Movie Review: “The Legend of Hercules”

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Well folks, we have a winner. We’re barely into our second week of 2014 and as far as I’m concerned they can stop pumping out anymore movies into theaters this year. There is no possible way that anything released between now and when the big ball drops in Times Square that can compete with “The Legend of Hercules” for worst film of the year.

I know what you’re saying, “It’s so early. How could you possibly KNOW that this is going to be the WORST flick that is released in 2014?”

Well, I’ll tell you what. When January 1, 2015 comes around and you finally roll out of bed from the champagne-sipping fiesta you had the night before, you remember the prophecy I have foretold. Then, if you have seen a more putrid, poorly written, abysmally acted, unimaginatively directed piece of cinematic filth this year then I will personally write you a check for a million bucks.

Now, I don’t actually have a million bucks and I’m pretty sure I won’ have it by the end of the year either. This is, of course, barring any fluke scratch-off lottery ticket, unprecedented game show winning streak, inheritance from a dead rich uncle I never knew, brand new career in bank robbery, or giant found bag of drug money (a la Tony “Uncle Al” Blundetto in “The Sopranos”) that happens to come my way in the new year. So, in other words, IF you HAPPEN to ACTUALLY see a SHODDIER movie than “The Legend of Hercules” this year, I’m going to have to postdate the million-dollar check, just by a few decades. You’ll still might get your money, you it just won’t be for a while.

Plus, now that I think about it, I don’t even have a checkbook. I mean, I have a checking account, but I do all my banking online. So, I don’t ever come across an opportunity to actually, physically write a check and you can’t postdate a money order. Therefore, I’m going to have to splurge and pay that stupid fee to get a checkbook mailed to me.

But, that’s neither here nor there, because I am NEVER going to have to write that check, because you will NEVER see a film that is more gag-inducing than “The Legend of Hercules” this year… or ANY year really.

Did I mention that this movie really sucked?

Okay, okay. All of this criticism is unfair, you say, because I have yet to tell you WHY this movie is so

Kellan Lutz in"The Legend of Hercules"

Totally preening, am I right?

God awful… I’m sorry, I should leave God out of this… so WOEFULLY awful.

First off, I don’t know who actually thought it was a good idea to cast Kellan Lutz in the role of a Greek Demigod, but they should immediately make an appointment with their neurologist and their ENT doctor just to make sure there’s no loss of sight and hearing and/or irreversible brain damage. What a momentary lapse of judgment and reason whoever this person was must have had when they casted this big, dumb yutz (whoops, I meant Lutz — sorry Kellan) in this role. All he does is walk around (or ride around on a horse) with his chest puffed out like a peacock with whitened teeth and too much spray tan.

In this film’s “Trivia” section on IMDb, it says that Lutz wanted to train in the gym longer and harder in order to look the part of the half God-half mortal warrior, but director/c0-writer (with three other dudes who wished they would’ve pulled an “Alan Smithee”Renny Harlin (remember when this guy had a promising career?) put the kibosh on it and told him to just work on getting his abs more chiseled. Oh, the life of a heartthrob actor — four hours-a-day in the gym and skinless chicken breast and steamed broccoli for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Oooh, sign me up. Actually, seriously, where do I sign?

So, anyway, my point is that if Lutz would have spent that all-too-important exercise regiment working on his lines, his performance MAY have been a little better. It might have even been close to tolerable — one can only wish. I never thought I’d EVER say or write the following words but… I think The Rock will do a much better job.

That’s another thing. Why does everyone in the movie business feel the need to shamelessly copy one another. I mean, I’m not stupid — naive, but not stupid. I know that every single writer or director in the biz are just regurgitating each other’s ideas. This has gone on since the first cave drawing was formed into a story line.

However, does this mean we need TWO Hercules movies to come out within months of one another? In

Kellan Lutz is in shackles in "The Legend of Hercules"

His name might not be Alice but this dude’s definitely “in chains.” (cue rimshot)

case you didn’t know, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will star as the son of Zeus in the aptly named “Hercules,” which has a star-studded cast and is scheduled for a July 2014 release. The problem is that “The Legend of Hercules” is so bad that it will immediately make people skeptical of another Hercules movie. Or, it might work in its favor. I mean, it can’t be worse can it? Oh man, if it IS worse, I can’t begin to fathom the stench of its odor. It would be beyond words, yet it would still be fun to try to find the right ones to describe it.

