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Legend of Hercules, The
Release Date(s)2014 (April 29, 2014)
Studio(s)Summit Entertainment (Lionsgate Films)
I think I’ve bitched and moaned about today’s mainstream movies being the bottom of the barrel of entertainment quite enough in the past. They’re all mostly poorly made, don’t make a lot of sense and aren’t really all that engaging. In other words, product. When it comes to The Legend of Hercules, which is a mostly forgettable action movie directed by Renny Harlin, I wouldn’t call it a complete waste of time, and I can’t say that it’s just product. It’s only a notch above that, but being that as it may, it’s still not a good movie.
The most disappointing thing for me is that it’s sad to see Renny Harlin in a situation wherein he has to make movies in the style of more popular movies. Not that he’s the world’s greatest director, but there was a time when Renny Harlin was, dare I say, cutting edge, and had some fresh ideas on how to approach making movies. That time seems to be long gone, and after one box office bomb after another, it’s a shame that he has to resort to being subservient to a particular style or what’s popular with mainstream audiences. Now I may have this all wrong and the studio behind The Legend of Hercules may have pushed it on him to make the film look like a Zack Snyder/The Lord of the Rings/Gladiator hybrid, but who knows for sure?
Some criticisms toward the movie are that it’s mostly a Gladiator clone aimed at a younger audience, but to me, it goes a bit beyond that. It feels more like a capitalization on the success and popularity of Game of Thrones, but less edgy and more friendly towards a larger group of people. The similarity in storyline between it and Gladiator isn’t much of a surprise to me. Movies like it are made all the time. But while I was watching The Legend of Hercules, I felt mostly indifferent towards it. There are movies far worse than this. This one does have a little more going for it, but it still didn’t get me involved with it any more or any less. There’s a competency to the way it’s been put together, and also the way it looks (copied style and all), so it doesn’t seem like an out-and-out bad movie, just a lifeless one. The special effects aren’t very good (down-right laughable at times actually), and the actors range anywhere from terrible to ho-hum.
So the movie looks fine, but there’s nothing fresh or appealing about it. We’ve seen all of this before, ad infinitum, but without any passion or any creative spark behind it, it fails. I can’t even say that it’s so bad that it’s funny either, which would be the movie’s only saving grace. But when you get right down to it, The Legend of Hercules will ultimately be a mostly forgotten movie. I’m sure that young men, specifically in the 13 to 23 age bracket, will find some enjoyment out of it, but most just won’t care that much.
The film’s release on Blu-ray comes with both the 3D and 2D presentations of the film. I don’t have access to a 3D player at the moment, so I can’t really give an opinion on it, but I will say that the 2D presentation is really fantastic. That’s not to say that it’s a good looking movie, but it was shot using Red Epic cameras, so there’s an enormous amount of fine detail on display. Colors are good, although highly graded to hide the process (as well as the underwhelming CGI, I’m sure), and shadow delineation is great with blacks that are inky deep. Skin tones look ok, but again, through a color grading, and both brightness and contrast are at acceptable levels. There were no signs of any digital tampering to be seen either. So as is, it’s an excellent presentation. The same goes for the soundtrack, which comes in four options: English 7.1 DTS-HD. Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Dolby 2.0 Nighttime Audio, and an English Descriptive Audio track. The 7.1 DTS track is quite aggressive, and is actually the highlight of this release, at least for me. The mix is very well done, with dialogue always audible and clear, and both score and sound effects really putting out the decibels in the surrounding speakers. There’s some great movement from speaker to speaker and great dynamic range, as well as a fine use of ambiance. LFE is also very powerful at times without going too overboard. It’s a great track, to say the least. There are also subtitles in English SDH and Spanish for those who might need them.
The extras are extremely brief and lackluster. They include The Making of The Legend of Hercules featurette (nothing more than an EPK), an audio commentary with lead actor Kellan Lutz and director Renny Harlin, previews for other movies from Lionsgate, a bookmarks option, and a paper insert with an Ultraviolet download code.
So it goes without saying that I just didn’t care for The Legend of Hercules, and I seem to be a part of the majority opinion on this one. Renny Harlin isn’t the only director guilty of bowing down to what’s popular, of course, but he doesn’t make big movies that often anymore, and with this movie bombing as badly as it did upon release, I can’t say that I see a bright future for him at this point. More’s the pity, and I hope I’m wrong. However, this Blu-ray presentation of the film, if you’re interested in it at all, carries a top notch visual/aural presentation, but I wouldn’t recommend it for much more than a rent if you’re curious about it.
- Tim Salmons