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With: Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins, Roxanne McKee, Liam Garrigan, Liam McIntyre, Rade Serbedzija, Johnathon Schaech, Luke Newberry, Kenneth Cranham, Mariah Gale, Sarai Givaty
Written by: Daniel Giat, Renny Harlin, Sean Hood, Giulio Steve
Directed by: Renny Harlin
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense combat action and violence, and for some sensuality
Running Time: 99
Date: 01/10/2014
IMDB

The Legend of Hercules (2014)

1/2 Star (out of 4)

Ye Gods...

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

There are a lot of bad Hercules movies in the world, but I wouldn't be surprised if The Legend of Hercules just muscled its way to the top (bottom?) of the heap. It was clearly aimed at the intellect of the typical 13 year-old male movie viewer -- as are most movies these days -- but this one missed. It comes closer to the intellect of a patch of fungus.

The movie tells the story of Hercules (the freakish-looking Kellan Lutz), who was fathered by Zeus and born to Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee). Unfortunately the queen's husband, King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) is a constantly sneering and/or shouting bad guy, as is their legitimate son, Iphicles (Liam Garrigan). The King sends Hercules as well as a dutiful warrior, Sotiris (Liam McIntyre) on a suicide mission. The other men die, but both Hercules and Sotiris survive and become slaves.

Before long they convince a simpleminded games master to take them back to Greece, where they will fight and earn their freedom. Then Hercules will defeat the bad guys. Oh yeah... I forgot. He's in love with the beautiful Hebe (Gaia Weiss), and she has been pledged to marry Iphicles.

Characters occasionally talk to one another about all this and other things, but I found it hard to listen. Not only was the writing and acting uniformly terrible, but sometimes the sound design made it hard to hear even the bad things that were being said. I didn't care about any of them. The plot doesn't particularly care about them either; it simply glosses over anything that's inconvenient.

There's also a lot of fighting, but Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger) apparently saw this thing where the shot cuts to super-slow motion for a beat during the fight and he thought it was cool, so he does it here. A lot. Many times during every fight.

The movie is just a flatline. It's totally uninspired on every level, and much of it is plain awful. The cinematography, while not shaky, is still ridiculous. It shows off a lot -- count how many shots have swirling white flower petals in them -- but also fails to capture the space of the action. Some scenes play like a porn movie with all the sex taken out. The visual effects are ridiculous; check the shot of the fake lion that doesn't appear to even be in the same time zone as the actors.

I guess I could go on, but I'll stop here. I'll just say that most of the time I was bored, but quite a few times I laughed, which reminded me of the four Hercules movies that the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" guys lampooned back in their day. If ever a new movie was deserving of that show, it's The Legend of Hercules.

I checked out the Blu-ray version, released by Lionsgate (and Summit and Millennium), and though the picture and sound are exceptionally clear, the movie still stinks. I was curious to listen to the commentary track by director Harlin and star Lutz, and though it subtly reveals a few things that might have gone wrong with the film, it mostly talks about how "great" everything was. Ugh. Otherwise we get a fairly typical, studio-produced, making-of featurette. Hopefully fans of Hercules will have better luck with this summer's Dwayne Johnson version.

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