There certainly have been worse films made than The Legend of Hercules. However, while you’re actually experiencing director Renny Harlin’s inept retread of 300, it’s hard to think of one.
Onetime male model Kellan Lutz plays the title character, who is conceived by Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) and Zeus in order to create a demigod who will end the reign of Alcmene’s tyrannical husband, King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins). When the king, unaware of his wife’s plan, walks in on her and “the god of gods” in flagrante delicto, he assumes she’s taken a lover and refuses to care for or love the boy she gives birth to months later; instead, he far prefers their older son, the perpetually sniveling Iphicles (Liam Garrigan).
Twenty years later, the king arranges a marriage between Iphicles and Hebe (Gaia Weiss), a princess from Crete whom Hercules loves. In order to remove that romantic obstacle, the king sends his youngest son on a doomed mission in which he’s sure to be killed. But the remarkably strong Hercules survives, and ends up leading a rebellion against the king while wondering if he will reunite with Hebe.
This is one ugly movie that seems bathed in murky darkness from its opening shot, a fact that’s accentuated by 3D effects that resemble little more than old-school View-Master stills. With the sound off, the film looks like a carbon copy of 300 in every way, from the fake-looking backgrounds to the obligatory slow motion thrown into the middle of every beat in the action sequences.
Having the sound off isn’t a bad idea at all, because the dialogue is uniformly wooden and usually screamed. None of the actors are able to make these characters feel real, and nobody seems to be aware of how ridiculous the movie is as a whole. The Legend of Hercules is in desperate need of some fun, something Harlin has been able to serve up in past work like Deep Blue Sea, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and Cliffhanger. He’s never been afraid of excess, but at his best he could temper it with a wink to the audience that let us know he wasn’t taking this seriously and neither should we. This time around, Harlin thinks he’s making a serious prestige film like Gladiator, rather than the big-budget, grade-z flick he really is.
For a movie this bad to be any fun, there needs to be some gonzo energy or at least a few sparks of creativity; while the king finding his wife and Zeus in the throes of passion should have been the jumping-off point for the rest of the story, it turns out to be the one grand moment of lunacy in an otherwise dull and ugly film.
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- Released: 2014
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: There certainly have been worse films made than The Legend of Hercules. However, while you’re actually experiencing director Renny Harlin’s inept retread of 300, it’s hard to think of one. Onetime male model Kellan Lutz plays the title character, w… (more)