend of Hercules being a son of Zeus. The idea was to weaken the resolve of anyone whom they might have to encounter by the contract that they had taken.
The mercenaries lead by Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) are, Autolycus of Sparta (Rufus Sewell), Tydeus of Thebes (Aksel Hennie), Iolaus of Athens (Reece Ritchie), Amphiaraus of Argos (Ian McShane), and Atalanta of Scythia (Ingrid Bolso Berdal). They work together while giving all the credit to Hercules in order to enforce his legend. So that his name would be feared so much, that their adversary would simply run rather than facing the mighty Hercules.
With the exception of Iolaus, who was the group's storyteller, the other mercenaries are warriors each armed with their own art of fighting. They accept a job with the promise of gold, while Iolaus took the opportunity to boast and spread Hercules legend, especially about the Twelve Labor, wherever they go. In this film, they were approached by Ergenia of Thrace (Rebecca Ferguson) and enlisted their help to fight against an invading warlord called Rhesus.
Erginia, daughter of Lord Cotys (John Hurt), brought them to see his father, king of Thrace. The king offered them golds in their weight as reward for their service, and told Hercules's group that Rhesus is a wicked, magic-wielding sorcerer that leads army of monsters that are half man and half horse, specifically the Centaurs. Of course Hercules and his companions are a bit skeptical with the detail, because they themselves used the same method of propaganda.
Lord Cotys, eager to bring Rhesus down, assumed that with the presence of Hercules alone would be enough to turn the tide of war, despite Hercules protest claiming that his army is unprepared and untrained. But Lord Cotys's scout had sighted Rhesus's army movement and bounded to raze down a village in the path, adding the urgency to intercept Rhesus, Unfortunately, Lord Cotys lost half of his army on an ambush by Rhesus forces that composed of local people that they believed was 'turned' by Rhesus sorcery.
The movie wasn't a total disappoint despite the character of Hercules was scaled down to a more realistic perspective. In this movie, Hercules was still portrayed as a warrior with an incredible strength. So you can still enjoy watching Hercules rocking the battlefield by throwing the enemies like rag dolls.
And also, the atmosphere of mysticism lingers around as Amphiaraus displayed some capacity of fortune-telling (while sniffing up herbs) along with the effect of Rhesus sorcery on the local villagers (when Thracian army was ambushed). Despite the confusion with a dose of skepticism, Hercules managed to convince Lord Cotys to let him and his group to train his army. He also equipped Thracian army with new weapons and armors.
After training and arming the Thracian army properly, Legionnaire-style if you asked me, the march to face Rhesus forces. At first, they almost convinced that they are facing army composed of Centaurs. But it turns out that the 'Centaurs' are just simply cavalry units, and Rhesus just a horse rider. Lord Cotys's scout also turns out to be on Rhesus's side, which explained the exploits of those exaggerated accounts such as the Centaurs army and monsters.
Fortunately, Hercules and his companions never truly believed the accounts, and their skepticism had allowed the Thracian army to be much more prepared and better trained. The two army collided, and Thracian army emerged victorious despite being outnumbered due to superior weapon, armor and battle strategy.
However, something seemed out of place. Rhesus was apprehended and he was paraded back to Thracian city in shame. But shouldn't Rhesus supposed to be a wicked sorcery with power that can bend a man's will? Hercules was always skeptical with the matter, yet Rhesus looked ordinarily normal. Rhesus accused Hercules of helping Lord Cotys enslaving them all, but Hercules retorted. Rhesus then questioned Hercules, why did he, a mercenary, employed in the first place if Lord Cotys is truly the liberator. Surely the people would be flocking to Lord Cotys's side and joined him in greater number.
This made Hercules to ponder about the whole situation. The village that they were going to save from Rhesus's 'evil influence' earlier, ended up ambushing the Thracian army, while the Thracian's army general himself was a skeptical man, but yet he still persist with the idea of centaurs army and black magic. In a way, it does seem like the Thracian army was actually the invading army, and Rhesus was opposing them.
Hercules confronted Erginia and demanded to know the truth, and that leads to a whole new twist. Turns out, he was helping Cotys to conquer all of Thrace. And what he did was massacring the tribes that opposed Cotys's conquest. Also, he helped trained and armed Cotys's army to be unbeatable by the local tribes, effectively solidifying Cotys's place as a tyrant.
Hercules felt bad, but due to their earlier arrangement, Cotys end up paid Hercules's group with a lot of gold coins for their services. So the final part of this movie was the conflicting emotions and divided opinions from Hercules and his groups. Should they right the wrong, or should they took off with the gold payment like the mercenaries that they are?
The movie was quite entertaining and I enjoyed it very much. Though I might had hoped for something different. I thought that this movie would portray Dwayne Johnson as the new Hercules (he does have the perfect body for that), but it turns out that Hercules in this movie is from an alternate universe, and not based from the popular myth. Too bad I don't.. didn't read the graphic novels. I'm sure its a good read. But... hmm.. They should've used the graphic novels title for the movie. I felt like I was mislead, somehow.