Movie Review: The Legend of Hercules
What We Liked
What We Didn't Like
The Legend of Hercules is a dreadful origin film about the titular hero from Greek myth. Here, the fabled strong-man (played by Kellan Lutz) must overcome great adversity to accept who he is and what he must do to survive so that can become the hero he is destined to be.
Hercules’ birth starts out, indirectly, from the desire of his mother-to-be, Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee), who dreams of living in a Greece that knows peace and is not continually driven to war. War so delights her husband King Amphityron (Scott Adkins) that it has become a way of life for the Greeks. The Queen beseeches the goddess Hera and is granted divine assistance. Hercules is born to bring peace to the land.
Needless to say, the King is not too happy that his wife has had a child without him, but he cannot accept that the father is actually Zeus and cannot find evidence of any other man near his wife. Therefore, Hercules grows up on sufferance as a prince but never really has a father. The King instead favors his first-born son, the crown prince Iphicles (Liam Garrigan).
Once grown, the brothers are naturally in constant conflict with one another as Iphicles is the clear favorite of the King even though Hercules is a superior fighter and leader and would normally be favored in such a militaristic country. Let’s just say that being a demi-god has some physical perks.
Later, the brothers are drawn to the same woman, Hebe (Gaia Weiss). She is the Princess of Crete and leads to the main conflict of the story. Then we see Hercules endure betrayal, loss, enslavement, and a search for a way back to Greece so that he can win her back and save his kingdom from the rule of his tyrannical father and somewhat unhinged brother.
Director Renny Harlin, is someone who knows action (Die Hard 2, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Deep Blue Sea) and the film shows that. These scenes seem well-planned and organized and are the best part of the movie. The set pieces are set up admirably. The problem is that the style is so similar to the film 300 and the television series Spartacus that they feel completely ripped-off. Then, there is so much more that is dreadful.
Lutz will never be a Dwayne Johnson much less an Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ironically, the Rock will be in the next Hollywood movie about Hercules in a few months. Lutz proves capable enough during the action scenes but he was the worst actor on the screen and that is unforgivable for the character with the most screen-time. I honestly felt bad for the other actors in the film. Scott Adkins was clearly a better action-hero than Lutz, and he was the villain.
There were plot holes and pacing problems but they were nothing that a capable rewrite couldn’t overcome. Despite a couple of good one-liners, this was not well written at all. Humorless and derivative are not a good combination. Oddly, the editing is disjointed as well. My best guess would be that there just wasn’t enough good footage of Lutz to logically edit several scenes. While there are many other flaws in the film, the one that particularly bothered me was the lack of a supernatural/fantasy element. When I think of Hercules, I cannot help but wish for that aspect to come to the forefront a la Clash of the Titans. He is a demi-god after all so that does not seem to be asking too much.
I went in to this film with somewhat low expectations, based on the cast, and was still a bit disappointed. The Legend of Hercules is a retcon origin of a mythical hero that has been thrown into a Hollywood blender from Hades and the resulting mess is a poorly made gladiator-esque tale for Twi-Hards and Spartacus buffs.