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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It was the trickle of pee heard around the world. Cannes attendees were aghast and/or amused an infamous scene from The Paperboy that shows Nicole Kidman urinating on Zac Efron; this is apparently a great salve for jellyfish burns which were covering our Ken Doll-like protagonist. (In fact the term protagonist should be used very loosely for Efron's character Jack who is mostly acted upon than active throughout.)
Lurid! Sexy! Perverse! Trashy! Whether or not it's actually effective is overshadowed by all the hubbub that's attached itself to the movie for better or worse. In fact the movie is all of these things — but that's actually not a compliment. What could have become somethingmemorable is jaw-droppingly bad (when it's not hilarious). Director Lee Daniels uses a few different visual styles throughout from a stark black and white palette for a crime scene recreation at the beginning to a '70s porno aesthetic that oscillates between psychedelic and straight-up sweaty with an emphasis on Efron's tighty-whiteys. This only enhances the sloppiness of the script which uses lines like narrator/housekeeper/nanny Anita's (Macy Gray) "You ain't tired enough to be retired " to conjure up the down-home wisdom of the South. Despite Gray's musical talents she is not a good choice for a narrator or an actor for that matter. In a way — insofar as they're perhaps the only female characters given a chunk of screen time — her foil is Charlotte Bless Nicole Kidman's character. Anita is the mother figure who wears as we see in an early scene control-top pantyhose whereas Charlotte is all clam diggers and Barbie doll make-up. Or as Anita puts it "an oversexed Barbie doll."
The slapdash plot is that Jack's older brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) comes back to town with his colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo) to investigate the case of a death row criminal named Hillary Van Wetter. Yardley is black and British which seems to confuse many of the people he meets in this backwoods town. Hillary (John Cusack) hidden under a mop of greasy black hair) is a slack-jawed yokel who could care less if he's going to be killed for a crime he might or might not have committed. He is way more interested in his bride-to-be Charlotte who has fallen in love with him through letters — this is her thing apparently writing letters and falling in love with inmates — and has rushed to help Ward and Yardley free her man. In the meantime we're subjected to at least one simulated sex scene that will haunt your dreams forever. Besides Hillary's shortcomings as a character that could rustle up any sort of empathy the case itself is so boring it begs the question why a respected journalist would be interested enough to pursue it.
The rest of the movie is filled with longing an attempt to place any the story in some sort of social context via class and race even more Zac Efron's underwear sexual violence alligator innards swamp people in comically ramshackle homes and a glimpse of one glistening McConaughey 'tock. Harmony Korine called and he wants his Gummo back.
It's probably tantalizing for this cast to take on "serious" "edgy" work by an Oscar-nominated director. Cusack ditched his boombox blasting "In Your Eyes" long ago and Efron's been trying to shed his squeaky clean image for so long that he finally dropped a condom on the red carpet for The Lorax so we'd know he's not smooth like a Ken doll despite how he was filmed by Daniels. On the other hand Nicole Kidman has been making interesting and varied career choices for years so it's confounding why she'd be interested in a one-dimensional character like Charlotte. McConaughey's on a roll and like the rest of the cast he's got plenty of interesting projects worth watching so this probably won't slow him down. Even Daniels is already shooting a new film The Butler as we can see from Oprah's dazzling Instagram feed. It's as if they all want to put The Paperboy behind them as soon as possible. It's hard to blame them.
Make sure to check out Part 1 of our San Diego Comic-Con Preview!
The weekend’s here, which means only two more days of the Con left to go!
Saturday, July 23 - Comic-Con Day 3: The Search for Spock
Saturday T.V. begins with some spy geekery…
NBC’s Chuck has enjoyed a constant stay of execution and its due to a devoted cult following that is sure to be coming to the "Chuck Screening and Q&A” at Ballroom 20 at 10AM. Co–creator, Chris Fedak, along with stars Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Josh Gomez, Adam Baldwin, and more will be on hand in celebration of the show’s fandom and final season.
This is not a Land of the Lost remake…
After a brief delay to make sure the effects looked right, Fox and Steven Spielberg’s Terra Nova, is here and being previewed at Comic-Con! Brought to you by the creator of the hugely underrated The 4400, executive producer Rene Echevarria, comes exclusive footage of the series that is sure to captivate sci–fans and dinosaur lovers everywhere.
