'The Legend of Hercules': At least special effects are beefy

Kellan Lutz is Herc, banished, taken captive, and fighting as a gladiator to get back to Greece before his beloved marries another.
Kellan Lutz is Herc, banished, taken captive, and fighting as a gladiator to get back to Greece before his beloved marries another.
Posted: January 12, 2014

It's always a B-film bonanza when Greek myth meets Hollywood high-tech. 'Twas ever thus, since Jason and his Argonauts sailed Ray Harryhausen's wine-dark seas through the kraken's release in Clash of the Titans.

Do not the gods deserve the best special effects we can lavish upon them? By Hera's hairy lip, they do!

They also probably deserve a cohesive plot and dialogue that clarifies rather than confuses, but in The Legend of Hercules, they'll have to settle just for the special effects.

Here's the CliffsNotes version (which they really should pass out as you enter the theater): It's 1200 B.C. and Hercules (Kellan Lutz, who looks like the late Paul Walker on industrial-strength steroids) is banished to Egypt by evil King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins). There he is taken captive and must fight as a gladiator in order to make his way back to Greece before his beloved (Gaia Weiss) is forced to marry another man.

It would seem director Renny Harlin has been watching Spartacus on cable, because the battle scenes borrow the show's slow- and stop-action style. The copious bloodbath of the TV series is avoided entirely. In fact, you won't see a drop spilled in The Legend of Hercules, though many people die violent deaths.

You will, however, see Liam McIntyre, the actor who replaced Andy Whitfield as the hero in Spartacus. Here he plays Sotiris, Herc's wingman and tag-team partner.

Except for one rampage at the end, Hercules doesn't really display much raw strength. Mostly, he seems indestructible, taking three arrows in the chest as a minor annoyance. But his father, Zeus, does give him a crackling electric whip like the kind Mickey Rourke had in Iron Man 2.

The Legend of Hercules may not track, but Harlin still knows how to set up a rousing circus.


MOVIE REVIEW

The Legend of Hercules ** (Out of four stars)

Directed by Renny Harlin. With Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins, and Liam McIntyre. Distributed by Summit Entertainment.

Running time: 1 hour, 38 min.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (violence, mild adult themes)

Playing at: area theaters


dhiltbrand@phillynews.com

215-854-4552

@daveondemand_tv

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