‘The Legend of Hercules’ is a disappointment

By Christopher K. Conner

The first of at least two takes on the myth of Hercules, “The Legend of Hercules,” stars Kellan Lutz as the Greek demigod. In this version of the story, the film begins with King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) storming the city of Argos. Reaching the center, he challenges the King of Argos to single combat.

Returning victorious to his camp, Amphitryon plans for further conquests. His wife, Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) retreats to a shrine of Hera to pray for peace. A priestess appears and tells Alcmene that her offering has been accepted. Becoming possessed by the goddess, the priestess tells Alcmene that Hera will allow Zeus to come to her and give her a son. The son’s name will be Hercules and he will bring peace.

The suspicious Amphitryon suspects that his second son is illegitimate and tells Alcmene that his name is Alcides and will never be the equal to his older brother Iphicles. Only Alcmene and her tutor Chiron know that Alcides is the son of Zeus.

Twenty years later, Alcides has fallen in love with the princess of Crete, Hebe (Gaia Weiss). Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) is jealous of Alcides, who seems better than him in every way. Alcides goes out of his way to take care of Iphicles, but the jealousy only grows.

In order to cement his alliance with Crete, Amphitryon has arranged for Iphicles to marry Hebe. To prevent his second son from interfering, he sends a small detachment of troops with Alcides to quell a rebellion in Heliopolis. The leader of the detachment, Sotiris, confides in Alcides that he does not understand why his command was cut in half right before leaving and that two other commands are sitting with nothing to do.

When they arrive, Alcides and Sotiris are the only survivors of an ambush and get sold into slavery. The two hatch a plan to get their owner to take them back home, where they hope to win their freedom in one last combat.

Once freed, the two men begin to foment rebellion against the king and race to stop the wedding between Hebe and Iphicles.

Many versions of Herculean mythology exist, and it is fairly common for bits and pieces from the Greek Heracles to be mixed with the Roman Hercules. In “The Legend of Hercules”, no effort was made to follow either mythology.  This is a completely distinct story that follows neither the oafish Greek Heracles, nor the more competent Roman Hercules myths.

Recognizing that this Hercules is a completely different character than the mythical demigod, the story takes bits and pieces of the traditional myths and incorporates them into a tale that could have been perfectly fine in concept. The execution, though did little to live up to any potential that may have been salvaged from the remains of myths.

Starting with the heroic lead, who was apparently hired for his musculature more than any acting ability, and continuing to the overwrought dialogue, “The Legend of Hercules” is a disappointment, even when considering the multitude of truly bad Hercules films.

Action sequences in “Hercules” suffer from the overused cgi that has cursed too many films since “The Matrix” made it popular. In parts, the relatively gimmicky 3D effects were more enjoyable because they distracted from how unfortunately poor the rest of the film was, but those too eventually became annoying.

Three new releases hit the screens in Manhattan this weekend. I certainly hope the other two made up for this one.

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