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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UPDATE: And Martin Short's musical monologue marks seven this season!
EARLIER: I’ve become rather skilled at figuring out the exact point at which someone giving a speech will break out into song. They’ll turn to a piano that appears out of thin air, sit down gingerly, and sing a song about being scared to do what they’re about to do/ being excited about what they’re about to do/ something sexual and mostly irrelevant. Fortunately, I have not learned this from living in the fictionalized permutation of Lima, Ohio as seen on Glee. I’ve just been watching a lot of SNL. There have been six (and-a-half, if you count Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s striptease) musical monologues in Season 38 out of nine total opportunities. SNL, I love you, but it’s getting a little overwhelming. I don’t feel like my boss is done giving a series of directions unless she ends it with a song set to the tune of “Hey Soul Sister.” I expect my waiter to tell me the specials via a snazzy R&B tune complete with leather-clad back-up dancers. I almost broke out in song when I was pitching a story to my editor last week. It’s gotten bad. GALLERY: 18 Stars Who Out-Famed Their TV Shows Musical monologues are an SNL tradition. They’ll always be an option in the Stand-up routine/Audience questions/Studio 8H tour and confrontation with Lorne Michaels/Silly song roulette that applies to every opening monologue. And of course, for a guest giving the SNLstage his or her first shot, the song can be like a rite of passage. But using it week after week after week makes what should be a gleeful surprise seem a little like an expected hurdle before we get to the skits. The best musical monologues happen when the guest is someone who’s actually pretty good at musical comedy. Justin Timberlake’s “I’m Not Singing Tonight,” Jimmy Fallon’s Christmas tune about coming home to the show, and Steve Martin’s“I’m Not Gonna Phone It In This Time” come to mind. Each musical moment has a point of view – and a funny one at that – that is specific to the performer. It’s a stark contrast from this year’s monologues, which included Christina Applegate singing a song about how it wasn’t quite Halloween or the holidays just yet, and isn’t that just as wonderful as a giant Snickers bar in your trick-or-treat bucket? Nope. We also saw Jeremy Renner sit down to a piano and sing half-baked Weird Al-esque songs about his movies, The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy. Bruno Mars just sang about hosting the show. And we gobbled it up happily to the tune of SNL's best ratings this season. None of these folks is a terrible singer (Applegate’s been on Broadway, Renner was surprisingly agreeable, and Bruno Mars is Bruno Mars), but it’s more about the fact that these monologues simply take otherwise boring observations and put them to tunes in hopes that we’ll laugh on account of the jaunty music. But the SNL tradition of musical monologues shouldn’t be used as an escape route. It should make something funnier. Granted, not every host who’s taken to the piano this season has done so without hilarity. Jamie Foxx certainly brought something different to the table when he turned 2 Chainz “The Birthday Song” (“All I want for my birthday is a big booty ho”) into a gentle, jazzy melody. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Martin Short will sing in his monologue when he returns to the Rock this Saturday, and, if he does, it will surely be great — he’s a Tony-award-winning performer and a beloved member of the SNLcore alumni. But singing makes sense for both Short and Foxx. It's what they do. GALLERY: TV's 17 Most Disgusting Moments But there are other options, SNL hosts of the future. Just this year, we saw Daniel Craig honor all the men his characters have killed in movies (and it was far funnier than the self-in-Memoriam Jimmy Kimmel attempted at the Emmys). Last May, Will Ferrell performed his monologue while holding his mother in his freakishly long arms. Even Steve Buscemi's round of audience questions from SNL cast members dressed up like stereotypical movie characters, including Kristen Wiig'smanic "Girl Who Can't Find Her Friends in a Horror Movie," was a hilarious way to start an episode. Not everyone needs to sing to keep us entertained! Yes, it's tough to turn those jokey ideas into gold without the glorious awkwardness of Wiig and fellow Season 37 vet Andy Samberg, but you've got new cast members, SNL! Give 'em whirl. Otherwise, it starts to feel as thought the series lacks confidence in its new class. Sketch comedy is no easy task, especially when critics (including myself) are quick to take a swipe at any skit that fails to elicit a giggle. But that's why SNL has been around for 38 seasons. It's the place we go to for top-notch sketch comedy. Sometimes it's a swing and a miss, but SNL, you've got to at least swing. Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler [Photo Credit: NBC] More: 'Saturday Night Live': Should Series Address Sandy Hook Tragedy? 'SNL' Recap: Christina Applegate Gave Her All 'SNL' With Daniel Craig: Brought To You By The Letter B. For Big Bird.
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Jenna Maroney would be so jealous. Not only is another immensely talented blonde beauty going to be hitting the stage on live television in Rockefeller Center this weekend, but she'll get to play Janis Joplin, too. And she presumably won't even have to call her Jackie Jormp-Jomp either. Playing Joplin for a sketch was one of the details that Christina Applegate — who is returning to host Saturday Night Live for the first time in 19 years — revealed during a chat with NBCUDirect.com.
