The Legend of Hercules (2014)

Hercules (2014 film) poster.jpg
Less godly, more of a slog

Director: Renny Harlin
Running Time: 99 minutes
Starring: Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins, Liam Garrigan, Liam McIntyre

Cinematic history has a precedence for multiple films with a similar plot being released within the same year. This years example is Brett Ratner and Dwayne Johnson's Hercules, which is released on July 25th, and one of the first films to be released in 2014, Renny Harlin and Kellan Lutz's The Legend of Hercules. Judging by the latter, Ratner and Johnson will emerge victorious as the superior tale of the Greek hero.

Hercules, the son of Greece's queen, is betrayed and exiled by his stepfather, the King, due to his forbidden love with a princess who has been promised to his brother. So far, so Jeremy Kyle. Only Hercules is actually the son of Zeus, gifted with powers and a greater purpose to overthrow the Kings tyrannical rule.

Kellan Lutz is a poor choice for the lead role, showing little charisma in a bland performance which has fewer expressions than a tree stump. Liam McIntyre gives one of the films few good performances in a supporting role, making it apparent that the film would have been better had McIntyre taken the lead role instead.

"I am Spartac- I mean Hercules!"

Hercules' love interest, played by Gaia Weiss, is given virtually nothing of consequence to do other than act like the typical damsel in distress and worry over relationship woes, which is wasted on the fact that her and Lutz lack anything resembling chemistry.

The script, poorly handled by four different people, makes no attempts to avoid the clichés, lazily using as many as possible, and then adds on awful dialogue that feels cherry-picked from a big book of cliché lines. But the writing is just a footnote in how to do a poor job, compared to Renny Harlins directing.

Renny Harlins guiding hand has the actors focus on shouting as loud as they can, rather than conveying actual emotion into their performance. A bigger focus is cast on the costume design rather than the fight scenes, which comes off as uninteresting and dragged out due to an overuse of slow motion. What special effects inhabit the screen are poorly rendered, with one random encounter against a Lion sticking out in particular.

It's clear that The Legend of Hercules wants to be Gladiator or 300, but where the two had style, fantastic action and a strong leading man, Renny Harlin's film lacks it all, playing with as much subtlety as an episode of Jeremy Kyle.