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"THE LEGEND OF HERCULES"
(2014) (Kellan Lutz, Liam Garrigan) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Fantasy Action: The half-son of Zeus overcomes treachery, deceit, and being sold into slavery to defeat an evil king and win the heart of a princess.
PLOT:
Amphitryon (SCOTT ADKINS) is a power-hungry young king who leads his troops into the kingdom of Argos and defeats its king. Realizing that her husband is becoming a ruthless, blood-thirsty dictator devoid of compassion, his wife, Queen Alcmene (ROXANNE McKEE), agrees to become pregnant with the son of the god Zeus and raise the child to one day defeat Amphitryon.

Flash-forward 20 years later, and her son Hercules (KELLAN LUTZ) is a magnificent young warrior who loves Princess Hebe (GAIA WEISS) of Crete. Amphitryon, though, has arranged with the King of Crete for Hebe to marry Amphitryon's petty, unremarkable first-born son, Iphicles (LIAM GARRIGAN), in a bid for further conquest. When Hercules tries to run away with Hebe, he is captured and sent on a mission that Amphitryon has arranged for him to be killed on. He is not and is instead sold into slavery along with the good-hearted family man, Captain Sotiris (LIAM McINTYRE).

The two become gladiators and eventually fight their way back to Greece. Hercules is reunited with Hebe and becomes a folk hero of sorts for his god-like strength. Soon, he is rallying downtrodden villagers everywhere to join him on his crusade to defeat Amphitryon and return order to the land.

OUR TAKE: 1 out of 10
Something happened at my preview screening of "The Legend of Hercules" last night that has never happened before in my nearly two decades of reviewing. U.S. marshals descended on the theater and apprehended a wanted fugitive! Oh, we the audience members were perfectly safe. In fact, most of those in attendance didn't even know the incident went down. Why? Because the marshals didn't stop the film and bring up the lights to get the dude. They didn't wait until afterwards as we were streaming out of the theater. Get this. The guy apparently got up about 20 or so minutes into the film to go to the bathroom and he walked right into their hands.

Lucky guy! At least he didn't have to sit through the rest of the movie!

And, you know, I kind of feel sorry for the guy. Sure, he should have been tipped off when the one tall marshal announced aloud, "Alright, I want a hard target search of every cineplex, megaplex, duplex, complex..." OK, that really didn't happen. But, still, to be nabbed while watching THIS movie?! That's gotta be humiliating when they toss him in the ol' pokey. I hope he lies and tells his fellow inmates that he got caught while at "American Hustle" or "The Wolf of Wall Street."

Yikes, what a bad movie, folks! To paraphrase Michael Jackson, "You know it's bad. It's bad. Really, really bad!" Badly cast; badly acted; badly staged, shot, and edited. It's bad on pretty much every level a movie can be. Everyone in it looks like they're standing in for better actors. The terminally bland Kellan Lutz stars as the title character, the half-son of Zeus who falls in love with Princess Hebe (Gaia Weiss, giving just a ghastly bad performance), who his petty half-brother, Iphicles (Liam Garrigan), wants to marry in order to unite two rival kingdoms. To rectify the situation, Hercules is sent on a suicide mission by the evil King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), ambushed by a force a dozen times the size of his small platoon, and presumed dead.

He's not, of course. He's just been captured, sold into bondage, forced to fight in gladiator games, chained up as a rower on a massive slave ship, and saved by a crooked gambler who sees in him much potential as a gladiator. So, yeah, basically we are regurgitated "Gladiator," "300," and "Ben-Hur" in the span of about, oh, 20 minutes ... but, hey, in eye-popping 3-D.

From there, the film becomes the cheesiest, most self-serious sword-and-sandal fight-fest you can imagine. It also becomes completely unbelievable just from a basic visual perspective because of the constraints of its PG-13 rating. Hundreds of dudes are freakin' slaughtered during this flick. I'm talking stabbed, sliced, diced, speared, gored, impaled, whipped, beaten ... name a violent act that can be committed against the human body pre-gunpowder, and this film delivers it. And yet there's not a lot of blood! It's the strangest thing. Every single cut, gut, slice, and dice is done from angles that twist and turn the bodies being mutilated away from camera so we don't see the spurts and bursts of blood and guts. It's absolutely ridiculous.

There are even whole slaughter scenes where director Renny Harlin doesn't even care and just shows characters getting skewered with no blood coming out of the wounds. And there is a scene late in the film where a character gets stabbed. We see the blade go completely through the body and into another. Incredibly, because the character does not die! The guy behind who got maybe a quarter-inch of the blade dies! But the one who took the whole blade? Just a flesh wound.

It'll take me longer to recover, folks. They really Lutz-ed this one up. I give it a 1 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed January 9, 2014 / Posted January 10, 2014


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