In addition to sharing that exciting tidbit that she'll be playing the iconic rocker during this weekend's brand-new episode (which will feature musical guests Passion Pit), the Up All Night star also talked about her respect and admiration for SNL's showrunner and creator Lorne Michaels and how the show has remained a "well-oiled machine" even after all these years. Somewhere, Liz Lemon is weeping that she didn't snag Christina Applegate for TGS.
Check out our exclusive look at the video featuring this weekend's host Applegate, who talks more about why she's not only thrilled to be back at SNL, but in New York City, as well. Watch:
?[photo> Are you excited to see Christina Applegate host SNL this weekend? What else do you think she'll play in sketches? Post in the comments section below. More:
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S10E9: Holy over-the-top drama. Last night was a long episode. Granted, group week is usually my favorite because it’s when everyone’s crazy starts to come out, and boy did it ever. The folks at Idol flipped the usual group week antics upside down. When students of the show got ahead of the game by forming groups during the first round of auditions, dreaming up routines and practicing whenever they could, the judges announced that this year the rules had changed. Every group would have to be part Day 1 contestants and Part Day 2 and they’d have to choose songs from a pre-set list. Well crap. Of course, tears and pandemonium ensued – as well as some serious heartlessness. Here’s a tip Idol hopefuls: you aren’t going to win the hearts of American voters if you kick a 15 year old sweetheart out of your group at midnight.
After nearly an hour of set-up, watching the groups flounder to get members, and subsequently fight for space to rehearse, the judges were finally ready to begin the judging. And away we go.
“He came out gangbusters…I think they all went off.” – Steven
Right out of the gate, the groups were shaping up to be pretty good. First up was a trio made up of Pia Toscano, Alessandra Guercio and Brielle Von Hugel singing “Grenade” by Bruno Mars. The New York natives did an adequate rendition of the song and fulfilled the choreography requirement by pretending they were in a Destiny’s Child video from 1999, but that was enough and they all made it through.
Then came the first sign of trouble after all the pre-audition drama. Jordan Dorsey, who will likely not be getting many votes after this display, ditched his group, 440, after playing prima donna all day and telling every potential new member they weren’t good enough. His new group, who changed their name to 4+1 in honor of the recent addition, also featured audience favorite Robbie Rosen and did an nice version of the Jackson 5’s “ABC” that allowed them to make it to the next round. (And even though Rosen aligned himself with the Jordan bozo, I’m still hoping he sticks around.)
Next, of course, because Idol loves the drama, was Jordan’s abandoned group 440 singing the song also known as “Fuck You.” (Take that TV sensors.) Because Idol cuts up the songs so we only see the faces they’re interested in, we saw both Adrian Michaels and Lauren Turner belt it out despite their frustrations due to the wrench Jordan’s decision threw into their routine. They were able to hold their heads high afterward because after a dramatic display of making them each step forward one by one, they all made it through.
“Oh you guys. I’m so scared of this group.” –JLo
Oh, Tiffany Rios, you nutcase. After searching tirelessly for someone, ANYONE to join her group, Tiffany had scored Jessica Yantz as her partner in crime, but no matter how hard they tried (including serenading the unwilling listeners in the auditorium) they couldn’t find a third person to meet the requirements. So they performed a duet and it was horrific. I didn’t know that “Irreplaceable” could sound so much like a horror movie. Then again, I didn’t think she’d make it past the first audition back in New Jersey, so what do I know? Buh-bye, ladies.
From “Irreplaceable” to irresponsible we go as Kevin Campos completely screws his group, Spanglish, by sleeping in until noon. Ass. The good thing about this little screw-up is that it gives Steven a chance to play the drums to pass the time while everyone waits for Kevin to get his act together. (Did anyone else think he looked like Animal from Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem?) When the group finally got up there, Jovany Barreto, Jorge Gabriel and Karen Rodriguez were obviously shaken up by their teammate's dumbassery, but only Jovany and Karen managed to continue on after Steven accidentally told them they’d all make it (and after their onstage celebration made their rejected teammates cry even more). Yikes.
“You fell off the melody…” –Steven
“And forgot all the words.” –JLo
Well, you can’t argue with that; and things continued to underwhelm the judges. Lauren Alaina and her group tried something a little different: they brought Steven up onstage and sang directly to him, even getting him to sing along with them at the end. It was pretty cute. Unfortunately for everyone but Alaina, the judges were impressed with the creativity, but not the vocals. Yeah, you know that little thing that the whole competition is based on. At least Lauren’s teammates were sweet about it.
