Saturday, January 18, 2014

Greek Mythology Meets "Bro" Culture: A Review of THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (2014)

 The Legend of Hercules (2014)

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Imagine if someone took the love triangle concept from TWILIGHT and stuck it in a movie that took all of the bad slo-mo from 300 and tried to imitate GLADIATOR. That's pretty much what Renny Harlin's LEGEND OF HERCULES tries to do. If that combination sounds unappealing to you, then I think you know where this review is headed...

Trying to sum up the plot of HERCULES is enough to make one's brain melt, so I think I'll just give you what Millennium Entertainment (the film's distributor) used on its IMDB page:
In Ancient Greece 1200 B.C., a queen succumbs to the lust of Zeus to bear a son promised to overthrow the tyrannical rule of the king and restore peace to a land in hardship. But this prince, Hercules, knows nothing of his real identity or his destiny. He desires only one thing: the love of Hebe, Princess of Crete, who has been promised to his own brother. When Hercules learns of his greater purpose, he must choose: to flee with his true love or to fulfill his destiny and become the true hero of his time. The story behind one of the greatest myths is revealed in this action-packed epic - a tale of love, sacrifice and the strength of the human spirit.
That's a pretty classy description for a movie where a dude in a loincloth literally chokes a horribly-rendered CGI lion to death with his bare hands.

The film is filled with bad dialog, wooden acting, and the most laughable slow-motion action moments that I've seen in years (seriously, I think there is one every minute or so). I suppose if you like watching a horse splash muddy water in extreme slow-mo, then you may dig this movie. Hell, even up-and-coming action star Scott Adkins (one of the only good aspects of films like UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING), who plays the evil King (and main baddie) in the film, is a bore. However, he does deliver one of the most hilariously bad lines I've heard in years when, during a final climactic battle with HERCULES, he screams, "Come at me, Son!" Seriously... I couldn't make that up.

Of course, none of this is really all that surprising, when you consider that Director Renny Harlin's track record is spotty at best; with his most recent output bordering on outright bad. In fact, I think the last Harlin-directed feature that I actually enjoyed was 1999's DEEP BLUE SEA. That movie may have just been a B-Movie disguised as a Summer Blockbuster, but it was a lot fun and almost infinitely rewatchable - two things that HERCULES certainly is not.

Don't get me wrong, Harlin is a competent director. The movie flows okay, and for a movie that tries to achieve an epic scope, Harlin has enough sense to reign things in to keep the running time under 100 minutes. The cinematography is also decent, and the score is amiable. The problem really is that the whole thing is just silly.

I suppose, in a way, that almost works for HERCULES. I actually found myself chuckling aloud at various points throughout the entire film. Of course, none of those moments were meant to be funny, but the film is just so straight-faced and serious about such absurd things. In fact, I'd almost go so far as to say that it may be the kind of movie that is so ridiculous that I could find it growing on me over time. Truth be told, you could make a fabulous drinking game out of it (one drink every time some guy pumps his fist and screams with his mouth wide open, etc).

In the end, though, I can't in good conscience recommend THE LEGEND OF HERCULES. If it ever pops up on Netflix Instant and you happen to have a bunch of booze lying around, maybe it'd be worth a watch. However, use your $10 to go and watch something else for now. 

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