By Shane M. Dallmann
Oh, come on… this isn’t fair! It’s only JANUARY… we’ve got ALL YEAR to find the worst film of 2014… why are you starting your lineup off with your unbeatable champion???
Look, I knew this wasn’t going to be great. In fact, I had planned to skip it completely. But I found myself with unanticipated hours to kill yesterday and there was really no viable alternative. So, to my own disbelief, I actually bought a ticket to THE LEGEND OF HERCULES. In 3-D, even. And now that I HAVE seen it, I’m sorely tempted to suggest that you do so, too–just so you can say that you did. You know, the way I did with BATTLEFIELD EARTH and I KNOW WHO KILLED ME.
It’s so rare that a movie lets you know that you’re in serious trouble from the VERY FIRST SHOT. The CGI soldiers clanking swords and hurling spears? Well, let’s be fair. If this WERE a video game, I’d give it high marks for its graphics. But this isn’t a video game. This is supposed to be a $70 million (!!!!) epic motion picture. You know–a REAL, NON-ANIMATED MOTION PICTURE.
Anyhow, never mind what this battle is all about (there’s some rushed explanation or other), but the long and short of it is that some nasty warrior or other (Bert Bonklefonk) conquers the King of Argos and takes over the kingdom, much to the chagrin of his arranged-marriage wife, who prays to Hera for delivery. And oh, does she get it. Hera scarcely resembles a goddess, she’s more of a wispy whiner who agrees to let Zeus cheat on her for the sake of fathering a champion destined to rescue the kingdom, etc. etc. You never see Zeus. But his invisible form bonks the queen in a sequence sure to make you howl (that’s one way to keep your PG-13… another way is to cut away every time someone falls on a bed of spikes, which they do twice in a row, but that’s another story).
Anyhow. King Nasty isn’t happy about this, but to keep up appearances, he raises the new baby under the name of O-Cedar (though the queen and Hera know his name is REALLY… ) and declares him inferior to his simpering, jealous older half-brother Proctologus (Scratchy Von Bumcakes).
Twenty years later, O-Cedar (Puffy McPickle) is “secretly” dallying with the Princess of Crete (Cookie LaSchputz), who’s been promised to Proctologus. The “unkillable” Nemean Lion shows up and is killed by O-Cedar in about thirty seconds, but the snarky older brother takes credit for it and claims the princess while O-Cedar is sent off to Egypt to do battle. He and his buddy the soldier captain (Quincy Boomsplat) survive a planned massacre and get sold as tag-team mud wrestlers, eventually working up to a big tournament where O-Cedar stands alone against six unbeaten fighters (five men and a woman) and kills five of them (the other way to keep a PG-13 is to have the good guy incapacitate, rather than kill, the woman).
King Nasty doesn’t like any of this, so he and Proctologus strike back, while the guy who doesn’t want to be known as Hercules FINALLY accepts his heritage and gets his super-strength when everyone in the audience who believes in fairies claps their hands. But he STILL won’t use his superpowers on King Nasty–he wants to fight him mano a mano with his regular “man” strength. And apparently the ancient Greeks invented the saying “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Really. King Nasty invokes it around this point.
THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (originally publicized as HERCULES: THE LEGEND BEGINS, even though it certainly won’t continue from here) comes to us from director Renny Harlin. Now, I know what you’re thinking–his name has been synonymous with “box office death” for quite some time, but he HAS made some terrific movies, and rarely have I accused him of being sloppy or incompetent. THIS time, I was desperately searching the credits for the name “Uwe Boll.” Yes, it’s THAT bad. THAT. STAGGERINGLY. BAD. The story was an afterthought, the effects are cheesy, the performances… ugh, that coy, “aw shucks” romantic smile the guy I simply can’t call “Hercules” keeps giving the princess… the fight scenes are all MATRIX-y (they freeze-frame each and every leap, somersault, etc.).
Why the hell didn’t they just re-release the Lou Ferrigno HERCULES on the big screen. It would have done just as well and “been” just as good (I’m not quite ready to say that about the sequel–even I have standards). If you DO go to experience this awesome awfulness, however, you may as well spring for the 3-D, because that’s the one thing that was less than lousy… some decent arrow/spear in your face action, and one pretty good sequence involving the swinging of huge stones attached to chains.
And now I’ve said every possible good thing I can say about this movie. I immediately followed it up with my one-week-delayed viewing of the latest PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Review to follow. The worst thing about that is that I had to sit through the I, FRANKENSTEIN trailer two more times in one day.