Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Legend of Hercules 2D / 3D Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
The Legend Of Hercules follows the mythical Greek hero Hercules, the son of Zeus, who is blessed with extraordinary strength as a half-god, half-man. Banished by his stepfather, the king, Hercules slowly becomes aware of his true origins as the son of Zeus. As he learns to harness his demi-god powers, Hercules gathers an army to fight his way back to his kingdom in this action-filled epic. Directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, Deep Blue Sea) and written by Sean Hood (Conan the Barbarian) and Daniel Giat (TV's "Path to War"), The Legend of Hercules stars Kellan Lutz (upcoming The Expendables 3), Scott Adkins (Zero Dark Thirty, The Expendables 2), Liam McIntyre (Starz's "Spartacus: War of the Damned"), Liam Garrigan (Starz's "The Pillars of the Earth"), Johnathon Schaech (Showtime's "Ray Donovan," TV's "The Client List"), Roxanne McKee (HBO's "Game Of Thrones") along with Gaia Weiss (Mary Queen of Scots) and Rade Serbedzija (TV's "Red Widow," Taken 2).
Film (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Usually, films of this type have a lot of mythological explaining to do but The Legend of Hercules skips a lot of that. Exactly who the Gods are and how they relate to each other is bypassed. An unhappy young queen, Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) is impregnated by Zeus after praying to the Goddess Hera. Her King Amphitryon makes it known that the child will never be the equal of his older brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan). Although the King gives the boy a name, his mother calls him Hercules.

The boys become men and Iphicles is regularly outmatched and outwitted by Hercules.  Although clearly the inferior sibling, Iphicles is his father’s son and is told to put his younger brother in his place.  Hercules (Kellan Lutz) is in love with the princess Hebe (Gaia Weiss) but it is decided that she will be the wife of Iphicles.  To ensure the union, Amphitryon sends Hercules to battle. From this point, any basis in mythology is lost as this becomes a gladiator film.  Hercules is sold into slavery where he befriends Sotiris (Liam McIntyre), the only other person to survive the ambush orchestrated by Amphitryon.  Hercules promised to rescue his love (he promised to do so in three moons).

Expectations again play a problem for me because I was told by more than one person that this was a really good movie. For me, it was needlessly complicated and I got bored with it. It made me want to watch Gladiator, 300 or Troy to get my fill of battles by men in short skirts and sandals.  For a little mythology, I’d pull out Percy Jackson.  Better yet, I could get both with Clash of the Titans.  This film tried so hard to be epic that it failed to generate real emotion or connection between characters. If you aren't rooting for the guy to get the girl in the end, what’s the point of a love story? If the action isn't larger-than-life then there isn't much to hold on to. 
2D Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)   3D Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Legend of Hercules is presented on Blu-ray 3D and 2D in 1080p and a 2.40:1 ratio.  The film relies heavily on green screen effects and they are acceptable, but obvious overall.  The color palette changes in an effort to add visual interest.  Skin tones are even and accurate but contrast has occasional issues. The 3D version offers a better visual experience as director Renny Harlin includes some obvious gimmicky 3D effects like object pointed at the viewers, but there's also some nice scenes that benefit from the extra depth that this presentation affords. Out of the two versions, the 3D presentation is the winner.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Legend of Hercules offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix that is impressive.   The fighting is well supported by the audio content, but the truly exceptional elements are more subtle.  The environmental sounds and the echoes of the labor pains of Hercules’ birth were the items that made me look around my living room unsure if I’d hear something outside my home or in my side speakers.  Dialogue is intelligible and consistent and you aren't required to constantly adjust volume in between fighting and talking.
Extras (1 1/2 out of 5 stars)
From a film like this, I expected a larger quantity of special features.  The two they have didn’t excite me.  The Blu-ray contains the following:
  • Audio Commentary  - Actor Kellan Lutz and Director Renny Harlin allow a surprising amount of gaps in this commentary.  After having a mediocre reaction to the film, I don’t feel like there was any information I had to know in this commentary. 
  • The Making of The Legend of Hercules  - A fourteen minute look behind the scenes at the making of the film.
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
High quality audio and video raise the overall average of this film’s score to a 3 out of 5 stars.  Based on the film and special features it’s a 2/5 at best.  I’m not against Director Renny Harlin’s style at all.  In fact, Deep Blue Sea is one of my favorites!  Kellan Lutz was probably the wrong choice to carry the role of Hercules.  While the acting wasn't bad, I failed to become genuinely interested in him, his family and the love story.  This film missed all the drama between God and Man that Clash of the Titans was able to muster.  There are a lot of Hercules films out there so maybe they were trying to go a different route when they should have chosen a different topic. I’m sure my friends who told me they loved this will argue with me, and that’s okay.  Usually it is easy to pinpoint what I didn't like and what could have been changed to save the film for me.  In this case it was well made, just not well done.  It just didn't make me care about the characters and there wasn't enough action and other details to overcome that.

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