The Legend of Hercules
Fulfilling his destiny requires a Herculean effort for this mythical demigod
NOTE: This movie is also called Hercules: The Legend Begins
By Shawn O’Neill
This origin story of Hercules, the half-man/half-god character, begins with Grecian soldiers storming the city of Argos. King Amphitryon (played by Scott Adkins) has been conquering around the known world and decides to impress his wife by taking the city. So he challenges the Argos King to a one-on-one fight. When Amphitryon wins he returns to his wife, Alcmene (played by Roxanne McKee), but as usual she is less than enthusiastic with his accomplishment. The couple disagrees on much, especially religion. While Alcmene believes in the gods, her husband does not.
One night while Alcmene is praying to Hera, the goddess appears to the queen to test her and see if she will be a good mother. After she is satisfied, she tells Alcmene that Zeus will come to visit her. The child the god makes in her womb is to be named Hercules. Yet just as the unseen Zeus is leaving the bedchamber, Amphitryon enters and is jealous with rage. When the child does arrive, the angry Amphitryon decides the boy shall never be the equal of his older brother.
Twenty years later finds the two siblings coming of age. King Amphitryon is still powerful and Queen Alcmene is still praying to her gods. Hercules (played by Kellan Lutz) and Hebe, the Princess of Crete, (played by Gaia Weiss), have fallen in love and hope to be married. When the pair returns to a feast that is being held to honor Crete, Amphitryon betroths Hercules’ brother Iphicles (played by Liam Garrigan) to Hebe instead. Although the lovers try to flee, they are caught and brought back to the King. Amphitryon then sends Hercules away to control a rebellion in Egypt—making secret plans to ensure the young prince does not return. (Sorry for the spoiler.)
This clumsily constructed film features dialogue that does not work in some places (the audience should not be laughing at a love scene). The 3-D effects were also very distracting, for instance when floating pieces of clearly fake plants, that look something like dandelions, cover the screen trying to create a romantic feel. The love story does not feel authentic, and ends up within a makeshift bedroom built in a thicket. Both characters are covered by sheets, but the real show seems to be Lutz’s muscular (and of course shirtless) physique. We do see a lot of Hebe’s skin too, in a side view.
The movie contains some violence as well, undoubtedly intended to attract male viewers. Again, the 3-D effects are not great, even when the action gets fast. There are many over-the-top sequences including characters crushed by stones, thrown around on chains, shot by arrows, stabbed and branded. Gladiator style games are part of the story, but there is no blood shown during these fight scenes. This keeps the production within a PG-13 rating.
Some of the characters’ names make it difficult to follow the plot, plus there is not much taken from the actual stories of Hercules. The demigod does kill the Nemean Lion in the film, but none of his other acts of bravery are represented—unless we count building a forest bedroom out of sticks! I was hoping for much more, yet I fear the filmmakers were trying to do too much for too many. It seems they wanted to provide a good date movie with love and action to appeal to both genders. Unfortunately, trying to please that bigger audience hurts the film and will probably end up not pleasing very many at all.