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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From the creators of the "comedies" Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, and the Scary Movie series (Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer) comes the parody of The Hunger Games that no one asked for: The Starving Games. The trailer, much like the title of the film itself, seems to mimic The Hunger Games, but instead of good acting and a theme focusing on human rights, it's filled to brim with bad jokes.
From atomic wedgies to in-your-face pop-culture references — Tim Tebow, Angry Birds, The Avengers, Gangam Style, Avatar — the film doesn't look like it's going to garner much praise, if any at all. (In the past, Friedberg and Seltzer films have received 2-percent and 1-percent on Rotten Tomatoes.)
If you don't think you'll be able to stomach the trailer, here's a joke from the almost three minutes of forced punchlines that describes the movie in a nutshell: A boy's name is "Hugh Janus." Yup.
The film stars Maiara Walsh (Mean Girls 2) as Kantmiss Evershot and Brant Daugherty (Pretty Little Liars) as Dale. The Starving Games arrives in select theaters on Nov. 8, two weeks before The Hunger Games: Catching Fire hits theaters (Nov. 22).
More:The Official 'Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Soundtrack'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Portrait SeriesThe Hilarious 'Hunger Games' Parody You Were Waiting For
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