Can someone please explain to me when we decided Kellan Lutz should be the lead in theatrically released movies? He had a secondary role in some Twilight films and now we’re trusting him to play Hercules? I mean, he’s got the physique, and it’s not like a role like Hercules is one that requires great acting skill, but he’s so lacking in charisma and acting talent that it shines through even in a terrible movie like The Legend of Hercules.
Lutz plays our hero, Hercules, for whom there is a legend, so proclaims the title. Hercules’ mother, Queen Alcemene (Roxanne McKee), is given a baby thanks to Zeus, which angers her husband, King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins). That’s how Hercules was conceived. Years later, and he’s grown into a fit young man, and has found true love in Hebe (Gaia Weiss). But, because the King is our villain, he instead declares that Hercules is going to go away and fight a battle, and in three months Iphicles, his real son, will wed Hebe. Hercules proclaims that he’ll be back by then and will slaughter anyone who stands in his way. Or something.
So, he leaves, is ambushed, winds up going through a miniature “be a slave and earn your freedom” storyline, and then begins to rally troops to overthrow his “brother” and “father,” because they’re evil because reasons. Thus is the titular legend of Hercules. It’s stupid, it’s silly, we never have any doubt that Hercules won’t succeed in his quest — it’s called The Legend of Hercules, after all — and it doesn’t provide anything worthwhile for anyone involved.
The Legend of Hercules doesn’t even succeed as a brainless action film. The action scenes have been edited to the point of incoherence, and they’re all bloodless PG-13 anyway. Hercules fighting six “undefeated” warriors should be entertaining, no yawn-inducing. But it winds up being the latter, because we struggle to tell what’s going on and struggle even harder to care. It’s rare that an action movie can bore someone as much as this one does. There’s usually at least the visceral thrill of watching dudes get beat up by other dudes, but even that’s missing.
The romance doesn’t come across as a strong motivator, primarily because it’s poorly written and because Kellan Lutz can’t sell it. Most of the romantic scenes are so cringeworthily bad that you’ll want to stop watching because of them. The action doesn’t balance that out, either. In addition, despite having a $70 million budget and no really expensive stars, The Legend of Hercules looks extremely cheap. I’ve seen direct-to-DVD films that look more expensive than this one.
I suppose I could see how this film could look good on paper. Hercules needs to rally up the people in order to overthrow an evil king. That might not be as interesting as those Labors of Hercules that you hear about every now and then, but at least it’s something. However, The Legend of Hercules comes across as incompetent and dull from its earliest moments, and about the only way one can get enjoyment from it is to watch at home with some friends and make fun of it from start to finish.
I’ve already spoken on how Kellan Lutz should not have been Hercules, or the lead in any movie that requires a little bit of charisma, so let’s move onto the other actors, none of whom show the least bit of talent. You have to wonder if they figured out really early on that The Legend of Hercules was going to be awful, so they just did the bare minimum to get by. That’s what it feels like here. Or perhaps director Renny Harlin, who has been in the business a long time and whose best movie might be a Nightmare on Elm Street sequel, just doesn’t know how to direct actors. It’s possible.
The Legend of Hercules is a cheap-looking and meaningless movie with bad action, terrible romance, poor acting, and a story that might work on paper, but as directed by Renny Harlin plays out horribly. There isn’t any reason to watch this movie, except to make fun of it with friends or use it as a sleep aid. There’s no intentional joy to be gained from sitting through it.