THE LEGEND OF HERCULES review by Ronnie Malik – Kellan Lutz tries to revive a classic hero

THE LEGEND OF HERCULES review by Ronnie Malik – Kellan Lutz tries to revive a classic hero

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Director: Renny Harlin

Cast: Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins, Roxanne McKee, Liam McIntyre, Liam Garrigan

Rating: C-

The Legend of Hercules, the latest mythological warrior film to hit the big screen, is a cocktail mixed with slow motion action sequences, sibling rivalry, corruption, romance, and mysticism. Director Renny Harlin brings to life one of the biggest characters in Greek mythology with plenty of sandal and toga wearing muscle men to fill the big screen, and a few pretty girls thrown in to add to the appeal of another film attempting to win big at the box office with the allure of a brawny hero defeating evil. So will this be a film audiences will want to sip and savor or spit out once they have had their fill?

Queen Alceme (Roxanne McKee) is wife to King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins). The queen is appalled by her husband’s tyranny and wants to put a stop to the cruel king’s diabolical rule. She makes a pact with Zeus, king of the Gods, to bear his son. The child will grow up to be the people’s savior and overthrow the evil ruler that puts fear into hearts of all his Grecian subjects. Queen Alceme is blessed with Hercules, a strong son whose identity she must protect at all costs if he is to fulfill his destiny.

Fast forward 20 years later and we find Hercules in love with Princess Hebe (Gaia Weiss) who is also being pursued by Iphicles (Liam Garrigan), Hercules’s older step brother. In a twist of fate Hebe is promised to Iphicles in marriage as a political pawn to bring two kingdoms together. Always suspecting that Hercules was not his son, King Amphitryon forces the young champion into a battle with only half an army. The king is plotting the death of Hercules at the hands of his enemy to get the would be hero out of the way and make a clear path for his own son.

Hercules and his loyal friend Sotiris (Liam McIntyre) survive the battle only to be thrown into the pits of ancient arenas to fight as gladiators. But, the two Greeks figure out a way to use their plight to their advantage so that they can get back to their homeland. Once back in Greece, Hercules finally accepts Zeus as his father in order to take advantage of all the gifts and powers his Godly parent can bestow upon him in order to rise up against King Amphitryon.

Shot in 3D, there are some pretty good fight sequences in the movie but much of the action is done in slow motion very similar to the widely popular film 300 that came out in 2006. Audiences that saw 300 are bound to think “been there – done that – seen that.” There is really nothing new to grasp and although a lot of money must have been spent to stylize this movie it still lacks the surprise element that many crave when they go to the theater.

The script is poorly written and the dialogue that was probably meant to be very dramatic comes out sounding ridiculous. There is also one of the silliest love making scenes ever shot in this film when an invisible God makes love to a queen withering in her bed while weird cow like sounds ring through the theater. I think this scene was meant to be magical but winds up hysterically funny instead. There is no chance to absorb what is happening in the storyline because there is so much quick cutting from scene to scene making the movie feel very jumpy.

Then there is the poor CGI. In one sequence Hercules fights a ferocious lion but unfortunately the lion looks more like a large stuffed animal that should be on display in a child’s room. There is also a lot of floating stuff moving across the screen which I am guessing was supposed to be a lovely reminder that state of the art 3D camera work was used, but instead the airy objects just get distracting and annoying.

Movie audiences are enthralled by recent handsome beefy leading men such as Chris Hemsworth, Christain Bale, Henry Cavill, and even the rather small-boned Andrew Garfield. Each of these actors not only look good on screen but also can actually act and add a ton of charisma to the superheroes they play, giving moviegoers a real incentive to see them in films. Sadly for the hunky Kellan Lutz, he just does not hold a candle in acting ability compared to his counterparts. Lutz comes across extremely flat and boring and completely lacks the luster of someone playing a half man/half God-like being that can’t be harmed by anything. Perhaps some acting lessons along with personal training lessons will get Lutz’s career off the ground so he does not just have to rely on his physique and good looks.

Films like Gladiator, Spartacus and 300 make up just a small collection of warrior films of days gone by that are actually very engaging and extremely well done. The Legend of Hercules does not stand in the same company and will be quickly knocked out of the arena. Anyone wanting some campy cheesy fun may enjoy this absurd take on a story made famous by Greek mythology. Another option maybe to save your movie dollars and take a gamble on the summer blockbuster movies coming up that surely will be better than this weak attempt at making an epic warrior/superhero film.

THE LEGEND OF HERCULES opens January 10, 2014

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