Today’s feature is widely considered to be one of the worst theatrical releases of 2014: The Legend of Hercules.
The Legend of Hercules had four credited writers, including director Renny Harlin, Sean Hood (Cube 2: Hypercube, Conan The Barbarian, Halloween: Resurrection), and two guys names Giulio Steve and Dianial Giat, who only have a handful of credits between them.
The Legend of Hercules was directed, produced, and co-written by Renny Harlin, who is best known for movies like Driven, Deep Blue Sea, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Mindhunters, Die Hard 2, 12 Rounds, Cliffhanger, and Cutthroat Island.
The cinematographer for the film was Sam McCurdy, who has shot such movies as The Descent, Dog Soldiers, and Centurion.
The editor for The Legend of Hercules was Vincent Tabaillon, who has also cut the flicks Taken 2, Now You See Me, and The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton.
The team of producers for the film, outside of director Renny Harlin, included Boaz Davidson (Olympus Has Fallen, The Expendables, The Expendables 2, It’s Alive), Avi Lerner (American Ninja 2, Howling IV, Shark Attack 3), Danny Lerner (Cyborg Cop, Cyborg Cop 2), Trevor Short (The Iceman, Drive Angry), Lonnie Ramati (Stolen, Shark in Venice), Nikki Stanghetti (12 Rounds), John Thompson (The Expendables 3), David Varod (300: Rise of an Empire), and Les Weldon (Replicant).
The musical score for the movie was provided by Tuomas Kantelinen, who also provided music for the films Mindhunters, Mongol, and Arn: The Knight Templar.
The makeup effects team for The Legend of Hercules included Angela Angelova (300: Rise of an Empire), Daniela Avramova (Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys), Sofi Hvarleva (The Black Dahlia), Yana Stoyanova (Getaway, Hitman), Petya Simeonova (Raptor Island, Alien Apocalypse), and Ivon Ivanova (Manquito),
The special effects unit for the film was made up of Mark Meddings (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation), Reggie Rizzo (Jingle All The Way, Mad Max: Fury Road), Pini Klavir (Iron Eagle), Peter Nikolov (War, Inc.), Ivo Jivkov (Universal Soldier: Regeneration), Timothy Huizing (Jack and Jill, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, Small Soldiers), Nikolay Fartunkov (Wrong Turn 3), and Jovko Dogandjiski (Shark Attack 2).
The extensive visual effects work for The Legend of Hercules were provided by a number of different companies, including Rhythm and Hues (Babe, Life of Pi), Prime Focus (Pixels, The Martian), Crafty Apes (Foxcatcher, White House Down), Basilic Fly (The Smurfs, Green Lantern), and Ghost VFX (Jurassic World, Pacific Rim).
The cast of the movie is made up of Kellan Lutz (Twilight), Gaia Weiss (Vikings), Scott Adkins (Zero Dark Thirty), Roxanne McKee (Dominion), Kenneth Cranham (Maleficent), Luke Newberry (Anna Karenina), Johnathon Schaech (Quarantine), Rade Serbedzija (Snatch, Eyes Wide Shut), Liam McIntyre (Spartacus: War of the Damned), and Liam Garrigan (Once Upon A Time).
The origin story of the the mythical Greek hero. Betrayed by his stepfather, the King, and exiled and sold into slavery because of a forbidden love, Hercules must use his formidable powers to fight his way back to his rightful kingdom.
As I have mentioned in some other reviews, every once in a while multiple films with nearly identical concepts will release within close proximity of each other. For example, The Abyss, DeepStar Six, and Leviathan all popped up in 1989, Red Planet and Mission to Mars released within months of each other, and Volcano and Dante’s Peak both hit theaters in 1997. As it so happens, 2014 saw two theatrical features centering on the character of Hercules: The Legend of Hercules, which came out in January, and Hercules, starring Dwayne Johnson, that released in July.
The Legend of Hercules was nominated for six 2014 Golden Raspberry awards, including ones for Worst Picture, Worst Actor, Worst Actress, and Worst Director. However, it did not wind up ‘winning’ any of the infamous awards.
The Legend of Hercules was made on a budget of $70 million, on which it grossed just over $61 million in its theatrical run. However, almost all of that was from foreign markets, as the film proved to be a complete flop domestically. Critics and audiences were likewise less than thrilled with the product: it currently holds a 4.2 on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 3% from critics and 33% from audiences.
The Legend of Hercules is best described as a hybrid of Gladiator and 300 with all of the vision and talent siphoned out. Nothing about the film feels at all unique, and not just because the story of Hercules has been told so many times. In fact, the odd retelling of the story is the most original aspect of the movie if you ask me. The lack of originality mostly comes out in the visuals (constant color filters and mimicked shots from, of course, Gladiator and 300), the dialogue (which is boring at best), and even in the casting itself: there are a couple of characters who were clearly cast specifically to look like actors from 300.
I can sort of see what the production was going for with this movie, and it might have even been successful if it had been done a few years earlier. 300, at this point, was almost 8 years in the past, which is way too long to wait to make a knock-off like this. The other thing that really surprised me was the production budget, which was estimated at $70 million. Personally, I think this looks like a pretty cheap movie, and has the appearance of an upper-end straight-to-DVD offering. I have a hunch that this high of a budget wasn’t originally part of the plan, and that the visual effects and theatrical release was done in hopes that an already sunk budget could be recovered by doubling down. And, to their credit, they made most of that money back.
Overall, I think The Legend of Hercules is a watchable movie, but it is unquestionably dull, and doesn’t bring anything remotely unique to the table. Outside of a couple of sequences of laughably bad CGI, there isn’t a lot of good-bad entertainment to be had here. Unless this movie is somehow thrust upon you, I don’t think it is really worth seeking out. But, if you do happen upon it while flipping channels, it makes for decent enough background noise.