The Legend Of Hercules follows the mythical Greek hero Hercules, the son of Zeus, who is blessed with extraordinary strength as a half-god, half-man. Banished by his stepfather, the king, Hercules slowly becomes aware of his true origins as the son of Zeus. As he learns to harness his demi-god powers, Hercules gathers an army to fight his way back to his kingdom in this action-filled epic.
Betrayed by his king, this is the story of a prince who becomes a slave, a slave who becomes a gladiator and a gladiator who defies an emperor.
No, wait! That's 'Gladiator.'
Discovering the courage to face an unjust ruler, this is the story of a man whose passion enchanted the heart of a woman, whose bravery inspired an entire nation, and whose heroism defied a tyrannical king.
Hold on! That's 'Braveheart.'
How about: this is the story of a betrayed but lonely strongman with mild hints of narcissism who defies the authority of his king and performs great feats of strength, like killing a lion with his bare hands . . .
What the . . . ?! Again, that's a whole different movie. That's the plot to Cecil B. DeMille's 'Samson and Delilah.' Alright, let's try this again.
This is the mythological and celebrated tale of a man who accepts the fact that he is the son of a god after suffering horrendous torture at the hands of a powerful ruling class and inspires a people . . .
Dagnabbit! That's also from another movie and done a helluva a lot better at the hands of one Mel Gibson.
If you haven't taken the hint yet, let me explain. This is supposedly the origin story of the Greek mythological hero, Heracles, or as the Romans and all of western civilization now known him, Hercules. Yet, much of the script, which took four writers, one of which also serves as this disastrous failure's director, to finally realize, largely feels like an amalgamation of other epic sword-and-sandal flicks. Some moments even come close to being near rip-offs, like the scene of a chained and badly whipped Hercules turning to the sky, declaring his faith to Zeus and asking for forgiveness. Granted, these glaring similarities are pretty hilarious, making the awful film somewhat bearable, but it also leaves me wondering how it ever made it to theaters in the first place.
And of course, there's also the fact that the original story of Hercules predates all those just mentioned by at least several centuries, which leads us to the proverbial chicken or egg question. Are these modern tales of heroism subconscious retellings of a familiar myth, or this revamped adaptation unconsciously (possibly intentionally) borrowing from them? While I personally have my theories, especially to one story in particular, I have to say that ultimately, this is a bad movie no matter where the inspiration comes from. The entire production seems to suffer from limited resources, yet the producers somehow managed to spend $70 million, to make a reasonably big-budgeted flick feel like it were made exclusively by Asylum Entertainment and equally as bad.
Other than the surprisingly good stage design and art direction, it's difficult to imagine where all the money went. However, one thing is definitely clear: producers opted for the cheapest cast they could find. Kellan Lutz stars as the titular character, and it's obvious the hulking mass of muscle was not chosen for his line delivery or ability to win our sympathies. We now know why he spent much of his time in the 'Twilight' films mostly in complete silence. And things don't improve much when Liam Garrigan plays Hercules' conniving brother Iphicles like he were twisting an imaginary moustache between his fingers, Scott Adkins as the hero's evil stepfather King Amphitryon is wasted delivering grandiose, pompous monologues, and Gaia Weiss is a weary stereotype as the blubbering, endlessly whimpering Hebe, essentially, a discount Helen of Troy.
Since we're on the subject of bargain movie productions, Renny Harlin ('A Nightmare on Elm Street 4,' 'Die Hard 2,' 'Cutthroat Island') offers his services, delivering yet another massive box-office flop. Although not quite close to his best-known record-making failure, I would venture this as far worse in terms of story and execution. At least, the tale of swashbuckling pirates was somewhat amusing, but 'The Legend of Hercules' is absolutely boring and incredibly tedious. Harlin must have been watching all of Zack Snyder's movies, especially '300,' because the constant use of slow-motion during action sequences are near carbon copies of Leonidas's battles. About the closest thing this production comes to originality is when Coolio makes a cameo appearance as a gladiator.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Summit and Lionsgate Home Entertainment bring 'The Legend of Hercules 3D' to Blu-ray with a flyer for an UltraViolet Digital Copy. The Region A locked, BD50 disc contains both 3D and 2D versions of the film and is housed inside a blue, eco-cutout case with a glossy slipcover. After several skippable trailers, viewers are asked to choose between either version and then taken to a menu screen with full-motion clips and music.
Shot natively in 3D using a combination of the Red Epic and the 3Ality Technica 3D rig, Hercules flexes his might and brute force on Blu-ray with a fantastic and oft-amazing MVC MPEG-4 encode. Wide and long shots are particularly impressive, displaying large, expansive views that show a clear separation between the background and foreground information. This creates a realistic sense of distance and spatial difference from one object to the next, which penetrate deep into the screen, providing viewers with a sometimes overwhelming and immersive feel of depth. Indoor sequences also feel ample and spacious while several gimmick shots, mostly reserved for the action, frequently and amusingly break the fourth wall.
Presented in a 2.40:1 framed window, the high-def transfer also comes with crisp, brilliant contrast and pitch-perfect brightness. Adding to the photography's already excellent dimensionality, blacks are luxurious and inky rich, never engulfing the smallest object hidden in the deepest, darkest portions of the frame. Definition and clarity are top-notch with distinct, fine lines in the costumes and surrounding foliage. The production and stage design are particularly shocking, revealing the tiniest etching and blemish in a variety of interior sequences. Primaries are sumptuous and vivid while secondary hues fill the screen with life and warmth. Flesh tones appear healthy and accurate with incredible lifelike complexions. Only minor point of complaint are the few instances of banding and very light posterization which keep the presentation on this side of perfection.
The 'Legend' raises a violent, thunderous storm with this wild, reference-quality DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that'll leave the house feeling bruised and battered for some time after.
Right from the start, the movie opens with a sweeping, immensely wide soundstage as King Amphitryon invades and conquers yet another kingdom by force. With an impressively broad and extensive mid-range, imaging is richly detailed and all-encompassing as arrows, spears and huge balls of fire move between the three channels with ease. Even hand-to-hand and sword battles explode with incredible clarity, allowing for every clang, clink, clash and crash to resonant and penetrate deep into the back of the room. Amid all this, dialogue remains crystal clear and precise in the center from beginning to end. Although it doesn't reach the ultra-low depths, the bass is powerful and palpable with excellent, booming response that potently complements the thundering action. (Check out the graph here to see just how low the bass goes. Thanks goes to maxmercy and nube of data-bass.com.)
Rear activity is a consistent array of noises and commotion that keep the room alive and exciting. During the most action-packed sequences, of which there are many, the surrounds erupt with flawless panning and directionality. The yells of soldiers and the screams of civilians fill the room while a flurry of debris flies everywhere and buildings crumble to ruins. Grand speeches inside auditoriums echo throughout with incredible acoustical realism, and large boulders attached to Hercules by chains swoosh and whiz from the front to the back with awesome accuracy. Quieter moments are also kept busy with the subtle, ambient sounds of wildlife and rustling leaves, making this a satisfyingly effective lossless mix.
'The Legend of Hercules' will go down as another legendary failure from director Renny Harlin, in large part because it borrows heavily from other movies for a one of the oldest stories ever told. Aside from feeling like a copy of a copy, it's a tediously dull exercise on the patience of moviegoers with bargain-bin performances and action, but at least, it all looks pretty. The Blu-ray arrives with a stunningly beautiful video presentation and reference-quality audio. Supplements are lacking and poor, and the overall package is a sad case of bad flick, good disc.