THE LEGEND OF HERCULES
MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5)
Kellan Lutz as HERCULES
Gaia Weiss as HEBE
Scott Adkins as KING AMPHITRYON
Roxanne McKee as QUEEN ALCMENE
Liam Garrigan as IPHICLES
Liam McIntyre as SOTIRIS
Rade Serbedzija as CHIRON
Directed by: Renny Harlin
BY KEVIN CARR
With few exceptions, I’m a bit of a sucker for Renny Harlin as a director. Sure, he’s made some downright awful movies like “The Covenant” and “The Exorcist: The Beginning,” but most of his films have a certain amount of enjoyability to me. Yes, even movies like “12 Rounds” and “Mindhunters” are films that I have enjoyed watching.
“The Legend of Hercules” is his latest effort, which had the predictable January release date. Not only did it come out in theaters ahead of Dwayne Johnson’s higher-profile hero tale, it managed to hit DVD and Blu-ray earlier as well. This might be a good thing considering the star power of Johnson would surely trump that of Kellan Lutz.
Though it had a tough time finding an audience in theaters, “The Legend of Hercules” still wins some points from me. This is probably because of my standing as a Renny Harlin apologist, but I’ve come to terms with that.
Kellan Lutz stars as the legendary Greek demigod, and the film tells his story from conception and birth (thanks to a cheeky Zeus getting it on with his mother). Shunned by his human father and hated by his half-brother, Hercules is torn from the woman he loves and sent on a suicide mission to Egypt. He manages to survive and become a gladiator, finding his way back to Athens to rally the people against the tyrant king and take his rightful place on the throne.
It’s been a while since I studied Greek mythology, not really digging into the legends since high school. I’ll be the first to point out that my knowledge of the real myths behind Hercules are pretty spotty. Sadly, I probably rely on old Steve Reeves movies on “Mystery-Science Theater 3000” more than I do Edith Hamilton’s accessible seminal book about the subject.
However, that doesn’t matter. This is the Hollywood version of Hercules, shot in the overused style of Zack Snyder’s “300.” “The Legend of Hercules” benefited a bit form the fact that it was the first of many sword-and-sandal movies in 2014, preceding “Pompeii” and “300: Rise of an Empire” in the marketplace.
As a popcorn-level action film, “The Legend of Hercules” can be fun. The 3D conversion looks pretty good on the home screen, lending itself to the effects in the battle and action sequences, particularly in the climactic battle featuring lightning whips and leaps over flames.
Don’t check this movie out for the acting, however, because that part of the equation is terrible. We either have overacting from Scott Adkins as Hercules’ human father King Amphityron or the vacuous delivery of Herc’s girlfriend Hebe (Gaia Weiss). It’s a real feat for a film to make Kellan Lutz look like a decent actor because of the poor acting around him.
Still, I doubt anyone’s seeing the film for the acting, and few are even seeing it for the “Twilight” juju that Lutz brings to the screen. As a forgettable Saturday afternoon flick, “The Legend of Hercules” can work, but it’s not the top of any heap.
The 3D Blu-ray set includes both the 3D and 2D versions of the film, which are interchangeable on a single disc, making it much easier to manipulate than other pushy 3D titles I’ve seen. There’s also a Digital HD version of the film through UltraViolet.
The features are a bit thin, especially for a film that had a lot going on behind the scenes. Still, you get a commentary from Harlin and Lutz as well as a standard “The Making of The Legend of Hercules” featurette.