Title: The Legend of Hercules
Who Is This Kellan Lutz Person, Anyway? He was one of those Cullen dudes in the Twilight movies, though he's probably grateful to be remembered as one of that franchise's less terrible actors.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Zero Lernean hydras out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Son of Zeus must save kingdom from wicked stepfather.
Tagline: "Every man has a destiny."
Better Tagline: "Ode to a Grecian turd."
That's Terrible. It sure was.
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Strapping young Alcides (Kellan Lutz) has problems.: his jealous older brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) is betrothed to Princess Hebe (Gaia Weiss), the girl he loves; while his dad Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) has sent him off to Egypt to certain death ... and he *isn't even his real dad*. See, Alcides is really Hercules, son of the god Zeus via a pact Hera made with his mom Alcmene (Roxanne McKee). Now he has to free himself from sweaty slavery and liberate the people from not-real dad, all while pissing on Edith Hamilton's bones.
"Critical" Analysis: ""Beefcake!"
The Legend of Hercules is the first of two planned 2014 films about the mythical hero, getting a six-month jump on Brett Ratner/Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's upcoming effort. Were I in a charitable mood, I could ascribe Legend's many flaws to Summit Entertainment's hasty attempt to steal a march on its bigger budget rival.
But I'm not, unfortunately. Summit is evidently *so* confident in their latest release they didn't show it to critics until the night before opening (technically, the night *of*: the first showtimes were 10:30 last night), and since I resent having to go straight from a screening to banging out a review without any down time, it causes me no discomfort to tell you The Legend of Hercules is shallow, timid, and derivative in the worst ways possible.
Renny Harlin used to be on my (semi) cool list. He directed the third best entry in the Die Hard franchise (Die Hard 2) and one of my favorite guilty pleasures (Deep Blue Sea), but here he's decided the best course of action is to ape Zach Snyder's alternating slow-mo/normal speed camera style from 300 for the battle sequences. Even worse, Harlin and his three(!) co-writers have -- after putting their heads together -- crafted a tale that is, in essence, a PG-13 Gladiator.
After Alcides/Hercules' capture by swarthy Egyptians (typically, the "Greeks" are of Northern European stock, and none more so than the towheaded Lutz himself), he must battle in the fighting pits alongside faithful lieutenant Sotiris (Liam McIntyre), before a sympathetic trainer not played by Oliver Reed agrees to bring them to Greece so they can earn their freedom. Harlin also doesn't want us to forget any other overrated pseudo-historical epics, having Hercules give an inspirational speech that's only missing a "Freedom!" at the end.
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Hercules' divine strength doesn't manifest itself until the final act, when he finally agrees to accept Zeus as his lord and savior, or something. Even then, it appears to be a trait he can discard at will, such as when facing treacherous not-dad Amphitryon in yet another bloodless battle. Disappointing, because the only way they could've saved this is by going double live gonzo and making it a hard 'R'. Give us spilled intestines, crushed rib cages, and plenty of bare boobs and butts. You're already releasing this January when no one will see it, Summit; go nuts and turn the exploitation up to XI.
Like Grand Moff Tarkin, I grow tired of asking this: why make a [Hercules] movie that has nothing to do with [Hercules]? The closest thing we get to the 12 Labors is when Hercules offhandedly kills the "Nemean Lion" in the first ten minutes (after we fast forward 20 years from his birth, meaning we don't even get to see him kill the snakes in his crib). Meanwhile the unsavory bits - like him murdering his children in a fit of rage - don't really gel with the happy ending Harlin dumps on us. The closest analog (other than Jesus) I came up with was Samson, thanks to some righteous pillar toppling. Hercules, however, this is not.
There are a lot of shirtless dudes, though. So at least the ladies will be distracted from, well, everything else.
The Legend of Hercules is in theaters today. I've learned, to my sorrow, that if you stop exercising, the muscle turns to fat.