Editor’s Notes: The Legend of Hercules is now open in wide release.
It isn’t new for a year to contain two different films with similar subjects. Dante’s Peak has Volcano, Armageddon its Deep Impact and even last year saw a the White House falling prey to attacks twice in both Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. 2014 appears to be the year of the mythical Hercules. Like a cocky commenter from the mid 2000s, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be the first out of the gate although it most definitely does not mean that you’re the best. Later this year we will get our chance to see Dwayne Johnson as the titular demigod, but for now we are served up some mythology by Twilight alum Kellan Lutz. Based on the steaming pile that is The Legend of Hercules, it’s not like the Rock’s version can be any worse…please, don’t let it be any worse.
The Legend of Hercules is a bad film, a film that represents the very bottom of studio idiocy and spurs hopes of laziness to explain its below the basement level of quality.
King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) is a ruthless leader that fills his time with the conquering of lands. His marriage with Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee), the mother of his already born heir, is loveless and filled with spite. In a bout of desperation she goes to the god Hera who offers Alcmene the opportunity to lay with Zeus and birth a son that will not share lineage with Amphitryon. After twenty years, the two princes, dark and deceitful Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) and the heroic Hercules (Kellan Lutz), represent complete opposites. Never having loved his stepson, Amphitryon sends Hercules into battle and potential death, in hopes of never seeing the bastard again. However, Hercules will not go easily, and makes it his goal to fight and find his way back to his native land to reclaim the hand of his stolen love Hebe (Gaia Weiss).
The character of Hercules has had quite the tough go of it. There truly is no cinematic outing of real note for the demigod, his past is filled with B-movies at best and bodybuilders turned “actors” (I’m talking about some dubbed early Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferigno). The best the character has been treated is as a milquetoast television character and a Disney animated feature, and even that is a lesser of its ilk. Perhaps it is fitting that The Legend of Hercules continues this tradition of drudgery. The Legend of Hercules is a bad film, a film that represents the very bottom of studio idiocy and spurs hopes of laziness to explain its below the basement level of quality.
The acting throughout the film is no better than a mediocre high school production. Feigned British accents wrestle with a script that isn’t sure whether it wants to communicate in affected classical speak or with more modern ease. The wooden actors clunkily deliver each phrase in manners so confusing as to lead the viewer to question whether they even understand the words that are coming from their mouths. Nevertheless, this is a film about Hercules, a figure of the people, with compassion as great as his strength. It requires an actor that cannot only look the part but possesses the personality that is capable of carrying an entire sword-and-sandals epic on his back. Kellan Lutz is not that man. Lutz is little more than the muscles that I’m sure he worked very hard to build. He will assuredly make many the audience member swoon; however he is better off remaining silent, allowing his abs and pecs to do the delivery, because this black hole of personality is unable to adequately deliver even the slightest bit of exposition and distracts in his lack of talent.
Like many a current sword-and-sandal epic it goes to the well of 300 for its aesthetic. The battles are overly saturated and littered with Zack Snyder-esque slow motion and leaps of ridiculous proportion.
Like many a current sword-and-sandal epic it goes to the well of 300 for its aesthetic. The battles are overly saturated and littered with Zack Snyder-esque slow motion and leaps of ridiculous proportion. When it isn’t aping the style of better films, it is sloppily shot with 3D that is often laughable. The unhuman and perpetually emotionless actors look even more artificial on poorly constructed distant backdrops, appearing as cardboard cutouts in front of a discount landscape. For a film with so many swords and an ever increasing body count, it is absent of any real carnage. In an apparent attempt to lure in a younger audience, director Renny Harlin makes the decision that blood or any deaths outside of a poke in the chest has no place in this film. It’s a decision that snatches the carpet of excitement right from under the film’s feet. The Legend of Hercules is a horridly shot, superficial swamp of imitated style, that can’t even muster up the energy or conviction to string together an entertaining battle sequence.
The story’s connection to the actual legend of Hercules is tangential, and that may be overly generous. Yes, the lead character shares his name with the man of myth and his half god geneology, but that is where the connections stop. Instead of exploring the famous twelve labors, although the Nemean Lion makes a brief appearance that happily uses the original tale as toilet paper, or any of the many other developed takes on the hero, the four writers throw it all away, because assuredly they know better. Rather than a story of rich mythology, we are offered a juvenile romance that is far from developed or believable enough to carry an entire film. None of the dynamics within the film are anywhere near being fully realized and even the strength of Hercules himself is not enough to lift this film from the ruins. The Legend of Hercules is not only a failure as a take on Hercules, but a complete failure as a film. From the acting to the visuals, the film is hard to watch and its many elements are as bloodless as its mediocre battle scenes. But don’t worry; all of the actors are real pretty.
[notification type=”star”]6/100 ~ UNBEARABLE. The Legend of Hercules is not only a failure as a take on Hercules, but a complete failure as a film. From the acting to the visuals, the film is hard to watch and its many elements are as bloodless as its mediocre battle scenes. But don’t worry; all of the actors are real pretty.[/notification]