Mania Review: The Legend of Hercules -

Mania Review

Mania Grade: F

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  • Starring: Kellan Lutz, Liam McIntyre, Scott Adkins, Liam Garrigan, Roxanne McKee and Gaia Weiss
  • Written by: Sean Hood and Daniel Giat
  • Directed by: Renny Harlin
  • Studio: Summit Entertainment
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Series:

Mania Review: The Legend of Hercules

Never a Sorbo around when you need one...

By Rob Vaux     January 10, 2014

The Legend of Hercules (2014)
© Summit Entertainment

I wish I could say The Legend of Hercules was the awesome sort of awful, where you have a blast watching the hideous incompetence unfold before your disbelieving eyes. Sadly, it’s a much more pedestrian awful, the kind of resolute badness that makes you idly wonder if you shouldn’t just slip next door to catch the end of The Hobbit. Certainly, its badness is impenetrable: smothering you like an asbestos blanket and listening with grim anticipation as you labor for breath beneath it. But while the RiffTrax boys should be able to eat it for lunch, the rest of us are left with a drab, incompetent pile of cow flop that elicits nothing but tired sighs.

There’s a point early on when we might hope for better things. Hercules (Kellan Lutz) and his evil brother (Liam Garrigan) tackle the Nemean Lion, or at least a poorly rendered CGI version of the Nemean Lion (actual lion content may vary). It’s silly and it comes out of nowhere, but for a moment there’s hope that they might actually follow the format of the Twelve Labors. It’s January after all, and a few goofy monsters can go a long way. But no monsters appear. The lion was just a cheap tease and director Renny Harlin (the man who brought us Cutthroat Island) soon abandons the classic mythology for a poorly realized Spartacus rip-off. He even ports in once and former Spartacus Liam McIntyre to act as Herc’s best bud, allowing them to slash their way through the gladiator pits of ancient Greece in the most shameless emulation of a preexisting property this side  of Mac and Me.

“But to what end?” You ask. Damned if I know. There’s a sprinkle of find-your-destiny mythology thrown in, along with a standard-issue revolt-against-the-dark-tyranny-that-rules-this-land rescue plot. But Harlin struggles to assemble the pieces from the first shot, hampered by just about every aspect of the production you can name. The script resembles one of those FOR COMPARISON PURPOSES ONLY examples in a cheap screenwriting class. The sets and visual effects would embarrass Ed Wood.  The editing was apparently performed by a tribe of crazed colobus monkeys. And we’re reminded once again that nothing makes you appreciate good acting more than bad acting… especially bad acting from the entire cast. I haven’t seen an assembly chow down on the scenery en masse like this since Battlefield Earth. (McIntyre alone manages to salvage some shred of dignity.)

Even that would be okay if it at least generated some interest. But the precise combination of incompetent elements create a sort of black pit of boredom from which no hope can escape. You find yourself studying the pores on lead’s face – do they resemble unmentionable parts of a cat’s anatomy? –  in vain hope of avoiding actual engagement in the “story.” We don’t even get the simple pleasures of camp, since The Legend of Hercules betrays neither sufficient self-awareness nor over-the-top bombast to really let us sink our teeth into it.

To top it all off, the film’s copious violence remains almost infuriatingly chaste, smacking of overt meddling to reach the PG-13 sweet spot. It wants to be an R so badly, and yet it prudishly insists on cutting away from the gory bits right as sword meets gut. It couldn’t get more annoying if your mother rushed in and yelled at you to turn that filth off. The same goes with the sexuality, marked mainly by scenes of Lutz romping with his leading lady (Gaia Weiss) that resemble hard-core porn as directed by Ned Flanders.

It should be hysterical. Instead it’s merely depressing, a sad hiccup of cinematic waste that can’t possibly vanish from our memories quickly enough. Thankfully, it’s not the last Hercules movie coming out this year, and it’s hard to imagine the Dwayne Johnson version sinking any further than this one. The Legend of Hercules probably won’t even last until next week, when a new batch of third-rate genre tripe will drive it from the screen. One prays that its successor will do a better job of… well, anything really. There’s nowhere to go but up for 2014, the only decent thing that this wretched excuse for a movie ever gives us.


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mrdjspaz 1/11/2014 8:40:34 AM

Hercules movies always turn out crappy. The only good versions are Disney and Kevin Sorbo!


Sanity 1/11/2014 8:44:55 AM

 No surprises here.

jedi4sshield 1/11/2014 9:15:34 AM

I have no Doubt that Dwayne Johnsons version of Hercules is gonna kick ass!!!

acidsquall73 1/11/2014 9:17:17 AM

I saw a sneak preview of it the other night. The tone made it feel like a cheap knock off of the original Clash of the Titans. The fight scenes were ok, but I hate when movies have these scenes and just as the kill shot is about to drop, the camera cuts to the expression on the person's face. That's all there was in this. And the 3D was literally too in your face half the time. The only time it actually looked cool was in the beginning when there were flaming arrows going back and forth at you and from behind you. That was actually impressive. Everything else was just a spear jab here and a sword thrust there.

Harlin has done much better work. Die Hard 2 and Deep Blue Sea are always fun to watch. But this was just not good. I'm glad I didn't actually pay for the ticket.


Wiseguy 1/11/2014 11:20:28 AM

I was leaning towards seeing this but the scene with Herc. swinging the cement blocks made it look like styrofoam.

Maybe if I manage an early matinee I'll check it out


Woodye 1/11/2014 12:56:43 PM

Yeah I don't get how he can swing long are the freaking chains they are attached to? Much easier to throw them instead.  Anyhoo...I have to say this reviewer is being wasted on a site like this.  He clearly needs to be reviewing movies for Yahoo.  :D

BunyonSnipe 1/11/2014 5:00:31 PM

The problem is they always have to candy coat the story, Herakles/Hercules is a great tragic figure, from his birth right up to his extremely painful death...

Hercules was an utter bastard, but he is one that we want to succeed because he is the lesser evil in the room and Hollywood just can't have him be anything but the hero, hopefully the other film will be better, but that one is set in a more realistic world, so I doubt it...

I would like to see a small budgeted version of the Herakles story from a director who is not afraid to show his bad side...

SmokingFrog77 1/12/2014 5:04:52 AM

Rob Vaux - the Avenging Angel of film critics - sends more fire from the heavens to smote the undeserving! :D

DarthBob 1/12/2014 5:28:41 AM

Looks like a movie you'd see on the SyFy channel.  Typical January garbage movie release.

violator14 1/12/2014 8:48:03 AM

 How do movies like this even get greenlit, and then even get finished for that matter. 

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