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Article by Teddy Durgin

Hercules: A Legendary Failure

Something happened at my preview screening of "The Legend of Hercules" last week that had 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 guy. They didn't wait until afterwards as we were streaming out of the theater. Get this: the dude apparently got up about 20 or so minutes into the film to go to the bathroom and walked right into their hands! To that I say... lucky guy! He didn't have to sit through the rest of the movie! And, you know, I kind of feel sorry for him. OK, 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 deeply atrocious 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." It's been a while since I've seen a movie as bad as this one, folks. Badly cast, badly acted, badly photographed. Bad on every single level a movie can be. Everyone in it looks like they're standing in for better, more recognizable actors. The woefully limited Kellan Lutz is 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 back at the kingdom. He's not, of course. He's just been captured, sold into bondage, 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 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 descends into pure rotting cheese. The laughably bad moments just pile up. My favorite involves a massive arena (terrible CGI, by the way) in which a single fight announcer stands in the middle with no megaphone, no amplification whatsoever, and yells out the event card listing of who will be fighting. And the screaming crowd of tens of thousands reacts to his every word... even those in the way-distant cheap seats! Earlier in the film, we get an opening prologue focused on Hercules' mother agreeing to lay with Zeus and bear his child. The film then flashes forward 20 years, and there has been no attempt - NONE! - to age the actress at all. And who thought of naming Hercules' main love interest "Hebe" (pronounced Hee-bee)?! I kept wanting someone in the film to acknowledge this bit of silliness. I wanted someone to announce her as "Princess Hebe... from the kingdom of Jebe!" The film is also completely unbelievable just from a basic visual perspective due to the constraints of its PG-13 rating. Hundreds of dudes are slaughtered during this flick. I'm talking stabbed, 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 is almost NO 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 the camera so we don't see the spurts and bursts of blood and guts. It's one of the most ridiculous things I've seen in a long, long time. Ugh. They really Lutz-ed this one up.

"The Legend of Hercules" is rated PG-13 for intense battle scenes, violence and some scenes of sensuality.

 

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