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The Legend of Hercules


2014 | 99 min | PG-13 | 2.39:1

The Legend of Hercules

Rating


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
4.5
52
ratings.


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Movie appeal

 
Fantasy100%
Action76%
Adventure75%
8
fans

408
Blu-ray
collections
6
DVD
collections
55
UV
collections
21
iTunes
collections

Theatrical release date


 10 January, 2014
 28 March, 2014

Country of origin


 United States

Technical aspects


3D (native, 99 minutes)

Box office


 $18,848,538
 $61,279,452

Links


                 

Overview Preview Cast & crew Screenshots User reviews News Forum

The Legend of Hercules

 (2014)

Screenshots from The Legend of Hercules 3D Blu-ray

The Legend of Hercules Preview  

3
 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, January 10, 2014

There has been no shortage of movies detailing the exploits of the legendary figure Hercules throughout cinema history. The character was a fixture of matinee distractions in the 1950s and ‘60s, eventually finding renewed popularity with a 1997 Disney Animation production and cult television series starring Kevin Sorbo. Apparently, 2014 has been designated the Year of Hercules, with two pictures hitting screens hoping to reignite interest in the powerful hero. The first out of the gate is “The Legend of Hercules,” director Renny Harlin’s attempt to transform the figure of might into a clichéd, slo-mo stabbing machine, siphoning tricks and imagery from seemingly every popular adventure film since 2000. Painfully derivative and miscast up the wazoo, this effort to return mythical majesty to the multiplex triggers more yawns than cheers.



A tyrant looking to expand his rule, King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) has commanded his first born son, Iphicles (Liam Garrigan), to marry Hebe (Gaia Weiss), the daughter of his former enemy. Unfortunately, Hebe’s heart is promised to Hercules (Kellan Lutz), the son of Zeus who’s unaware of his demigod powers, raised under Amphitryon’s cruel ways. Disrupting the plan, Hercules is banished to the front lines alongside Commander Sotiris (Liam McIntyre), soon enslaved by his enemies, made to battle for the entertainment of others. Growing in stature and strength, Hercules develops into a hero, inspiring the masses as he hashes out a plan to defeat the Amphitryon and unite the kingdoms. However, to accomplish such an impossible task, the warrior must find faith in his lineage, calling on Zeus’s might to fuel his quest to return to Hebe’s warm embrace.

“The Legend of Hercules” walks and talks like a hundred other films. Instead of striking out on his own, laboring to give the production a specialized feel with an idiosyncratic approach, Harlin settles on mimicry, cherry picking his favorite parts from similar actioners to build a familiar looking movie. The obvious influences are “300” and “Gladiator,” two sword-and-sandal films that provide the helmer with a road map of trends to follow, stripping the Hercules myth of its sense of danger and wonder, reducing the man to a pawn in a most uninteresting game of dramatic chess as characters scheme and betray, while Hebe remains a fixture of purity, devoted to her secretive boyfriend in a manner that feeds romantic elements best left alone, as they prove to be too bulky for Harlin to successfully communicate.



The cut and paste approach wounds the movie immediately, always reminding the viewer of other films instead of this one. Although he’s proven himself skilled with creating worlds (and promptly blowing them up) before, Harlin doesn’t have a true vision for “The Legend of Hercules,” mummifying the effort in CGI (environments are often absurdly artificial) to articulate ancient realms that should be built by hand, and he maintains an obsession with “speed ramping” (controlling slow motion footage) to such a degree, it almost appears as though the whole thing was created solely to demonstrate the effect.

The glossy approach has a purpose, since the screenplay is incapable of providing a reason to care about the lead character’s plight and his rise to power. Riding on narrative rails laid by other pictures, “The Legend of Hercules” is left trying to create excitement with known elements, straining to pretend this collection of leaders, soldiers, and devoted women is brand new to the world. The act isn’t convincing, though Harlin is wise to keep the feature on its feet for much of its run time. While the action is recognizable, at least it’s movement, which is exactly what this movie needs to deflect attention away from its habitual thievery.



Performances, save for Kenneth Cranham’s turn as Hercules’s slave master, are abysmal, putting blustery dramatic goals in the hands of Lutz, Adkins, and Jonathan Schaech, who plays a Persian mercenary in cornrows. Physicality is important, and there’s not exactly a long list of Shakespearean-trained actors who’ve tackled the role of Hercules (with Steve Reeves, Lou Ferringo, and Arnold Schwarzenegger a few of the names), leaving the star with some breathing room. Lutz (buried under layers of self-tanner) can only flex and growl for so long before it’s clear he can’t do anything with the part, unable to command the film with the level of charisma and fury it requires. He leaps with pride and plunges his fair share of swords into enemies, but this Hercules isn’t imposing or, frankly, valiant, with too much of the script devoted to a banal origin story meant to bring the lost soul to the doorstep of Zeus. Although here, the eventual union of daddy and demigod resembles the Prince Adam transformation sequence from the old “He-Man” cartoon. I was half-expecting Hercules to scream “I have the power!” as he absorbs godly energy from swirling clouds above.

At the very least, “The Legend of Hercules” looks expensive, striving to convey a bigness that Harlin almost nails with enormous gladiatorial arena crowds and war sequences. Scoring from Tumoas Kantelinen comes close to selling a soaring theme of heroism for Hercules, but comes up frustratingly short. Positivity is difficult to muster around this feature, and while it pushes forward with heavy, bloodless violence and a noisy sound design, “The Legend of Hercules” is truly a lazy film, rarely submitting invention of its own while avoiding the rich playground of Greek myth to keep matters earthbound and exhaustively monotonous.

Starring: Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins, Roxanne McKee, Liam McIntyre, Rade Šerbedžija
Director: Renny Harlin

» See full cast & crew


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