Since the dawn of cinema, viewers been patiently waiting for a director to capture that awkward moment so many of us have encountered yet has so far proved elusive on film. Yes, the moment in question is that instant when a man returns home and find Zeus banging his woman. At last, director Renny Harlin has done justice to said predicament in The Legend of Hercules, the rest of whose offerings proves just as unintentionally silly. Not that much more was expected considering the release date and conspirators, but considering the plentiful referencing taking place, one would think the results would be a little more fun.
Despite these unintentional bits of comedy, in the wake of revisionist Greek myth tales such as the two Percy Jackson films, The Legend of Hercules feels too serious for its own good. A bland, straightforward telling of the old tale, it illustrates how disenchanted Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) sought to bring peace to an unnecessarily bloody empire ruled by her husband King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins). In line with her faith in the gods, which her betrothed does not share, Alcmene encounters the goddess Hera, who, like a good mistress, arranges the aforementioned rendezvous between the sheets with her mortal-loving husband. The resultant gift is the titular son, and though his jealous fake father is driven to shun his gifts and call him Alcides, the boy has a more predictable destiny to follow.
Flash forward 20 years and is he a weakling? No, he’s as muscular as they come, portrayed by third string Twilight player Kellan Lutz. The cards stacked against him in a messy house that also includes textbook sniveling brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan), Hercules must endure being sent to certain death, sold into gladiatorial slavery, and lead a revolution to make his way back into the arms of his ain true love, Princess Hebe of Crete (Gaia Weiss). Though these scenes lend themselves to plenty of dramatic heft, Lutz botches them all and not even his bellowing variations on Gerard Butler’s “This is Sparta!” are convincing, a shame since that should be any muscly man’s forte. Consistently coming up short in even these basic heroic duties, it’s hard to believe the filmmakers considered these the best takes, but so it goes in January.
Furthermore, in what should be The Legend of Hercules’ saving grace, the plentiful fight scenes are somewhat fun and have character; it just happens to be the character of Zack Snyder’s 300. Harlin employs a similar fast-slow-fast approach in one take, usually with something deadly being whipped at unsuspecting opponents, but each iteration feels familiar. Also not afraid of a little plagiarism, Tuomas Kantelinen’s score shamelessly apes the Lawrence of Arabia music during a desert sequence and Gladiator’s whenever there’s arena fighting, suggesting that originality is nowhere in the film’s mission. Fittingly, even the 3D is a bust. Other than the fleeting hope that the film onscreen isn’t a made-for-cable production, the cardboard cutout illusion they create makes the film appear even cheaper than it already is, leaving little besides a few awkward laughs in the rubble.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense combat action and violence, and for some sensuality.
The Legend of Hercules is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.
Also why do bad English accents = ancient Greece (or Rome, or France?)
Don’t forget whatever Russian/Arabian thing ponytailed Johnathon Schaech is trotting out.
Mostly because the ancient Greeks and Romans share with the English a similar patrician nobility and layered class structure.
The trend has changed a bit recently. In “The Eagle”, the occupying Roman soldiers in Britain, normally represented by English-accented actors, were portrayed with American accents (to parallel the occupation of Iraq) while the assimilated Britons had English accents and the un-assimilated Brits spoke Scots Gaelic.
While I have not seen The Eagle, it’s interesting that they at least tried to make the accents make sense.
As much as I loved Hugo, the one thing that irked me about the film is that the actors used mostly English accents while playing French characters.