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