Seriously though, why does Hollywood always need to pull a Noah’s Ark and trot out movies in twos? In 1998, “Deep Impact” came out in May. Then, in July, another Earth-in-peril-from-an-asteroid movie came called “Armageddon.” I mean, both films were bad, but “Armageddon” had the more well-known cast and more talented director (I use this term loosely with Michael Bay) and the bigger budget. So, I guess “Armageddon, which came out second, was the better film. So, that bodes well for the upcoming “Hercules” biopic. Ha, I called “Hercules” a biopic. Well, it might be a biopic, if you still believe that the Gods of Greek Mythology exist on Mount Olympus. Then, you might think that Hercules was a real dude and these films would be like your own personal “Lincoln.” Maybe they might even let you watch it when it’s on cable in a few years… in the rec room at the mental hospital. If you’re a good boy, that is.

But I digress (man, I’ve been digressing a lot today), I’m not going to go into it on a case-by-case basis, but there are countless instances in which Hollywood has trotted out two films that have a very similar premise and/or plot within months of each other. And no, I’m not talking about that company that releases their films on DVD around the same time that their big-budget counterparts are in the theaters in order to make a few dishonest bucks. If you’re not familiar with this phenomenon, they’re referred to as “mockbusters.” Seriously, look up the films “Transmorphers” (and “Transmorphers: Fall of Man”), “Atlantic Rim,” “Snakes on a Train,” “Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies,” “AVH: Alien Vs. Hunter,” “The Da Vinci Treasure,” “Paranormal Entity,” etc, and try to stifle your laughter.

That’s the puzzling thing about “The Legend of Hercules,” it has all the makings of a “mockbuster” — a

Kellan Lutz feeling good about his physique in "The Legend of Hercules"

I’ll bet you Kellan Lutz has never even been INSIDE a McDonald’s.

second-rate story that lends itself to a lower budget, a cast full of barely known B-level actors and a director who hasn’t had a hit movie since Clinton was in office. However, for some inexplicable reason, somebody gave the producers of this movie a bunch of money. I mean, maybe they ran a Ponzi Scheme and stole the money from a group of investors made up of isolated elderly millionaires with amnesia. Or, maybe they accrued some silent partners from the world of sports.

You know, maybe Kellan Lutz met some athletes at the gym he was working out in and told them about how he had this awesome movie he was starring in and MAYBE they had  received ONE TOO MANY hits to the head during their football career and (VOILA!) instant moviemaking money.

Whatever the case may be, SOMEBODY put their hard-earned cash behind the filmmakers responsible for making “The Legend of Hercules” and THIS is what they got in return…

The film opens up 20 years before Hercules is even born. Some dude named Amphitryon (played by Gerard Butler clone Scott Adkins) is commanding an army and fights the leader of another army, in order for the right to become King (I know these people and places have names, but they’re not important — plus, I just don’t feel the need to spell them out right now). Amphy (which I’ll call him now) kills the leader of the army and goes back to celebrate his victory by bragging, boasting and warmongering (I love that word). His peaceful wife, Alcemene (played by a REALLY soft-spoken Roxanne McKee — I mean, seriously, I could barely hear her) is none-too-happy about her husband’s attitude, so she prays to the Goddess Hera to put an end to it.

Well, Hera, being Zeus’ wife, is also none-too-happy about HER husband’s attitude either. As it turns out, Zeus, being the CEO of the Gods and everything, likes to cheat on his wife every now and then. In fact, he cheats on her CONSTANTLY and gets EVERY, SINGLE woman he sleeps with PREGNANT. I’ll bet he was always going on the ancient Greek equivalent of “The Maury Show.” It was probably called “The Maurylitis Show,” or something along those lines.

Anyway, Hera tells Alcy (I’ll be doing this for ALL the characters from now on) that she will have her

The battle commences in "The Legend of Hercules"

This is the scene where they rip-off “300.”

peace ONLY if she agrees to have an extramarital affair with Zeus and bears his son, which will really be named Hercules, but can be named any name Alcy sees fit. Basically, Zeus’ wife is actually his pimp, I guess. So, that night, in one of the worst scenes in any film featuring a Greek God (trust me, it’s much worse than ANY “Clash of the Titans” scene, new or old) Zeus comes to Alcy in the form of wind or air or something low of budget and makes love to her.