Then things started to get really, really ugly. The “Nashville Stars” featured crowd favorite Matt Dillard as well as Colton Dixon, but by the time they were done singing the judges were holding their heads in frustration it was so bad. Colton managed to hold his own amongst the muck and walked away as the only one to continue on. This bad streak continued (so brace yourself) with a string of our favorites going off key and piercing ear drums left and right. Shannon Livewell, Brianna Tyson, Janelle Arthur, and Caitlin Koch were all sent packing. Steven’s protégé, Alyson Jaydos, was also sent packing after she just couldn’t cut it (but we could have told you that after her first audition). Many of you may be surprised by Paris Tassin’s expulsion from the competition, but to be honest, her performance of “My Heart Will Go On” last week was actually kind of awful. We all want her to succeed because of her backstory, but the fact is, her voice isn’t strong enough to keep her there.
“I was bathing in your vocals” -Steven
After Ashley Sullivan faked her group out about leaving the competition at nearly 2 a.m., the performed quite well, giving them all a chance to see Ashley’s INSANE happy dance. (I’m afraid we’re going to see a lot more of that.)
Then came more rivalries! Gee, their forming quickly. “The Minors” and the “Deep Vs” are in a bit of a rift because James Durbin of the Vs is pissed about The Minors receiving help from their moms, and then there’s the whole issue of the two groups singing the same song. Too bad no amount of mama’s help could have saved the Vs from their terrible audition. Only Caleb Johnson and James Durbin made it through (although I still think his voice is just downright unpleasant, and now he’s a whiner to boot). Just like JLo predicted, Emma Henry gets swallowed up in the competition and is sent home. It’s a wonder she made it past the sudden death round, to be honest.
The Minors, who included Jalen Harris, Sarina Joi Cole and Deandre Brackensick were absolutely fantastic. I highly doubt that they suddenly gained extra pure talent in those 10 hours of rehearsal. It must suck to be Durbin and have all that whining put on national TV only to be proven wrong. Sorry, dude.
“You goin’ to hoot for us?” –Steven
Corey Levoy and Hollie Cavanaugh’s group makes it through despite half of them forgetting the words. Then one dumbass is stupid enough to ask the judges why they were sent through. DON’T LOOK A GIFT STEVEN TYLER IN THE MOUTH DUDE. It’s scary.
The next two groups braved a capella auditions. The first was pretty awful, yet Julie Zorilla from Colombia and Casey “Fraggle Rock” Abrams managed to shine and continue on. (Can I just say again how much I love Casey Abrams? Dude can really sing…dawg.) Next was Naima Adedapo’s group; she and teammate Jacob Lusk were the only fantastic ones (Lusk adding an interesting little twist to the end of the song) but they all made it through and I’m still not sure why.
“I don’t know that song.” –Jacee Badeaux
“Well, you can learn it.” –Brett Lowenstern
“The Four Non-blondes and That Guy” featured Devyn Rush (who famously lost her job after auditioning for Idol), Carson Higgins, Caleb Hawley, and Chris Medina. The only standout here was Carson Higgins who was like an awesome singing cartoon. Only Devyn was sent home and she cried about how wrong they were – and sometimes they are, but thems the breaks homeslice.
Finally, we get to the group that accepted sweet little Jacee Badeaux after his original group rejected him in the wee hours of the morning. He didn’t know the words to “Mercy” but made his own little jingle (he only had a few hours to learn it!) and the judges had mercy on the poor kid and sent him and his group members who included Denise Jackson and Brett Lowenstern who is not only an awesome singer, but one of the sweetest people in that auditorium. It just warms my heart. (Oh no, I sound like my grandma.)
Jacee’s rejectors, let by the mega-annoying Clint Jun Gamboa, have to fumble on stage while the judges grill them about screwing over the sweetest little boy, but they manage to pull out a decent performance and they all continue on. Of course, now that he has to face the problem, Scotty McCreery is all teary eyed and sorry that he didn’t stick up for Jacee. Why don’t you go apologize to him instead of CRYING INTO THE CAMERA LIKE A PRIMA DONNA.
“Can we do it like a million more times and then we’ll move on?” –Jaqueline Dunford
Last group! We made it. Thanks for sticking with me. Three’s Company was the group of couples whose plans were dashed when Nick Fink was sent home (good riddance). Chelsee Oaks and her ex Rob Bolin partnered with the abandoned girlfriend Jaqueline Dunford who quickly took over everything. By the time they reach the stage, Rob is so tired he can’t remember the words and completely gives up on the competition. Buh-bye. Something tells me that he’s totally okay with that. Maybe it’s that vacant look in his eyes. Oh well. The girls make it through, although personally I think Jaqueline’s voice is unpleasant and she should have been sent packing with her boyfriend.
Now, let’s all rest up and get prepared for tonight, when the contestants will each fend for themselves and we’ll see who gets to make it to the Idol stage.