Aside from the horror genre and films based on comic book characters, my favorite subject matter is mythology. More specifically, Greek mythology and or history. Movies like Troy, Clash and Wrath of the Titans, hell, even the Disney version of Hercules are all some of my favorites. This is why I was extremely excited to finally check out Renny Harlin’s quest into the mythos realm, The Legend of Hercules.
Tyrannical King Amphitryon will stop at nothing to take over every kingdom he can, even if it means killing off every other king, one by one. In order to stop his mad reign, his wife, Queen Alcmene, prays to the goddess Hera for an end to it all. Hera obliges in the form of a ‘gift.’ This gift just so happens to be a newborn son, by the hands (and other parts…ahem) of the father of all gods, Zeus.
Years later, when Hercules, now known as the prince, Alcides, is all grown up, the king sends him off to a battle that cannot be won, setting the young prince up for a certain death. Hercules does not die, however, and must now find his way back to Greece to stop his brother from marrying the love of his life, Hebe, and take revenge upon his deceitful stepfather.
The Legend of Hercules actually plays out like a cross between Gladiator, The Passion of the Christ, and The Incredible Hulk. Now, that may seem like a strange combination, but I actually enjoyed this film. It may not be the best Greek (the Greek mythological name for Hercules is actually Heracles) mythology film released over the years, but it definitely has a certain level of entertainment that allows you to just sit back and have some fun.
I thought the acting in this film, although corny at times, was done fairly well. Any time you get a cast of actors to portray ancient Greeks (and Egyptians, among others), the accents and other language cues are going to be off. They won’t sound authentic, but that’s just fine. We know this after seeing so many films covering similar topics over the years. I feel that Kellan Lutz was actually a really good choice for the lead role of our hero and dare I say, I believe he will be a better Hercules than the almighty Dwayne Johnson. I have my doubts about The Rock playing Herc, but I will have to wait a see who wins this battle until that film is officially released, as well. For now, my bet is on Kellan. He has done a ton of films, but nothing like this, so he is obscure enough of a choice to make him a fresh face, while still delivering a muscle-bound actor with the ability to duke it out with the rest of the cast/stunt men.
The effects in this film are a mixed bag; A lot of the fight sequences and especially the 3D work were all done very well. I loved the flying arrows coming straight for me, and I thought the scene where Hercules finally realizes his strength was fun as all hell. The parts with which I had somewhat of a problem were the largely scaled city shots. These scenes of complete Greek villages just seemed unfinished, lacking the detail that you’d see in films like I mentioned above, Clash of the Titans or Wrath of the Titans. I can’t blame the budget for the film because $70 million is quite a bit of change to be allotted. Maybe it was just a poor choice of effects studios? Who knows, but I have to assume that the Paramount/MGM Hercules film coming out later this year is going to look way better, in this regard.
Overall, I feel this story is entertaining to experience, the acting was good enough to get you by, and the fight scenes were pretty great, although there was virtually zero bloodshed (sorry to all of you gore fiends out there). I recommend The Legend of Hercules to anyone who enjoys mythology films and who has an open mind about a new entry in the Hercules film library. Additionally, tt’s great to see how far Renny Harlin has come from his work on movies like Prison. You have to respect that, if you take nothing else from this film.
I give this movie 3.5 Nemean lions out of 5.