V for Twixt? Oliver Twixt? Mr. Coppola comes to Comic-Con…
Many moviegoers, comic book fans and non, consider The Godfather, and The Godfather II, amongst some of the greatest movies ever made. While director Francis Ford Coppola has been off shooting small indies for the last few years, but now he’s teaming up with Val Kilmer and Elle Fanning for Twixt, a film written and directed by the beloved auteur. It’s not based on a comic book, but Coppola’s new film will be in Hall H at 11:45AM to hopefully generate a ton of heat for its late 2011 release.
Cyclopes, Drunk Robots, and the Planet Express
For having faith in a show thought long cancelled. Futurama has been back for a year now, and the cult fave will be at Ballroom 20 at 12:15 to preview footage from the Futurama Japanese Anime and a preview of the this summer’s season. Along for the panel are Matt Groening and David X. Cohen (Futurama’s creators), as well as stars Billy West (Fry), Katey Sagal (Leela), and John DiMaggion (Bender).
Yellow Fever at ComiCon…
Holy crow, The Simpsons has been officially been on television for a generation. Can anyone remember a world without them? Heck, the pure notion of such a thing is profoundly odd. What on Earth did people watch on Sundays pre–1989? Fans can go to Ballroom 20 at 1PM to help Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Anderson, and Tom Gammill for a celebratory panel and Q&A session, as the show gets ready for its 23rd season and 500th episode.
Batman and his bad girls…
What fun-filled day at Comic-Con would be complete without a Batman-centric panel? At 1PM in room 26AB will be a philosophical and psychological discussion “Psychology of the Dark Knight: How Trauma Formed the Batman and Why He’s Got a Thing for Bad Girls,” which features psychologist Travis Langley (Henderson State), Robin Rosenberg (Psychology of Superheroes), Michael Uslan, and Catwoman herself, Lee Meriwether, all dissecting the realism of Batman’s never-ending war on crime; as well as his attraction to women like Selina Kyle and Pamela Isley.
JMS, the hardest working writer in Comicdom…
He’s the creator of Babylon 5, and the comic book saga, Rising Stars. He’s written for Superman, Spider-Man,and Silver Surfer, as well as contributed to the scripts for Thor, and the upcoming World War Z. There might not be anything on this planet that J. Michael Straczynski can’t put a new and exciting spin on, and he’s bringing that unique vision to Room 7AB at 2PM to discuss what its liking writing for so many genres and mediums, and put the “Spotlight” on himself and his future.
Mayor Adam West...
“Family Guy” voice actors, Alex Borstein (Lois), and Seth Green (Chris) and the esteemed Adam West will be giving Ballroom 20 a sneak peek at season 10 and the upcoming episode, “Stewie Goes for a Drive," at 2PM. Sorry, no Seth MacFarlane announced as of this writing, but MacFarlane’s sister Rachel, along with Scott Grimes, and Wendy Schaal will be in the room at 2:35 to present a preview the new season of their show, American Dad.
The studios were bound to mine old folk tales for new films sooner or later…
As evidenced by the recent Little Red Riding Hood, Hollywood is now tapping into many of our childhood favorites and twisting them into dark fairy tales to make a new genre (which for the record, Todd MacFarlane already started with his “Twisted World of Oz” toys, but I digress). Hall H at 3:30 is where Universal Studios will be showing off some scenes of their upcoming twisted tale, Snow White and the Huntsmen, starring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, and Chris Hemsworth, who will all be on hand to discuss the flick. Here’s hoping they cast Kenny Baker as Doc.
Speaking of Folk Tales, NBC is joining that bandwagon as well…
Fans might need to check their drawers for this one, because the geektastic tri–fecta of creative minds from Buffy, Angel, and The X–Files are reimagining the world of Grimms’ fairy tales in NBC’s newest series, Grimm. The twist on the folk tales is an exciting one, as a homicide detective learns that he is a descendent of a group of hunters called Grimms, who are tasked with protecting the world from the supernatural creatures that lived in the fairy tales. If that sounds interesting , then get to Room 6A at 4:15PM for the “Grimm Pilot Screening and Q&A,” with the producers and cast.
