Jan 11, 2014

Film Review: The Legend of Hercules

By Josh Oakley

With Robin Hood, Ridley Scott incorrectly posited that the world hungered for an origin story surrounding its titular hero. The film was a creative bust, yawning from scene to scene in a misguided attempt to transcribe the events that led to the creation of folklore. Origin story fatigue, commonplace in the superhero world of cinema, is far from the sole reason that The Legend of Hercules makes Robin Hood seem like a forgotten masterpiece. There’s also every other aspect of the film.

Beige sack of rocks Kellan Lutz plays the eponymous demigod, though he is unaware of his heritage until a good ways into the running time. Before that, we see a backstory concerning Hercules’ step-father (Scott Adkins) and biological mother (Roxanne McKee) taking over the city of Argos. The queen is concerned that her husband is a war-mongering monster and asks Zeus for his son, which seems a bit presumptive. I must have missed the scene where she also wishes that her and her husband shall never age, because when Hercules jumps ahead two decades absolutely no make-up, hair coloring or anything within ten miles of that wheelhouse has been applied. This may be the film’s way of warning you: it can’t even tell time, so don’t expect a story out of it.

The incoherent semblance of a plot sees Hercules going off to war after having an affair with the fiancĂ©e (Gaia Weiss) of his half-brother (Liam Garrigan). The latter is more-punchable variation on Game of Thrones’ Joffrey, and the former, as I understand, is a sheet of paper with gold squiggly lines drawn on for hair. Hercules eventually finds him self in an underground wrestling ring that scoffs at the homoeroticism of Fight Club. He makes his way home and is finally able to tap into the true, crayon-drawn CGI lightening powers of his real father.

About those visual effects. The opening shot immediately orients the viewer in a world more closely aligned with drawings adorning a grad-school hallway than anything resembling real life. This is ostensibly a live-action movie, though that classification operates under the assumption that the actors are alive. But the CGI surrounding these “humans” (again, merely a theory as to the race of the creatures populating this film) is atrocious, particularly a lion that seems to have been ported from the Daniel and the Den episode of Veggie Tales. The action sequences, such as sword fights with infuriating bursts of slo-mo, are bogged down with the flat, disgusting world surrounding them. Absolutely nothing here can breathe in the slightest which hurts any richness or fun this movie may have had.

There a litany of other issues, such as the fact that the supporting performances are so wretched that Lutz, the poor-man’s Sam Worthington (who already belongs to the poverty-stricken), seems bearable in the context of those around him. Also, it bandies about dialogue like “the arrangements may be spoiled by the next harvest’s moon” with a grave seriousness. Not even the January dumping ground works as an explanation for a film this lazily slapped together. The Legend of Hercules is effortless, in the worst possible way.

Grade: D-

Director: Renny Harlin
Writers: Daniel Giat, Renny Harlin, Sean Hood, Giulio Steve
Cast: Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins, Roxanne McKee, Liam Garrigan

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