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The cacophonous onslaught that is rushing out of Hollywood in the form of hollow blockbusters, talentless “stars” and Michael Bay movies is mitigated by the rare gems that can be easily consumed by casual moviegoers and while also pleasing cinephiles (see Pacific Rim, The Dark Knight, 21 Jump Street). That being said, Hollywood tentpole movies do have their place and can offer a modicum of escapist fun if they can achieve at least a semblance of originality or fresh approach to the spectacle of big budget filmmaking.

This is not the case with The Legend of Hercules, a movie devoid of even a single component (action, acting, special effects) that comes close to a redeeming element. Director Renny Harlin breathes no life into the movie, instead opting to blatantly steal from other, finer films. This is not a casual accusation; several shots in Hercules are identical to those found in 300 and Gladiator. The visual effects and CGI are atrocious and verge on the made-for-TV movies found on the Sci-Fi Channel in the late 1990s.

The movie is set in 1200 B.C. in Greece where King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) is defeating a neighboring kingdom just because he can. His wife, Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee), is scared of her husband and his bloodlust. Though the king and queen have one son already, she begs the gods for another son who will be able to one day defeat his father and restore peace. She is impregnated by the god Zeus and delivers a baby who is christened Hercules.

The movie jumps to 20 years later with Hercules (Kellan Lutz) and his older brother, Iphicles (Liam Garrison), battling for the amorous attention of Hebe (Gaia Weiss), the daughter of one of Amphitryon’s vanquished enemies. She, of course, is in love with Hercules, but the king promises her to Iphicles and banishes Hercules to fight in Egypt in a very suspicious battle. From there, Hercules must fight his way back to Greece to be reunited with Hebe before she marries his brother.

There is no excusing the dozen or so offenses wrought by Harlin and his team of writers, none of whom were able to elevate The Legend of Hercules above complete trash. The movie is haphazardly pieced together like a sizzle reel of the worst Hollywood action movies of the last decade. The 3D is useless and incapable of adding depth to characters or a story this one-dimensional. The movie is boring from beginning to end, having wasted 90 minutes and never delivering a moment of entertainment.

The acting may be the most horrendous aspect of all (which is saying a lot). There is a reason Lutz’s character in the Twilight movies was practically mute. He is incapable of conveying any emotion authentically and delivers his lines as though he is reading them for the first time. Apparently, his perpetually shirtless body is supposed to distract from the blank stare he gives in most of his scenes. The second worst offender is Adkins who yells and growls without reason as if he is competing against Al Pacino for who can better chew all realism from a scene. The rest of the cast is just bad, but thankfully the relatively short run time limits their screen time.

The Legend of Hercules is an empty movie that will bore audiences nearly to tears and deserves to die a quick death.

Grade: F

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