Monday, January 13, 2014
Movie Review: 'The Legend of Hercules'
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense combat action and violence, and for some sensuality
Article first published as Movie Review: 'The Legend of Hercules' on Blogcritics.
It seems like there are always movies opening within months of each other featuring the exact same plot, with one always being way better than the other. Last year, we saw two movies centered on terrorists taking over the White House in Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. This year, we’ll have two very different takes on the heroics of Hercules. While we may have to wait until July to see Dwayne Johnson as the titular son of Zeus, for now be warned that Twilight’s Kellan Lutz is the title character in The Legend of Hercules.
In 1200 B.C., King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) has just defeated Argos in the name of Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) for its gold. Alcmene finds her husband’s actions to be rather unruly and seeks out help at the foot of a Zeus statue. She prays to the god to offer her a chance to birth a child that will one day grow to defeat Amphitryon and save the land from tyranny. Soon enough, Alcmene is with child and births a baby boy named Hercules. Amphitryon smells betrayal on his wife and 20 years later sends Hercules (Lutz) to battle in Egypt and die, only to be taken in by Lucius (Kenneth Cranham) as a fighter, Gladiator style. Now, Hercules must return home to defeat his father with Sotiris (Liam McIntyre) by his side, to save the love of his life, Hebe (Gaia Weiss), from being forced to marry his half-brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) and reclaim the land from his step-father.
Oh boy, where to even begin—as if the plot isn’t convoluted enough. I suppose all the blame usually falls on the director. And boy, has this director fallen. Renny Harlin was one of the top action directors at one point, but looking back now he only has three actually good action films under his belt: Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger, and The Long Kiss Goodnight. I can’t help but wonder if his name is more synonymous with being married to Geena Davis, who together produced the pirate flop Cutthroat Island. Anyway, there’s nothing on display here to show Harlin’s action background. If anything, Zack Snyder should have gotten a co-directing mention considering all the slow motion shots.
I haven’t even mentioned the 3D! You could call this 3D porn with how many spears and arrows Harlin throws at the screen. There also seemed to be a lot of stuff blowing in the air back in 1200 B.C. This is, without a doubt one, of the worst 3D conversions since Clash of the Titans. While technology has come a long way, this sends it back to the Stone Age. Beware any form of burning torch or fire pit if you attend a 3D viewing. I literally could not look at the screen in some scenes. One wide shot of a crowd winds up looking like a magic eye puzzle.
There’s also a throwaway line that made me laugh till I cried when a soldier blurts, “Out of my way woman.” This is saying something, considering how much laughing I did through the whole thing. The cast is either set on autopilot or overdrive. Garrigan and Adkins, in particular, chew scenery like they’re at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Weirdly, Hercules only has his God-like powers when it’s convenient to the plot. Disney’s animated feature was a better retelling than this. I’m literally wasting words here however. All you really need to know is that 2014 is off to a dismal start when The Legend of Hercules kicks things off with what will probably be one of the funniest movies of the year—even if unintentionally.
Photos courtesy Summit Entertainment