The Legend of Hercules film review
The Legend of Hercules (2014)
Kellan Lutz, Scott Adkins, Liam McIntyre, Johnathon Schaech, Liam Garrigan, Roxanne McKee, Gaia Weiss, Rade Serbedzjia, Kenneth Cranham, Mariah Gale
Lionsgate Films/Summit Entertainment
CRITIC’S RATING: * 1/2 stars (out of 4 stars)
Greek mythology’s famous strongman ironically fails to bust out of director Renny Harlin’s weak-kneed and corroded costume drama The Legend of Hercules, a relentlessly cheesy and boisterous action B-movie where the Mighty One flexes his monotonous muscles to no avail. This rather strained and clichéd swords-and-sandals saga does manage to pile on the silly-minded sauciness of kinetic kookiness and the cartoonish violence will certainly satisfy the rousing jolts for fans of this aimless and peppered period piece. Otherwise, there is not much else behind the creative hefty lifting of this flaccid fantasy.
As the hulking hero (offspring to Olympian ruler Zeus and mortal Queen Alcmene), lead Kellan Lutz (from the Twilight film series) is indeed a chiseled specimen that suits the legendary physicality of Hercules. However, there is an inherent blandness to Lutz’s characterization despite his labored efforts of combative strength as a fighting machine. It does not help that Harlin (“Driven”, “Cutthroat Island”) provides a riddled hyperactive production that incorporates sketchy acting, dumbing dialogue, bargain basement CGI special effects and a tacked-on lackluster love story that has all the tenderness of a squeaky Trojan horse.
In addition to Harlin’s pedestrian direction, screenwriters Sean Hood and Daniel Giat serve up a scattershot script that feeds this wannabe Spartacus toothless tale. Everything feels choppy and chaotic in The Legend of Hercules from the tedious battleground scenes to the overused Zack Snyder “300”-style copycat slow-and-stop technical tactics to spice up the boneheaded brutality. In true form, The Legend of Hercules demonstrates its expected brawn but never touches upon its brain for a more cohesive, stimulating actioner that sizzles as an intriguing ancient Greek myth on the big screen. Instead, one is subjected to a Greek salad because the movie arbitrarily tosses around its nonsensical ingredients including the aforementioned lopsided love story, child illegitimacy, indignities of servitude, physical punishment/humiliation and battle fatigue. Is this Hercules or an episode of The Jerry Springer Show?
Harlin’s absurdist adventure finds the bulky Prince Alcides/Hercules (Lutz) being shipped off to war-torn Egypt courtesy of the
dastardly King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins)—Queen Alcmene’s (Roxanne McKee) treacherous royal husband. Hercules leaves behind his mother Alcmene, loathsome step-father Amphitryon as well as his unctuous step-brother Prince Iphicles (Liam Garrigan). Unfortunately for Alcides/Hercules he is captured and made a slave. Hercules must go through the rigors of warfare if he is to ever return to Greece and reunite with his beloved Crete Princess Hebe (Gaia Weiss).
The method behind Amphitryon’s madness in banishing Hercules in the first place was to ensure that his son Iphicles can inherit the kingdom and find marital bliss with Hebe therefore leaving poor Hercules vulnerable. The trouble remains that Hebe’s affectionate heart belongs to Hercules only therefore putting a major wedge in the wicked Amphitryon’s future plans.
So Hercules goes through the by-the-numbers motion of slaughtering opposing gladiators and confronting wild exotic creatures while concentrating on making his way back to his precious Hebe. Along for the ride to assist Hercules in his hectic confrontations is fellow enforcer Sotiris (Liam McIntyre).
Sluggish and detestably draining, The Legend of Hercules stores its convincing power as a woeful case of Grecian formula that
never once works beyond its digitally enhanced dullness. The Steve Reeves late 1950’s Hercules vehicles (not to mention Lou Ferrigno’s early 1980’s forgettable outing and even the old 1960’s spunky cartoon series) are more engaging, spry and imaginative than this clunky costume caper dumped in the laps of moviegoers in the beginning of a fresh new movie season.
If anything, this particular Hercules stronghold barely musters up the interest to flash a bite-size bicep.
NOTE: Focus of New York film critic Frank Ochieng is a member of: