Poised, photogenic performer with strikingly delicate features, of British-African ancestry. Davidson was born in California but raised in the white middle-class surroundings of Hertfordshire, England...
Summit via Everett Collection
You can imagine that Renny Harlin, director and one quadrant of the writing team for The Legend of Hercules, began his pitch as such: We'll start with a war, because lots of these things start with wars. It feels like this was the principal maxim behind a good deal of the creative choices in this latest update of the Ancient Greek myth. There are always horse riding scenes. There are generally arena battles. There are CGI lions, when you can afford 'em. Oh, and you've got to have a romantic couple canoodling at the base of a waterfall. Weaving them all together cohesively would be a waste of time — just let the common threads take form in a remarkably shouldered Kellan Lutz and action sequences that transubstantiate abjectly to and fro slow-motion.
But pervading through Lutz's shirtless smirks and accent continuity that calls envy from Johnny Depp's Alice in Wonderland performance is the obtrusive lack of thought that went into this picture. A proverbial grab bag of "the basics" of the classic epic genre, The Legend of Hercules boasts familiarity over originality. So much so that the filmmakers didn't stop at Hercules mythology... they barely started with it, in fact. There's more Jesus Christ in the character than there is the Ancient Greek demigod, with no lack of Gladiator to keep things moreover relevant. But even more outrageous than the void of imagination in the construct of Hercules' world is its script — a piece so comically dim, thin, and idiotic that you will laugh. So we can't exactly say this is a totally joyless time at the movies.
Summit via Everett Collection
Surrounding Hercules, a character whose arc takes him from being a nice enough strong dude to a nice enough strong dude who kills people and finally owns up to his fate — "Okay, fine, yes, I guess I'm a god" — are a legion of characters whose makeup and motivations are instituted in their opening scenes and never change thereafter. His de facto stepdad, the teeth-baring King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), despises the boy for being a living tribute to his supernatural cuckolding; his half-brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) is the archetypical scheming, neutered, jealous brother figure right down to the facial scar. The dialogue this family of mongoloids tosses around is stunningly brainless, ditto their character beats. Hercules can't understand how a mystical stranger knows his identity, even though he just moments ago exited a packed coliseum chanting his name. Iphicles defies villainy and menace when he threatens his betrothed Hebe (Gaia Weiss), long in love with Hercules, with the terrible fate of "accepting [him] and loving [their] children equally!" And the dad... jeez, that guy must really be proud of his teeth.
With no artistic feat successfully accomplished (or even braved, really) by this movie, we can at the very least call it inoffensive. There is nothing in The Legend of Hercules with which to take issue beyond its dismal intellect, and in a genre especially prone to regressive activity, this is a noteworthy triumph. But you might not have enough energy by the end to award The Legend of Hercules with this superlative. Either because you'll have laughed yourself into a coma at the film's idiocy, or because you'll have lost all strength trying to fend it off.
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Dateline: 10 000 B.C. The day of the last hunt has arrived. Oh dear. If an ancient prophecy holds true a remote mountain tribe’s quiet existence is hours away from coming to a bloody end. Not that it matters to a hunting party comprised of mud-splattered Abercrombie & Fitch himbos--nothing’s going to come between them and a hot plate of woolly mammoth meat. But no sooner is dinner over than “four-legged demons” attack. Actually they’re just slave traders on horseback but they quickly make off with plenty of women and children including Evolet (Camilla Belle). This “girl with the blue eyes” just so happens to possess the tribe’s “promise of life”--whatever that is. Enter D'Leh (Steven Strait). Our would-be He-Man loves Evolet so he organizes a rescue mission with the help of tribe elder Tic’Tic (Cliff Curtis). Their destination is a place unlike anything they have seen before (because they didn’t see Apocalypto): a city with pyramids built by slaves and ruled by a purported god the evil Almighty. First though our heroes must make it there alive--which is easier said than done when there are hungry (and poorly computer-generated) saber-toothed tigers on the prowl. Forget about Belle replacing Raquel Welch as the prehistoric playmate of your dreams. It’s my sad duty to report that are we denied the pleasure of seeing Belle strike some sexy poses in an animal-skin bikini straight out of One Million Years B.C. But it’s nice to know that even in the Mesolithic period our dreadlocked damsel in distress has access to the spa services needed for her to pass as the well-scrubbed face of a Vera Wang perfume campaign. Everyone else though needs a hosing down. Besides keeping herself clean and healthy Belle’s only other responsibility is to give the occasional hard stare that emphasizes Evolet’s piercing blue eyes which she does with aplomb. The Covenant’s Strait may have the beefcake physique of a warrior but he doesn’t possess any noble qualities. He’s more dolt than D’Leh natural born leader. Just listen to the sleepy Strait’s morale-boosting Independence Day-ish speech and you’re be inspired to fall on your own spear. Live Free or Die Hard’s Curtis can barely contain his embarrassment at having to fight at Strait’s side. 10 000 B.C. doesn’t boast a villain worthy of our hisses but Affiff Ben Nadra and Marco Khan at least project some menace as at-odds slave traders. “Only time can teach us what is truth and what is legend ” intones narrator Omar Sharif with all the pomposity of Seinfeld’s J. Peterman. Fine but 10 000 B.C. is hardly the stuff of legends. There are too many problems with this serious-minded but fantastical prehistoric romp to enjoy it on its own terms or as an unintentional exercise in pure camp. Forcing the cast to speak with grating generic European accents makes the inane dialogue harder on the ears. The plot borrows too liberally from Apocalypto. Even when Emmerich stops treading on Mel Gibson’s toes 10 000 B.C. also comes across as a de facto prequel to Stargate what with its antagonist being a pyramid-obsessed supreme being. You even brace yourself for the Almighty to reveal himself to be Jaye Davidson. All could be forgivable if Emmerich delivered on the action. He doesn’t. A woolly mammoth stampede proves to be inferior to similar scenes in Jurassic Park and King Kong. A phorusrhacid attack provokes laughter because it looks like our heroes are fleeing from a pissed-off Big Bird. The climatic revolt ends as soon as it begins. No one demands much from Emmerich. Just pure spectacle. So why does 10 000 B.C. feel no bigger than a natural history museum mini-diorama?
The Crying Game's pivotal penis scene has topped a new movie poll of shocking
The scene in question, where Stephen Rea's character is confronted by the
naked truth that the dancer he's in love with is a man (Jaye Davidson), beat
scenes in 1931 classic The Public Enemy and Alien to top Premiere magazine's
new "The 25 Most Shocking Moments in Movie History" list.
The top 10 is:
1. The Crying Game (IRA member Fergus confronts his 'girlfriend's' member)
2. The Public Enemy (The dead body of James Cagney's gangster character Tom
Powers is dumped on his family's doorstep)
3. Alien (Alien baby jumps out of John Hurt's stomach during a dinner scene)
4. Psycho (Vera Miles' character finds her sister's skeletal corpse in the
basement of the Psycho house)
5. Bonnie and Clyde (Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty's Bonnie and Clyde are ambushed
and killed by police in the country)
6. Reservoir Dogs (Michael Madsen's Mr. Blonde slices off a police officer's ear
as he dances to Steeler's Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle with You")
7. Deliverance (Ned Beatty's character is anally raped by a hillbilly)
8. Carrie (Title character's dead hand grabs Amy Irving from beyond the grave)
9. The Exorcist (Linda Blair's possessed Regan repeatedly stabs herself in the
crotch with a bloody crucifix)
10. Un Chien Andalou (A woman's eye is sliced by a razor blade in the arty
Salvador Dali/Luis Bunuel movie).
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Demanded and received $1 million to appear in Roland Emmerich's "Stargate"
Studied ballet as a child but gave it up because it seemed too demanding in the 1970s
Acting debut in Neil Jordan's "The Crying Game"
Raised in Hertfordshire, England
Moved to England (date approximate)
Poised, photogenic performer with strikingly delicate features, of British-African ancestry. Davidson was born in California but raised in the white middle-class surroundings of Hertfordshire, England. After being discovered at a London wrap party for Derek Jarman's "Edward II", this androgynous, light-complexioned beauty made a big splash with a screen debut in Neil Jordan's "The Crying Game" (1992). Though untrained in acting, Davidson was riveting and fascinating as Dil, a mysterious London singer and hairdresser who confounded many a spectator's expectations. His remarkable achievement was acknowledged with an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Davidson next landed a starring role in the science fiction epic, "Stargate" (1994) playing the sun god Ra, a villainous force who rules a parallel universe that echoes the Egypt of Hollywood biblical movies. Though Janet Maslin of THE NEW YORK TIMES noted that the part didn't involve much acting, she added that Davidson "makes the perfect Ra mannequin".
"The one truly dramatic question raised by 'Stargate' is, why did Jaye Davidson choose to follow up his heartbreaking and lyrically sexy performance in 'The Crying Game' by appearing in this glittery trash pile? Vamping the audience with his come-hither stare, spouting 'hieroglyph' gibberish in an electromagnetic drone, he gives you the feeling that Darth Vader has been reincarnated as Ali MacGraw." --Owen Gleiberman writing in Entertainment Weekly, November 11, 1994.
"... I was completely broke and my phone service had been cut off. The "Stargate" people sent a courier around and said 'If you're interested in the film, phone this man'. So I went up to the phone box. It was like one or two in the morning, and I thought, No, I don't think I really want to do it. So I said, 'All right, I'll do it for a million dollars.' I thought, I have no chance of geting a million dollars. They said I had to phone back in an hour. And then when I called back, they said, 'Yeah, we'll give you a million dollars.'" --Jaye Davidson in Interview, November 1994.