Let me give you some history. In 4th grade, I wrote my first real research paper on Hercules. I watched Hercules: The Legendary Journeys before it was popular. I am like the biggest fan of this mythology so I put off watching this movie because I knew it was going to destroy everything I loved. I finally decided to watch it, but I went in knowing that it was going to be horrible.
Spoiler alert: It was.
Kellen Lutz (Twilight) stars as our title character. He is love with this princess (Gaia Weiss), who is supposed to wed his brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan). Everyone basically hates him and his father suspects that he’s not actually his, so the father (King Amphitryon, played by Scott Adkins) sends him away to war, hoping he will die in the process. Hercules befriends an army sergeant (Liam McIntyre) and they then try to win the war and return home.
Now, let me tell you that this is not part of the mythology. This is all a storyline created by these writers.
Liam McIntyre, as army sergeant Sotiris, is the only worthwhile actor in this film. But he is on such another level that it feels awkward when he’s around because he actually has the gravitas that you’d look for in a movie like this. Samuel L. Jackson is great but he’d definitely stand out if he were cast in The Notebook. Think of it that way.
And occasionally the fight scenes would be pretty cool but the magic faded fast. Which we’ll get to.
What doesn’t work?
Alright, get ready for this.
Let’s begin with the writing. There is such a plethora of actual mythology that involves Hercules that you shouldn’t need to create something. The only one of Hercules’ infamous labors that was included was a fight with the Nemean Lion, a lion so fierce that metal could not pierce its skin. So Hercules chokes it to death. It could have been amazing, but this bout was ridiculous. The CGI lion was embarrassing. The dialogue throughout the movie was atrocious, especially the forced romantic plot. Just gag me already.
Visually, there were a few missteps. They tried to replicate the 300 style of combat, where things down down dramatically at key points. But they used this trick 4,000 times, losing all effect that it had. Do you see the header image I used, in the rain? It slowed down just then, to showcase rain falling super slow. The CGI was horrible and they used amateur tricks to try to fool you into thinking the battlefield was full of people. During this huge battle at the beginning of the film, it would pan from fight to fight but always conveniently cross a pillar or bridge and you could tell there was a cut, so it was likely the same group of extras. I mean, I know sometimes you have to do that, but we (as an audience) shouldn’t take notice.
Did I mention the forced romance made me want to die?
Okay now… I’m going to spoil a few things, but only because I love you. At one point, lightning shoots down from the sky and Hercules flings it around like a whip. What? At another point, he’s chained to these two pillars so he pulls them down and uses the pillars as weapons, flinging them around the battlefield. What? The CGI failed in both these instances and even the kid behind me in the theater was laughing.
Here’s a few things to help you cope.
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys is on Netflix. It may be dated but the CGI is probably just as good as this movie was. There exist videogames like God of War or even Dragon’s Dogma that can give you a better action experience in a world like this. You could rent movies like Wrath of the Titans and get your fix, even though the movie is still subpar.
And soon, later this year even, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is starring in his own version of Hercules, so you can look forward to that hopefully erasing all memory of this Twilight-ified garbage.
PS. Did you know Ryan Gosling starred in the spinoff Young Hercules? The more you know.
Don’t. Liam McIntyre’s decent performance and a few cool action shots aren’t worth the other hour of painstaking torture. Just don’t.