Well, as you can probably tell, Alcy’s husband is a jealous man and enters the tent (with another woman, mind you!) just as Alcy is reaching climax with Old Zeusy. Well Amphy, who’s the husband, (I’ll keep score for you… at first) rushes in and pulls back the covers to see… ONLY HIS WIFE… ALONE! Amphy proceeds to tear the whole tent apart looking for this mysterious man, but he never finds him. He is quite the testosterone-filled dumbass. Nine months later, a son is born, but King Amphy (as he’s known now) is convinced that it’s not his child. So, he tells Alcy to name the child a different name then Hercules (which, I’m not gonna lie, I can’t quite remember) and that he’s going to treat the child much worse than he treats his first-born son Iphicles. Not exactly “Father of the Year” material, but either is Zeus. Wow, Alcy knows how to pick ’em.

The story fast-forwards 20 years into the future and Amphy and Alcy are still husband and wife AND King and Queen, Iphicles (the not-that-bad Liam Garrigan) is heir to the throne, and Hercules is the forgotten son. This means he’s able to spend his days lusting after the beautiful princess of some other land named Hebe (Gaia Weiss); going horseback riding, and swimming in a dirty pond (and that’s NOT a metaphor). However, Iphy is in love with Hebe himself and jealous of his brother’s relationship

Kellan Lutz and Gaia Weiss in "The Legend of Hercules"

Herc likes to invite his female fans to join him in his dirty pond… his dirty, depraved pond.

with her. So, he stalks them everywhere they go and (you know what)blocks him any chance he gets.

After breaking up one of their trysts, he rides home with Hercules and whines the whole way about how it’s not fair that Herc gets the girl. On the way, they run into the Nemean Lion, which is supposed to be this memorable, important scene featuring this famous, big, scary beast, but it actually looks more like a CGI fail to me. So, Herc says that he will sacrifice himself so his bro Iphy can escape, but Iphy will have no part of Herc’s selfish, self-glorifying plan. HE wants to kill the beast, so he attacks it and gets a claw to the face for his troubles. Herc grabs the lion and LITERALLY pulls a UFC move on it and chokes it out… to death! And there you have it, this big, important, mythical beast is onscreen for about 90 seconds. I definitely felt cheated.

When they finally do arrive home, Iphy is wearing the skin of the lion and takes the credit for the kill, but Herc doesn’t care. He still has the girl, right? Not for long, Hercy-boy. Iphy has secretly asked his Dad to betroth Hebe to him and by the King’s will it will be done. Plus, the King hates Herc anyway, so any chance he gets to hurt his unfaithful wife and her bastard son he takes with glee.

Upon hearing the very public announcement regarding her new wedding arrangement, Hebe runs from the room (“Don’t look at me!”) and Herc chases after her. So, Hebe and Herc decide to run away from home (how 1990s) and start a life together. They don’t far, however, and the King exiles Herc to do battle in Egypt or Heliopolis or whatever they call it… to hopefully never return again.

Okay, this review is getting long and this film is not worth this much effort, so I’ll summarize and wrap

A NEW battle commences in "The Legend of Hercules"

And here’s the scene where they rip-off the Battle of Helm’s Deep in “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.”

it up. Herc goes to battle (“300” rip-off and a little bit of “Immortals,” as well), everybody thinks he’s dead, but he’s sold into slavery instead and forced to fight for his freedom (“Gladiator” rip-off), and he returns to  Greece a conquering hero and fights he father and his brother for control of the land (“Lord of the Rings” Helm’s Deep rip-off included in this section). In other words, the film is a straight-up rip-off of other, better movies. Oh, also if you’re not a fan of slow-motion action scenes PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t watch this film. In fact, if you were to speed-up ALL the slow-motion segments, the running time would go from around 90 minutes to about 20 minutes.

Seriously, I’m not kidding, there’s A LOT of slow-motion involved here. Waaay too much, which, in fact, is the sign of an unimaginative director and it’s a crying shame. At one point, Renny Harlin was an up-and-coming, well-respected action director who was responsible for “Die Hard 2,” “Cliffhanger,” “The Long Kiss Goodnight,” etc. He also was responsible for the atrocious box-office bomb “Cutthroat Island” and the shark-filled, CGI-fest “Deep Blue Sea” (I can’t tell a lie, I actually found this film fun), so we know he had some dreck in him, but this film takes the proverbial cake. It’s a thousand-times worse than the only other movie he’s directed lately, last year’s found-footage fiasco “Devil’s Pass,” which wasn’t actually half-bad for a low-budget horror flick.

Now that I’ve said all this, I think it’s safe to say that you can close the book on the voting for “Worst Film of 2014″ with “The Legend of Hercules.” I can’t imagine another film that will have a worse story, more laughable dialogue, a cast of more wooden actors, and/or a more mailed-in approach in the director’s chair than this film this year.

And that includes whatever “mockbuster,” featuring Hercules and his exploits, that comes after it.

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