Starring: Kellan Lutz, Scott Adkins, Gaia Weiss
Genre: Action/ Adventure
In Greece in 1200 BC, Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee), wife of King Amphitryon (Adkins) prays to the goddess Hera for guidance to stop her husband’s increasing greed and warmongering. Alcmene bares the son of Zeus, named by Hera as Hercules (Heracles) whose destiny it will be to overthrow the tyranny of Amphitryon. Knowing the son not to be his, Amphitryon names the boy Alcides and when he is old enough to fight, purposefully sends him to fight in a battle where certain death awaits. Betrayed and left for dead, Hercules (now a slave) must now fulfil his destiny and bring peace back to Greece.
You wait ages for a film about the most famous demigod of them all, and two turn up in a short space of time. Though this of course was released before the Dwayne Johnson starring film (for my review of that sword and sandals romp, click here), I had to wait to rent this so have seen them in reverse order of release, but I wouldn’t have had to seen The Rock’s mullet wearing titular hero first to know it was better than Renny Harlin’s effort. The fact is that there was no way it could be any worse than this total tripe.
This Hercules is an attempt at an origin story (and I expect a franchise starter – trust me that will not happen now!), and despite being a former classics student I have no problem with films doing what the hell they want with Heracles, as they are myths after all anyway, but getting Renny Harlin to direct it is probably not the wisest idea. He did a good job with Die Hard 2, and Cliffhanger is one of the ultimate guilty pleasures, but giving the man $70million to spend on making a film is pure madness! I think we all remember Cutthroat Island or Driven!
Well the result of this $70million is a film with as many redeeming features as food poisoning; the action is so badly made and storyline and acting too dull for any excitement, but yet it fails to even fall into the camp laughs of being so bad it is good. $70 million is a reasonable budget, but yet the CGI and action make some of the films that The Asylum or Uwe Boll have produced look like Ben-Hur. Made for 3D (!), the CGI is unbelievably bad and some of the scenes of our hero jumping around and throwing boulders at people look embarrassingly dodgy and fake. Harlin in his deluded approach to direction seems to think that going for the whole Matrix style approach of putting things in extreme slow motion makes them seem epic and dramatic. No Renny, they just look even more ridiculous, especially when over-used to this extent!
If the direction and set design were not bad enough, The Legend of Hercules features truly atrocious dialogue that is sometimes quite painful to watch. I have no problem with any kind of interpretation of the story of Hercules (Heracles), but at least make some effort with the dialogue!
What makes the dialogue worse is the stoic and deadly serious delivery from the actors whose performances range from wooden to comatose. In the titular role Kellan Lutz looks the part and does try, but he lacks any charisma or screen presence. The rest of the cast are truly awful and though they cannot perhaps help the atrocious dialogue they are given, they all just look so bored. So if they actors, who I am sure are being handsomely paid look bored, how the hell is the audience supposed to feel?!?
Bret Ratner’s Hercules is a perfectly judged and very entertaining camp romp of a film, while Renny Harlin’s The Legend of Hercules is a film that should be straight to DVD tripe, with the only engaging element of it is the question: what the hell did they actually do with that $70million? Though it perhaps isn’t offensively bad like some of the long list of bad films from 2014, The Legend of Hercules is a true test of staying awake.
Of all the Greek myths, the story of Hercules (Heracles) has so much cinematic potential, yet Renny Harlin has managed to make it seem one of the dullest and most uninspiring stories of all time with a true detritus of a film that deserves to be ignored and instantly forgotten about. This is an example of how not: How not to write a script, how not to direct action, how not to act…..
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