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Review: 'The Legend of Hercules'

Glenn here with a look at a new release that will not be troubling Oscar in 12 months.

Hercules, son of Zeus, was gay. Or at the very least bisexual. He had to be if Renny Harlin’s The Legend of Hercules is anything to go by. Those ancient Greeks weren’t exactly shy about it, so in that regard it’s a shame Harlin’s oiled-up reboot of the Hercules mythology didn’t go further with the homoeroticism that is inherent in the material of pretty much any Hercules production (Disney animation excluded). As Daniel Walber writes at film.com, “the [sword and sandal] genre lives and breathes through the muscled bodies of often scantily-clad actors.” Ain’t that the truth. And in The Legend of Hercules there are buff, barely-clothed bods galore. And beards. Lots of beards, too. I wasn't complaining.

The Legend of Hercules places former Twilight star Kellan Lutz front and centre after a small part as Poseidon in Tarsem Singh’s equally flesh-obsessed Immortals so any genuine exploration of homosexuality between sparring partners was a no go. Still, judging from how close Harlin situates his male actors faces from one another – and the stone cold fact that Lutz has more romantic chemistry with the ridiculous handsome Australian actor Liam McIntyre than his so-called love interest Gaia Weiss – it’s impossible not to see it. And then there’s the gay BDSM lair, the mud-wrestling, and the limp-wristed villain played by Liam Garrison… if this film were actually fun we could have been looking at a new camp classic.

Sadly, that’s not the case. The Legend of Hercules is an appalling display from every angle. It’s of little surprise that the aforementioned McIntyre (left) is the only one to equate himself nicely with the material since he’s also worked on the TV series Spartacus. Lutz, looking like a roided-up flesh monster is genuinely terrible. Given he’s worked as a model, it’s probably not surprising that he hasn’t the slightest clue on what to do with his face with not in glamor shot close ups. We’ve spoken a bit lately acting with the whole body, especially in relation to Scarlett Johansson’s performance in Don Jon, well here Lutz acts with nothing. His face frequently contorts into strange blobs of seemingly CGI-enhanced mess. The alarming throbbing veins on his upper-torso give more realistic performance than this lunkhead slab of beefcake, and when the editing allows us to look at him for longer than a single unobstructed second, his prominent 3D nipples attract more attention than anything else.

Harlin had the chance to do some interesting action sequences, too, but flubs them up time and time again. A cave-bound ambush lacks logic, a Gladiator-style arena fight is drab and over in a flash, while an elevated stone maze fight with two Mad Max rejects is cut so furiously it’s hard to tell what’s happening at any given moment unless Harlin decides to ape Guy Ritchie’s infuriating slow-down-speed-up technique that is utilised for no reasons whatsoever. And because an audience’s eyes are not allowed a moments rest, Harlin then proceeds to fill almost every scene with confetti, or rain, or floating curtains like it’s The Great Gatsby. And then there’s the – no kidding – pollen. I got hayfever just watching Lutz and Weiss coo at one another at a lake infested with floating flower dust. Presumably just so that every single inch of the screen has something going on at all times. And in ugly 3D, too.

After this ridiculous, boring, occasionally laugh-out-out worthy catastrophe of a flick, I’d be fine without going back to the Hercules well again for some time. Hollywood has other ideas of course, and another one is on the release schedule for March. At least that one stars the charismatic Dwayne Johnson, but with a title like Hercules: The Thracian Wars it will likely be another drearily gritty take on the material that fails to recognise 300 was seven years ago now. They’re a bit late to the party. Or judging from the bodies on display, rather they're late for the gym. D

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Reader Comments (12)

Isn't Zack Snyder more infamous for the "slow-down, speed-up" thing (particularly on 300 and some moments of his Watchmen movie) than Guy Ritchie?

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Wish I could say I was surprised that this was bad. but I'm not. Oh well, I expect the version with the Rock to be a slightly better film, but probably in the way Gonorrhea is better than Herpes, both are bad, but Herpes is way worse.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBee

lol at Bee's post

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Kellan Lutz = the best rack in Hollywood.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJase

I'll wait for The Rock's version.

January 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Jase, while he's never been my type, I found the over-stressed veins of his upper-torso to be quite offputting. That being said, he's got the biggest breasts of anyone in the film, which is fitting.

January 10, 2014 | Registered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Considering the declining state of antibiotics, I may prefer the gonorrhea to the herpes. Then again, I would also prefer Kellan Lutz as Hercules to The Rock. Hopefully I avoid all four though.

January 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJestifer

I just watched this today, it's so bad it makes Immortals look like an epic. I hope it doesn't kill this genre for us, when Pompeii and 300 sequel coming in the next two months.bad

And I agree with you, though I knew they will never make Hercules or Sotiris gay I was secretly hoping they do. The dream kinda crashed when Sotiris said he's going back to visit wife and son. What a waste! Boring and conservative way of delivering the story. But hey, not everyone's Darren Aronofsky.

January 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

I think Kellan Lutz, like most of the Twilighters, was considered something of an actor to watch before those movies. I think mostly on the basis of Generation Kill. Then, he went ioverbosrd bodybuilding to try to be the next Arnold, but Joe Manganiello seems to be more respected there.

January 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

I've been warming more marshMALLOWS for you in the pocket of my dungarees!

January 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTim

When the credits started, the woman next to me asked me: Did you like the movie? I found the lion looking really fake. I replied: That is your only problem with the movie? And we both laughed

Plus points: Kellan Lutz body, nice costumes, beautiful lake, the girl, McIntyre and the oracle

The rest was a disaster. I was hoping for a surprise orgy but hey I don't think the director wanted any herpes or gonorrhea

And Kellan Lutz made Keanu Reeves look like a versatile actor, so yeah Lutz is good in something though

January 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

I'd still give this movie a try.

March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEzio

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