ByBenjamin Marlatt, writer at

The story begins on the night Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) gives birth to a child conceived from an affair she had with Zeus. The gods say the boy shall be named Hercules. Alcmene’s constantly pissed-off husband, King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), says otherwise, naming him Alcaeus.

Twenty years later, Alcaeus (Kellan Lutz) falls in love with Princess Hebe (Gaia Weiss), yet she has been bound to an arranged marriage by Amphitryon to his son, Alcaeus’s half-brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan). This creates some not-so brotherly love which leads to Alcaeus being banished into slavery.

Betrayed by his step-father and half-brother, Hercules vows to avenge the wrongs done to him by taking back his kingdom.

Like 2013, where we had two similarly themed “White House taken over” films with the mediocre Olympus Has Fallen and the horrendous White House Down, 2014 has two Hercules movies: this one and Brett Ratner’s Hercules: The Thracian Wars, starring Dwayne Johnson, which comes out in July. Brett Ratner by no means gets me jumping up and down when I hear he has a movie coming out, but compared to this film, his movie will be making out like a bandit.

You know, why beat around the bush? This film was crap.

Right from the opening scene, my first thought was how the hell did this get a theatrical release? No joke. That’s a serious question. You could put a blindfold over my eyes and I could still pinpoint each and every spot in the movie where someone’s standing in front of a blatantly obvious green screen background. In fact, they probably had the cast walk into a Wal-Mart family portrait center – wearing the bed sheets they also got from the store’s Home Department – had the photographer lay down a backdrop and then the director shouted “ACTION!” You thought X-Men Origins: Wolverine was bad? That’s Inception compared to this. These special effects have Syfy network smeared all over them, and to think this film had a budget of $70 million.


Care for some perspective? Hellboy cost only $66 million and Pans Labyrinth, by far Guillermo del Toro’s most visually stunning film, cost only $19 million. Did the filmmakers here set 95% of the budget on fire?

Director Renny Harlin has mostly shot out miss after miss for me, but he has delivered a few goods during the 90′s with Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Cliffhanger, and Cutthroat Island.

Whoa – wait a minute. I thought I told that last one to get out of here?

Here, Harlin is like that kid in the toy store with a filming technique that, like shaky-cam, was cool when it was first utilized, but now has worn out its welcome: slow-motion cam. Slow-motion cam worked in films like The Matrix and 300 ’cause they were never overused and were choreographed excellently. Pretty much every single fight sequence here is just someone throwing a punch and tttthhhheeeennnn iiiitttt ggggeeeettttssss rrrreeeeaaaalllllllllyyyy sssslllloooowwww,,,, bbuutt tthheenn it speeds back to normal. Rinse, wash and repeat. I know your films have been mostly stinkers, Renny, but seriously, that’s the only technique you got in your bag?

Then there’s the acting and between that and the horrible dialogue, I probably had the most entertaining time out of everyone else – all six other people – in the theater. Laughing at the attempted romance was probably not this film’s intention though.

Kellan Lutz is most remembered from the Twilight films and is the next one from that young cast to try and break away from the film series. The closest I’ve seen of him in a lead role was some chick flick with Mandy Moore on Showtime I woke up to at 6 AM one time. It sucked, or at least I think it did. I fell back asleep at some point during it. If this performance is any indication, though, he better hope Stephenie Myer’s got another book in the series planned. When you compare Lutz to this summer’s Hercules – well, Dwayne Johnson will have more charisma when he’s dead than Lutz does here. Even when he’s shouting he’s got the same stone-dead look in his eyes. It’s like his mouth is telling me, “ARGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!”, but his eyes are saying, “…………….”. Yeah, I get it. All the girls are gonna go nuts anyway ’cause he’s shirtless most of the time. I guess it doesn’t matter then if you handed Lutz a paper bag and told him to “act his way through it”.

Speaking of shouting, I gotta mention Scott Adkins, ’cause both he and Liam Garrigan as the villains are so over-the-top, they make Beetlejuice look like Raymond Babbitt. Adkins and Garrigan probably thought, “Well, we’re playing villains, so maybe if we just yell our lines all the time, it’ll convey the point of how evil we really are.” Sure, Gerard Butler yelled a lot in 300 (THISISSPARTAHHHHH!!!!), but at least he gave Leonidas some life and character. Garrigan just comes off as a spoiled and whiny little brat and Adkins grunts and groans his way through all his lines like he’s passing a kidney stone. With his clenched teeth and bulging neck veins, it’s like Amphitryon suffers from a condition where every word that comes out of his mouth causes him to crap out a sideways turd.

If there’s any bright spot in this film – and by bright spot, I mean a small crack – it’s Liam McIntyre (best known from Starz’s Spartacus) as Hercules’s friend Sotiris. He’s really the only one in this film (aside from Rade Serbedzija in a much smaller role) with any real acting chops. He somehow kept a straight face for the entirety of this film – a task much easier than the one I had in trying to stifle my laughter.

This is January for you, folks. That time of year where Hollywood squats down over every theater in America and takes a giant dump. Here’s your proof: a film that’s a ripoff of Gladiator, 300 and pretty much every other sword and sandal epic. I didn’t even like Troy, but Troy’s Ben-Hur when stacked next to The Legend of Hercules. The acting is abysmal, the dialogue is laughably cheesy, the special effects look like they were purchased from a Dollar General and the fight sequences are obnoxiously repetitive. If you wanna give this a watch, be my guest. You might even get to avoid a ticket price ’cause I guarantee you this film will be in a Redbox and Wal-Mart checkout lane near you before I even finish this review.

I give The Legend of Hercules a D- (½★).

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