‘Hercules’: Welcome to January

2013 was a fantastic year for cinema and featured a wide selection of acclaimed films from various genres. If “The Legend of Hercules” is any indication of the year to come, 2014 is looking significantly bleaker.

Courtesy of Millennium Films

Courtesy of Millennium Films

With a cast that lacks any outstanding talent, a story that is predictable and tired, and a series of scenes featuring overdone special effect techniques, one of this year’s first major releases leaves much to be desired. “The Legend of Hercules” is a perfect storm of bad movie clichés and feels like a sickening combination of “300” and “Clash of the Titans.”

The story is fairly familiar. Hercules is the son of Zeus, born with godlike strength and combat prowess. However, things begin to go wrong for the half-god when he falls in love with a princess who is to be married to his stepbrother, Iphicles. Because of this, Hercules is exiled and sold into slavery, and must fight his way back to reclaim the woman he loves and earn his rightful place as the son of the mightiest of Greek gods.

One of the most upsetting aspects of the film is in the casting of the title character. Hercules is played by Kellan Lutz of “Twilight” fame, in what may be considered one of the worst leading actor performances of the year. Unconvincing and consistently dull, it becomes more and more clear as the film progresses that Lutz was cast more for his ability to look like Hercules rather than act like him. Every line he delivers sounds like a lazy Gerard Butler impression, and despite his ability to look good in a suit of Greek armor, at no point is it ever possible to take his brooding intensity seriously.

As bad as the acting is, the special effects don’t fare well either. At one point on his journey to redemption, Hercules battles a poorly rendered CGI lion that looks more ridiculous than it does threatening. Scattered throughout various battle scenes in the film are the obligatory staggered slow motion sequences popularized by “300” that look absolutely out of place in a PG-13 movie. The lack of gore in such an otherwise violent movie results in a completely watered-down experience that is about as pleasant as drinking a tall glass of warm beer.

Like the rest of “The Legend of Hercules,” the script of the film was absolutely terrible. The dialogue is stale and the supposedly “epic” moments are ridden with clichés (at one point Hercules actually utters the declaration, “tonight we fight for our lives!”) which fall totally flat. On several occasions, scenes end with a choppy transition immediately following a painfully cheesy one-liner. Without even trying, the film becomes a parody of itself with every cringe-inspiring line delivered by the lackluster cast.

One bright spot in the acting is that of Liam McIntyre, who portrays Hercules’ friend Sotiris. McIntyre, famous for his role as the title character in Starz’s “Spartacus” TV series, might just be the most talented actor on screen and is the one bright spot in an otherwise talentless bunch of performers.

With boring fight scenes, under-developed characters and an unconvincing script, “The Legend of Hercules” is a boring attempt at portraying one of the most famous Greek myths ever told. The film falls far short of its potential. Later this year, another rendition of Hercules will be released featuring The Rock in the leading role, and it will be nearly impossible for it to be as dreadful as this film was. The sub-par version of Hercules that hit theaters this weekend should leave Dwayne Johnson breathing a sigh of relief; in terms of competition, he has nothing to worry about.

 

Not Recommended: With terrible acting, an uninspired script and cheesy special effects, “The Legend of Hercules” is a huge letdown, which audiences should avoid at all costs