Comicdom’s most prolific artist since Jack Kirby…
Creating WildC.A.T.S. as well as helping to re–envision the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel, among many other accomplishments in comic books is something to be amazed by, and make no mistake–Jim Lee’s artwork is nothing short of amazing. In 6DE at 4:30 “DC Focus: Jim Lee,” brings the most in demand artist in the industry, now a co–publisher of DC Entertainment, to showcase his new looks for some of the World’s Greatest Superheroes. Then, join Lee Sunday at 3 in 28DE to see how the master himself works in “Drawing with Jim Lee.”
So wait, Peter now never existed?!...
Fans of Fringe are still reeling and scratching their noggins from the wildest twist in the series’ history, and that’s a hard feat to pull off considering this show is about alternate Earths who are at war with one another because a scientist lost his son to an illness in 1985 and then kidnapped the alternate version of that son in what became a successful attempt to save him from the same fate but caused dangerous rips within the fabric of reality. Phew — lot going on, no? Trust me that sentence makes perfect sense to fans of the show, who will no doubt pack Ballroom 20 at 4:30PM to hang out with series stars, Lance Reddick, Jasika Nicole, John Noble, and Anna Torv to preview the third season DVD and the upcoming season. Hopefully we’ll get some clue as to what happened to Peter (played by Joshua Jackson), who is still on the show, despite seemingly no longer existing.
Yes, he IS supposed to be here today…
Almost twenty years ago, Kevin Smith became a household name in fanboy circles. The creator of the ViewAskewniverse, as well as writer of the excellent “Daredevil: Guardian Devil” and “Green Arrow: Quiver” comic books is coming to Comic-Con for his annual “Early Evening with Kevin Smith,” at 5:45 in Hall H, where the director will bring his usual anything goes Q&A to the Con. Nothing will be off–limits here, and trust me get to this one early if you want a seat.
Debunking all kinds of hokum since 2003…
Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman, and the rest of their team have worlds of fun at their job – being Mythbusters! The group will be at Room 6BCF at 7:45 for their annual Saturday panel, discussing what myths are being trounced in the show’s tenth season.
Now’s your chance to catch some of the panels you missed…
I’m sure you spent a great deal of time agonizing over which panels to go see and which panels had to fall by the wayside of your schedule. Let’s face it; no one can see it all at Comic-Con. But that’s why at 8PM in Room 25ABC will be a three–hour marathon of all of the best panels from Hall H and Ballroom 20!
Sookies everywhere, along with Fetts, Elves, and Robots of all universes…
True Blood is definitely an obsession of many a TV junkie, and Comic-Con is giving the fans of the show a vampire-inspired Masquerade Ball. So get your Merlotte outfits, Fett suits, and white Rogue hair streaks on and head to Ballroom 20, 5AB, or 6A, for the whole fangbangin’ party, starting at 8:30 and judged by writer/artists, Phil and Kaja Foglio.
S7:E10: We were greeted last night with a rather pathetic vignette featuring Angelo’s complete emotional breakdown after Kenny was eliminated last episode. In Kenny’s absence, it appears Angelo has lost his sense of purpose and identity; he spent the hours after Kenny’s departure quivering in the back yard and eating yogurt. What is Lex Luthor without Superman? What is Rachel McAdams without Ryan Gosling?? He was totally inconsolable, wandering lost and disoriented in quilted slippers, feebly calling out for Kenny and mourning the loss of his own existential niche in the Top Chef dimension.
Quick Fire last night was a MYSTERY BOX challenge supervised by Wylie Dufresne, Molecular Gastronomist Extraordinaire. The cheftestants were told to start a dish using ingredients in the first box, and were to incorporate all components from arriving boxes into their dish. To be successful, the chefs were to keep their dishes to something general and easily manipulated. Tiffany did a great job at this, delighting Wylie and taking home 10 grand by making a fish stew which easily took the addition of the mystery ingredients, which included ramp (a scallion or leek type veg), black garlic (Kelly notes that it is sweeter and smokier than WHITE garlic, aw yeah), passion fruit, squid, and jicama.
