Movie Review: “The Legend of Hercules”

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It’s “Clash of the Titans,” pretty much without Titans, a “Gladiator” with nobody to root for and a “Samson” without a proper “Delilah.” At times, with its stiff, charisma-impaired cast, its digital sets and slo-mo slaughter, “The Legend of Hercules” has a whiff of the Augean Stables about it — if you catch my drift.

The rest of the time, this star vehicle for “Twilight” lesser light Kellan Lutz rises to adequate — an ancient Greece action pic that benefits by coming out before “Pompei,” before “300: Rise of an Empire” and long before Brett Ratner’s summer spectacle titled, um, “Hercules.” A parade of carnage without blood, romance without heat, stilted dialogue and male cleavage, at its best it is still vexing as all get out even to those with a high tolerance for the Cinema of the Gods.

Not to say that it contorts Greek mythology beyond recognition. It doesn’t. This Renny “Driven” Harlin picture is about Hercules before he knew he was Hercules. His mother Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) so hates her war-mad husband that she prays for a means of bringing him down. Hera, wife to Zeus, promises her a baby conceived by her husband. And that lad, called Alcides, doesn’t know that the cruel King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) isn’t his real dad.

Dad had his suspicions, and lavishes his attention on the inferior first-born son Iphicles (Liam Garrigan). While Alcides (Lutz) falls for the bland but pretty Princess Hebe (Gaia Weiss). That’s the princess the king wants Iphicles to marry.

Hercules gets banished for trying to run off with the princess, and as she is to marry “three moons (months) hence,” he’d better get cracking, gladiating his way from Egypt to Sicily to the MMA Greek Octagon finals so he can win back the lady and avenge himself on those wayward relatives.

Armies besiege digital fortresses, digital triremes plow through the Mediterranean and slo-motion sword fights, with stabbings, impalings, and virtually no blood fill the screen.

And in between the fights, an utterly generic cast utters the blandest lines ever written as they court, conspire, fight and fume.

Lutz is built like a guy who would never get voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and bellows his lines in manly fashion. But he makes little impression. As do his foes. Weiss doesn’t inspire Helen of Troy comparisons, and the villains aren’t any threat to the guy with all the muscles.

There’s precious little sorcery to the “sword and sorcery” genre elements, and the story beats simply hit (and miss) the movies this borrows from that I mentioned at the opening of this review.

This “Legend” isn’t legendary and the look is kind of cut-rate green screen sets “300.” But the 3D is put to good use in many battles — all manner of stuff hurled at the screen, often in slow motion.  “Legend of Hercules” makes you appreciate the real sets, real locations of “Troy,” the real movie stars cast in it and the more convincing digital warships that sweep across Homer’s “Wine Dark Sea” in search of myth and mayhem lo those several thousand years -and several Greek myth movies — ago.

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MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense combat action and violence, and for some sensuality

Cast: Kellan Lutz, Roxanne McKee, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins, Liam McIntyre, Liam Garrigan

Credits: Directed by Renny Harlin, written by Sean Hood, Daniel Giat, Giulio Steve and Renny Harlin. A Summit release.

Running time: 1:36

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5 Responses to Movie Review: “The Legend of Hercules”

  1. keith7198 says:

    Your rating doesn’t surprise me. This looked like a typical January clunker.

  2. tomascini says:

    Leave it to the folks in Hollywood to distort mythology.

    • Well, the mythology is kind of straight adaptation. This is the way the myth goes, more or less. Just a different part of his story is being told. Bad actors, pedestrian effects and dull direction are the issues.

      • tomascini says:

        There used to be a time when Hollywood Directors invested more in letting a story breath, but not anymore. Now its all spectacle & CGI.

        Also, you say the story was straightforward would assume then that it wasn’t myth entirely. I never read anywhere about Hercules going to war in Egypt.

  3. carlosdev says:

    I wonder why it is that Hercules movies are so uniformly bad? I really don’t have very high hopes for the Dwayne Johnson version scheduled for this summer and this turkey makes Schwarzenegger’s “Hercules in New York” look good. Heck, even Disney’s “Hercules” was one of their weaker animated movies. The curse of Steve Reeves perhaps?

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