Sunday 16 November 2014

The Legend Of Hercules (2014) - Movie Review

The story of Hercules and his Twelve Labours is one of my favourite ancient legends, so much so that the only good essay I ever wrote back in high school was on it and the reasons behind the longevity of the story. It's a tale that has been adapted numerous times before and with good reason: It's a great story with lots of potential, full of action, cunning, darkness and redemption. However, even with that in mind, I find it kind of odd that we got not one but two movie adaptations of it this year alone. We’ve had Hercules starring Dwayne Johnson, which took a different spin on the story and looked more at the idea of Hercules being a literal legend, something I found quite fascinating. True, it didn’t completely succeed at that idea, and it had more than a few narrative issues, but overall it was a decent watch. Prior to that, we also had today’s film which is a relatively more straightforward telling of the origin of Hercules.

The plot: Hercules (Kellan Lutz) is in love with Hebe (Gaia Weiss), a woman betrothed to his brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan). Upon objecting to her marrying his brother, Hercules is sent to battle by King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) and is captured as a slave. With everyone back home believing him dead, he must fight his way back to Greece and bring the reign of Amphitryon to an end, fulfilling his purpose as a gift from Hera to destroy the King.

As much as I don’t want to take the easy route and just bash the male lead because he had a major role in the Twilight films… Good God, you’d be hard-pressed to find a less charismatic portrayal of Hercules anywhere. He shows all of no emotion in every scene, whether he’s rousing his army for battle or hearing of his mother’s death. Speaking of rousing his army, he has that little charisma that I doubt he could get one guy to follow him in a conga line, let alone an entire army against their king. I had a lot of similar issues with Sullivan Stapleton as Not-Leonidas in 300: Rise Of An Empire, but at least his character had good blocking in the sex scene (No, seriously, that fight-fucking scene is the best part of the whole movie). Hercules here is called Alcides more times than he is Hercules, and there’s probably a reason for that.

Speaking of Not-Leonidas and 300, it's kind of amazing how badly this movie wants to be 300. From the fight scenes that also make heavy use of speed ramping to the costume design that is near identical, to the fact that King Amphitryon looks exactly like Leonidas; this can’t all be coincidence. Well, talk about fighting above your weight class, because this is nowhere near that good. For starters, the effects work is absolutely awful. I mean, this is Asylum-level crap right here and sometimes falls short of even that. The green-screening is outright laughable and makes most internet shows look like Avatar; any scene that involves actors falling looks horrible. The CGI and practical effects look just as bad; there’s one scene where Hercules and his brother are fighting the Nemean Lion and it looks like a friggin’ sock puppet. We also get some mediocre fight scenes; sure, they do a lot to ape 300’s camera work but none of the brutality or finesse. Admittedly, there is a cool moment when Hercules uses an enemy soldier’s bow while it’s still on his back, but nothing else works in that regard.

One of the best parts of the story of Hercules is the wide variety of tasks he has to undertake, not to mention the strength and cunning needed to carry them out. I mentioned before that the Nemean Lion is in this, and unfortunately it is the only thing from the Twelve Labours that we see in this movie. To make matters worse, when Hercules does kill the Lion, his brother takes credit for it and it's never mentioned again. You know, Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules didn’t even really do any of the Labours he claimed he did, but even then, we still got to see most of them. No such luck here; instead we get a very generic love story with bland supporting characters (alongside our very cardboard main character) that has several moments where it tries its hardest to sound lyrical with its dialogue, but instead comes across like high school poetry writings.

The legend itself is all sorts of mangled here too, with Hera actively wanting Hercules to be born and allowing Zeus to impregnate Hercules' mother. That, on its own, is so far removed from pretty much every other telling of the story that it is astounding. Yes, I know that variety is needed especially with a story this well-worn, but don't replace what we've already seen with stupid. How Hercules finally gets his divine powers is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the laziest plot points I've seen in any movie.

All in all, this is all kinds of bad: The effects, the acting, the writing, the direction; it all sucks.

1 comment:

  1. This movie was exactly what I expected it to be but I did enjoy watching it.