Angelo, however, was all nerves. He showed none of his usual highly inappropriate, sexually-charged confidence and raw meat fetishism. He began sweating and crying into his hot gelee cakes and cold mousse. Luckily, both Alex and Amanda fared worse than him because they are both shit chefs, and while theirs was a lack of technical skill, Angelo’s failure stemmed from a deeply emotional, pained yearning for a lost love.
Next thing we know, Padma is repelling from the ceiling and window shades are being snapped shut. Tom Collicio commando-crawls out from under the fridge. “ATTENTION CHEFTESTANTS! You have been recruited into the CIA! This is a matter of NATIONAL SECURITY. Secret agents must be able to take on a new identity as a matter of life or DEATH and similarly, you will be disguising a classic dish so it looks different but tastes the same!” Yes, these ridiculous exclamations Padma actually said.
Amanda starts in with the “I would be a fantastic spy. I would seduce some secrets outta like, KGB.” (She’s worried about Soviets? Really?) She considers herself a modern-day Sydney Bristow, all tiny guns in lingerie and forbidden trysts with hot Canadian handlers. She drawls that her spy name would be Miss “Natasha”, if you’re nasty. We just collectively gagged and pretended not to have heard.
Fine. Insultingly corny themes aside, this challenge boiled down to the “deconstruction” task of previous seasons, which is usually a fun one. We have Angelo on a Beef Wellington, a dish I know very well from Hell’s Kitchen reruns. (That Wellington is RAW. IT'S RAAWWW!) Angelo ninnys about Whole Foods, and very unfortunately chooses to make a Wellington pizza with frozen puff pastry crust and pepperoni’s cut of out beef strips.
I know the producers are toying with us, threatening to take away Angelo after the easy execution of Kenny, but I know they are bluffing here with a red-herring edit. Stay calm chickees, Bravo wouldn’t leave us in the desolate purgatory of reality television populated by boring, one-dimensional white paper-dolls. If I had to watch Ed and Kelly duke it out for 3 more weeks….
In any case, at the judging, the cheftestants were led to LANGLEY, VIRGINIA to cook inside the CIA HEADQUARTERS and serve their disguised food to various CIA admins and the director of the CIA, Leon Panetta. Whaaaat? Awesome. Panetta was pretty charming, dispensing some canned joke about Angelo’s pizza representing a blundering operative headed for discovery and public hanging. After a dead-pan delivery he got some breaking news and was all “PANETTA OUT” and bounced outta there to take care of national security issues.
The judges also hated Amanda’s French Onion soup disguised as soup, but with sickly sweet marmalade. Before she brought it out, Amanda made a Hellen Keller joke! We all love Keller jokes, so we ignore the small fact that Hellen Keller could still taste shit.
Alex also made something disgusting as usual – a Veal Parmesan dish that was tough and apparently inedible.
Tiffany, of course, did smashingly; she cooked up a deconstructed gyro with little bits of food all across the plate that when mixed together released the flavors of that delicious street-meat. Ed also did well with an inside-out Chicken Cordon-Bleu, though the mix of cold-cuts and chicken looked a bit like a dorky kid's lunch. Kelly’s dish was also praised for it's creativity working Kung-pao shrimp into a soup.
Tom and the other judges were quite taken with Tiffany’s gyro dish! She took home the grand prize - a trip to Paris compliments of ubiquitous sponsor Hilton Hotels!
When the losers shuffled in, we could practically hear the wheels whizzing inside Amanda’s head, ticking off all the reasons this challenge was particularly unfair for her specifically, and how she is massively, exquisitely talented but constantly held back by these bullshit challenges.
Angelo seemed resigned and defeated, obviously longing only to be reunited with his better, darker, more chocolaty half.
But it was Alex who was informed that every single component of his dish had failed, and was unceremoniously sent home. The Russian has left the building!
Oh, and I realized this episode why Alex is so creepy: it is because his eyes are unblinking and his eyebrows are unmoving! When he speaks to the camera especially he stares without moving the upper part of his face. Very unsettling. That and his eternally pervy remarks in interviews and during scenes. I will miss his entertaining foreign weirdness though. Who will we rely on for some humorous relief? The comedic stylings of Kevin Sbraga? It is a long winter ahead of us comrades. DAS VIDANYA ALEX.