The Legend Of Hercules – Review


One of the now-archetypal commerical-directors turned action-movie-helmers, poor Renny Harlin has never quite recovered from the legendary Hollywood disaster that was Cutthroat Island; proving once and for all that you can be as good an action director as you like, but once you manage to bankrupt an entire studio (holding onto the Guinness World record for biggest flop for seventeen years in the process), no one’s really likely to return your calls. Going by what he’s churned out with The Legend Of Hercules, it shows too.


A hodgepodge of bits from other sword-and-sandals adventures, Harlin’s Herculean tale (the first of two this year) stars Twilight…erm, star…Kellan Lutz as the titular son of Zeus; here spawned of a prayer by his mother to the god Hera as a way of freeing the world from the tyrannical rule enforced by his would-be human father King Amphitryon. Flash forward twenty years and our hero finds himself ousted by his jealous half-brother, Iphicles, and sold into the world of slave-fighting, where he… y’know what, why bother? You’ve seen this movie a dozen or so times, you’ll predict every movement of the drawn-out mess it calls a story and the whole affair is so unengaging that even referring to it as “47 Ronin with fake tan” would be to do it a service it doesn’t deserve.


Long since declared a box office bomb in the US, The Legend Of Hercules has the misfortune to have been released days after the trailer for The Rock’s Hercules and a mere four weeks after 300: Rise Of An Empire, the latter of which may have been poor but still runs circles around this rather uninspired venture. It’s clear that Lutz must have seen the project as something akin to Batman Begins by way of Gladiator, but the sad reality is that he has no leading man presence whatsoever. Struggling with the now-typically stilted dialogue that all of these fantasy epics seem to indulge, Lutz is so hilariously devoid of any kind of charisma or stature that it’s hard not to picture Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kevin Sorbo slapping each other on the back somewhere, bent over in shared hysterics.


Doing his best impersonation of Oded Fehr meanwhile, Scott Adkins tries his best to inject some snarling Rickmanesque life into Amphitryon, but ultimately it just feels rather damp and ineffective. Elsewhere, Liam Garrigan seems to be putting every ounce of effort imaginable into making a credible threat out of Iphicles, but no matter how much he can make his eyes twitch, he’s frankly about as terrifying as you’d imagine a coked-up Reece Shearsmith to look. As for Roxanne McKee as Queen Alcmene, it’s an uphill battle from the start; ignoring the reality that the 2007 Inside Soap Awards winner for Sexiest Female is a thirty-three year-old woman playing someone with an apparently twenty year old son, she seems to be under the gravely mistaken belief that what she’s actually appearing in some kind of serious project, genuinely striving to do some “acting” with both a character and an entire film that’s simply so laughably bad it buries her alive without much considerable effort. McKee is far and away the best thing about The Legend Of Hercules, but don’t let that for even a second fool you into thinking she’s any good in it.


The agonisingly poor performances and script aside, it’s nigh-on impossible to see what’s happening half the time. Released in 3D overseas, the film’s UK release is mercifully spared the format, yet still looks like it’s been shown as such thanks to countless nighttime scenes so badly lit that they appear simply as drawn-out dialogue-filled sequences of silhouettes. Coupled with a standard of sound-mixing that borders on deafening, it’s a hellish experience just to sit through the film; the end result being comparable only to watching shadow puppets whilst continually having an air horn blown in your face.


Amidst all of this however, is Renny Harlin. With absolutely none of the directorial flare you’d expect from the man behind The Long Kiss Goodnight; The Legend Of Hercules is, at best, an incoherent mess and, at worst, the schizophrenic work of someone whose talent clearly went down with the pirate ship (see Cutthroat Island). In the past eighteen years, the only film of any worth to have come from Harlin is – hilariously – the WWE action-thriller 12 Rounds, a sad notion that more or less condemns itself. Every year in film has its unrivalled turkey – not the biggest financial loser, but the absolute worst movie of the year – and so far for 2014, The Legend Of Hercules not only takes the crown, but dances the jig and plants itself unrivalled on the throne. A visibly alphabet affair from the start, it amounts to a fallen A-list director with a B-list budget directing a C-list film with a D-list cast. 


All of which is an overly elaborate way of saying it’s rubbish.



Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.


In it
Kellan Lutz, Scott Adkins, Roxanne McKee

Behind it
Renny Harlin

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