The other Hercules movie this year – The Legend of Hercules – makes its debut on iTunes (out now) & DVD/3D Blu-ray on 4th August, but what’s different about it?
The Legend of Hercules, not to be mistaken with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s new theatrical release Hercules, made its debut in cinemas earlier this year. Formerly known as Hercules: The Legend Begins, the film was critically panned and suffered a disappointing box office effectively killing its potential as a franchise. It’s original title, now seeming like a hopeful cry for a sequel or two, has left egg on the face of distributor Summit Entertainment who have to concede defeat in the battle of 2014’s Hercules movies.
Although it’s still early days, if anyone’s getting a sequel it would appear to be Dwayne Johnson and Paramount Pictures/MGM’s attempt, with reviews being slightly better and box office receipts suggesting the film will at least make most of its $100m budget back. Most satisfying for the filmmakers is the generally positive audience reaction.
But as an interesting examination of two very different depictions of the mythical character, director Renny Harlin’s The Legend of Hercules is well worth checking out. Perhaps, if nothing less, to see how an origin story (so popular in Hollywood right now) can go horribly wrong.
The film follows Hercules (played here by Kellan Lutz) after he is exiled and sold into slavery having being betrayed by his stepfather, the King. With a backdrop of forbidden love, Hercules must use the significant powers he possesses to battle back to his rightful place in the kingdom.
Despite many critics finding fault with the film, A.O. Scott of the New York Times was wholly forgiving, saying The Legend of Hercules “delivers what it promises, which is muscular guys in skimpy clothes fighting and howling, as well as some large-scale digitally enhanced battle sequences.” Stephanie Zacharek of the Village Voice concurs: “You could ask for more – an actual script, maybe? – but Harlin covers most of the basics. Or, perhaps more accurately, he leaves them uncovered.”
Yet these positives are few and far between. Most critics found the film derisible with the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator showing a distinct leaning towards The Legend of Hercules being a complete bust. Its summarised consensus says that the film is “cheap-looking, poorly acted, and dull,” adding it’s “neither fun enough to qualify as an action movie nor absorbing enough to work on a dramatic level.”
Ouch! With its box office performance seeing it fail to make its $70m budget back, this 2014 effort is another Renny Harlin bomb to go along with one of the biggest financial movie disasters in history – Cutthroat Island – which he also directed.
But if you haven’t seen it for yourself, now might be the time. Just don’t say you weren’t warned! The Legend of Hercules is released on DVD and 3D Blu-ray from 4th August and is available now to download via iTunes.
This post is sponsored by Lionsgate but all thoughts are those of the author