The Legend of Hercules

Cast:
Kellan Lutz as Hercules
Gaia Weissa as Hebe
Scott Adkins as King Amphitryon
Roxanne McKee as Queen Alcmene
Liam Garrigan as Iphicles
Liam McIntyre as Sotiris
Rade Serbedzija as Chiron
Johnathon Schaech as Tarak
Luke Newberry as Agamemnon
Kenneth Cranham as Lucius
Mariah Gale as Kakia
Sarai Givaty as Saphirra
Dimiter Doichinov as King Galenus / Champion #1
Nikolai Sotirov as King Tallas
Radoslav Parvanov as Half Face
Spencer Wilding as Humbaba
Bashar Rahal as Battalion Commander #1
Vladimir Mihailov as Battalion Commander #2
Kitodar Todorov as Fight Announcer
Stefan Shterev as Promoter

Directed by Renny Harlin

Story:
Hercules famously was born from the loins of the Greek God Zeus to become a demi-god, but on earth, he has to contend with his “father” the King (Scott Adkins) and competitive brother Iphicles, who wants Hercules’ love interest (Gaia Weissa) for himself. This leads to a huge conflict with Hercules in the middle of it.

Analysis:
It may be too easy to discount this January release merely by the names on the marquee, because Renny Harlin’s filmography as a director is spotty at best and Kellan Lutz hasn’t really proven himself as an actor, let alone as an action star. Let’s just say there comes a lot of prejudgments on the idea of the two of them bringing the story of the Mythological hero to the screen after so many others have tried, which brings fears that they’d do a worse job than those previous attempts. Thankfully, the movie doesn’t completely stink and go all campy like some of those previous movies, instead telling a fairly straight-forward origin story how Hercules became the legend that he was.

But the movie starts before he is born showing a stand-off in Argos between King Amphitryon and the champion from the city he’s invading, and after a quick battle, he’s in charge. Decades later his unsatisfied wife Queen Alcmene turns to the Gods, specifically Hera, to save her from her miserable marriage. She’s given a son born by the Gods, but that just makes Amphitryon and Hercules’ competitive brother Iphicles more jealous and cruel. We cut forward a few decades and Hercules (Lutz) is a pretty stropping man, out cavorting with the beautiful Princess of Crete, Hebe, taking off his shirt to climb up the side of a waterfall and dive off in order to impress her. But Iphicles, the true heir to the throne is having none of it and he decides to take Hercules out of the picture to have the princess as his bride.

Are you following so far? It’s not terribly difficult or original a story, but Hercules and a band of soldiers are sent off to Egypt basically in hopes he gets killed, leading to more conflict. At a certain point, it gets bad, because you feel like you’re watching something you’ve already seen before. There are moments taken directly from “300,” “Gladiator,” “Clash of the Titans,” “Troy” and a few others, although there are also a few unique visuals like watching Hercules staving off armies by swinging giant column boulders at the ends of chains or yielding a lightning sword.

The exposition and any attempts at drama are dull, especially the moments that Lutz spends shirtlessly wooing his lady love, but whenever it cuts away to show some drama back home, it’s even worse. Much of that can be blamed on Scott Adkins, who gives such ridiculously over-the-top performance as does his son Iphicles, played by Liam Garrigan, both having attended the same “historic evil bad guy” workshop apparently. The fact that Kellan Lutz wasn’t the worst actor in this movie shocked me, but he doesn’t do himself any favors when he opens his mouther to utter lines.

The worst thing about “Legend of Hercules” though is that there’s little fun to be had with the movie and it takes itself way too seriously. Maybe it should be relegated to the world of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” where people can wear costumes of their favorite characters and yell at the screen as that would be a far more fun experience than just watching it? It’s not that it seems like anyone making this movie isn’t trying hard enough, they just seem to be trying to make a movie that didn’t need to be made.

Harlin is certainly not an incompetent director and he’s found a production designer, a fight coordinator and cinematographer that do the movie proud by basically reproducing things we’ve seen in other movies – during the warrior fight sequences, we even get a bit of the old Zack Snyder fast then slow movements, and the gladiator scenes do look a lot like “Gladiator.”

So the movie does look good and the 3D is particularly useful for making some of the action scenes pop off the screen, not to mention the giant CG landscapes, but it’s still just so filled with visual clichés, that you could show a scene from “Legend of Hercules” to someone and they would just think it’s from “300″ or “Immortals” or “Gladiator” or anything else.

The Bottom Line:
Not a terrible movie as much as a redundant one since we’ve already seen much of the source material and most of that does it better than this mostly ripped-off cliché fest.

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