Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Legend of Hercules

The Legend of Hercules, despite its title, has very little to do with any legends I have ever read which involve Hercules. The only recognizable part of the Hercules mythos is an encounter with the Nemean Lion, and the circumstances of it are dramatically different. This movie, while it borrows names from the Hercules legends, is really a cross between Gladiator and 300, but not nearly as good as either.

The most immediately obvious problem with The Legend of Hercules is the shoddy effects work. They were bad enough that I laughed at them several times, and even rolled my eyes once. I am at a loss to explain how the movie looks like this on a $70 million budget. For comparison purposes, the Spartacus TV show costs around $2 million per episode and its graphics are easily as good.

It seems unlikely that the money was spent on actors, as the movie has no stars. The lead, Kellan Lutz, actually isn't terrible, but in general the performances are decidedly sub-par. Some of that is undoubtedly due to the lines the poor actors were forced to deliver. At one point, someone actually says "Take their property in the name of the king" when it was already perfectly obvious to everyone, character and audience, what was going on.

The plot, in addition to its lack of relevance to Hercules, is predictable and unimaginative. The love story is thoroughly unconvincing, character motivations are shallow to nonexistent, and the only character who is even supposed to have a plot arc does not get a decent one. The most interesting character in the movie is a sidekick. In an odd twist, the actor of said character is the man who took over the role of Spartacus when Andy Whitfield died.

According to IMDB, the director, Renny Harlin, is "the most successful Finnish film director in the history of Hollywood." His credits include Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger. Unfortunately, he either isn't very good, or he phoned this one in. My guess is that he really wanted the film to look like 300, but didn't know how to do so.

Special mention needs to be made of how bad the female characters in this film are. Hercules' mother has only one dimension - she hates her husband and loves Hercules (mainly because Hera promised her that Hercules would overthrow the husband. Because apparently no one could come up with a plan any faster than having Zeus make a kid and wait for him to grow up). The love interest exists only as a love interest. We have no idea what qualities she might like in Hercules, and even less of any that she might have. In a movie in which all the characters are shallow, the women are even worse than the rest.

Performance: 2/5
Plot: 2/5
Production: 2/5
Overall: 2/5
Bechdel: Fail
Reverse-Bechdel: Pass
Mako Mori: Fail
What are these?

1. Lone Survivor
2. The Legend of Hercules

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