The Legend of Hercules

Directed By: Renny Harlin

Starring: Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins, Roxanne McKee, and Liam Garrigan

2014 is the comeback year for the sword-and-sandal picture.  Just look at the lineup at the box office in the coming months.  Russell Crowe will be building an ark to prep for some major floodwaters in Darren Aronofsky's Noah in a couple of months.  Christian Bale will be asking Pharaoh to let his people go as Moses in Ridley Scott's Exodus in the fall.  We've even got two Hercules movies this year, one of which has just arrived in theaters.  It's looking like a good year for this niche genre.  However, there is one problem, and that's this weekend's The Legend of Hercules.

King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) is a callous and cruel tyrant to the extent that his own wife Queen Alcemene (Roxanne McKee) prays to the gods that they may end his reign of terror.  The goddess who answers her prayers is Hera.  Aware of her own husband Zeus's infidelity, Hera tells Alcemene that she will bear the son of the king of the gods and that this son shall end Amphitryon's reign.  The goddess also proclaims that the child shall be named "Hercules".  At night while Alcemene is resting in bed, she is impregnated by a divine presence.  Amphitryon witnesses this but believes there is another man in the room.  To spare himself embarrassment, he lets Alcemene have the child and names him Alcides upon birth.  Regardless, Alcemene knows his real name is Hercules.

Twenty years later, Prince Alcides (Kellan Lutz) is all grown up, and he's found love with Hebe (Gaia Weiss), a young princess from another kingdom.  Prince Iphicles (Liam Garrigan), his elder brother and heir to the throne, doesn't quite see things the way Alcides does.  He hatches a scheme to wed Hebe and unite two kingdoms.  When he announces the pending nuptials with Hebe, Alcides and the princess try to flee, but they're caught.  As punishment for his transgression, Alcides is given a rather slick death sentence.  Since Amphitryon never liked the boy anyway, he sends him with a unit of eighty soldiers to march on the armies of Egypt.  With victory impossible, Amphitryon is sure he's gotten rid of this symbol of Alcemene's infidelity.  He doesn't realize that Alcides is actually the son of Zeus and that this young demigod will soon embrace his destiny as Hercules.

When the hell did Hera ever enable Zeus's cheating on her?  When did Alcemene become a queen?  When did Chiron lose his centaur blood and become a full human being?  Director Renny Harlin is pretty fast and loose with Greek mythology in The Legend of Hercules.  For the uninformed viewer who watches the film for its pointless 3D action sequences or Twilight star Kellan Lutz, this might be fine.  For the rest of us (i.e. your average moviegoer), this is absolutely ludicrous.  It doesn't help that the film is riddled with horrific acting, clunky writing, and cheap visual effects.

The cast in The Legend of Hercules is painful to watch on screen.  I haven't seen acting this bad in ages.  Whether Kellan Lutz and Gaia Weiss are declaring their endless love for one another or the male actors are grunting and groaning in battle, the acting makes me sick to my stomach.  The writers don't help them out either.  With cheesy dialogue and an aimless plot, the cast admittedly does not have that much material with which to work. 

The Legend of Hercules is the first film of 2014 to earn a wasted rating and very deservedly so.  It's an all-around terrible cinematic experience.  If you dare torture yourself with this one, you'll have to make a Herculean effort to get inebriated enough to endure this 100 minutes of mindlessness.  Some moonshine should get the job done.