The Legend of Some Guy (The Legend of Hercules, 2014)

Hercules_Legend_PosterYears ago Queen Alcmene for her husband’s lust for power terrifying and pledged to Zeus to bear his son, with the purposes of ending the King’s reign.  Their first born, Iphicles, grows up to be a selfish brat, jealous of his more loved younger brother.  Hercules seems oblivious to his brother’s petty nature, even allowing him to publicly take credit for Hercules deeds. Hercules is happy as long as he has the love of the beautiful Princess Hebe.  But one night, the King announces that she is to be married to Iphicles.  Hercules and Hebe run away together, but are caught.

As punishment, Hercules is sent to Egypt with a regiment of the army.  There, they are ambushed and only Hercules and General Sotiris survive.  They are sold into slavery and end up fighting in gladiator combat.  They use this to get back to Greece so he might save his beloved.  But once they return, it becomes clear that he has a larger destiny.

Part of this is learning to accept his status as a demi-god and embracing Zeus as his father, which he rejects earlier in the film. Oddly, while the film presents the gods as very much real, we never meet a human visage for any of them.  They move through the elements and speak through flesh and blood humans.

To be honest, this film represents a problem I see in attempts to bring myths to film in modern films.  These films seem more influenced by movies than their original stories. The Legend of Hercules feels like a direct to video sequel, and it’s inspirations are all based in films.  This is more of a Gladiator meets 300 (with a scene borrowed from the story of Sampson).

It is incredibly dependent on every action scene doing that “picture pauses mid action, but camera is still moving” effect.  It happens repeatedly during pretty much every action scene.  The end result is a loss of any real identity for the film, rather looking like a knockoff of better works.

Lutz’s Hercules is not a particularly exciting take on the character.  Sure, he is impressively muscular, but that is about it.  The story the filmmakers tell hardly echoes the rich history of the character.  Sure, there is a bit where he fights a lion…

And mind you, it is not wrong to decide to tell an all new story…but then the new story will have to rise to meet the expectations set by the legend.  And this film does not manage such a feat.

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