Movie Reviews

'The legend of Hercules': All brawn, no brain

By Anjali RaguramanMovies - 09 January 2014 11:18 AM | Updated 4:29 PM

'The legend of Hercules': All brawn, no brain

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Rating: 1.5 / 5

In yet another film interpretation of the mythological story of Hercules, the legendary character is reduced to an angry, violent brute. If you’re looking for anything with dramatic or storytelling value, watch something else.

But if you’re into shirtless flexing and male bodies on display, then this is a film for you. The movie is chock full of sword-wielding action and violent fight scenes, with a thin love story at the heart of the plot.

In Ancient Greece, Queen Alcmene bears the son of Zeus, who is destined to overthrow the rule of a tyrant king, Amphitryon, and restore peace in the land. He lives his life unaware of his true identity and destiny. He falls in love with Hebe, princess of Crete, who is due to be married off to his older brother, while he is sent to Egypt by the king to a certain death. He must then use his powers to fight his way back and fulfill his destiny.


Kellan Lutz, of ‘Twilight’ fame, plays the protagonist. While he certainly looks the part of Hercules, all bulging muscles, sun-kissed skin and leather armour, he ends up coming across as a juiced up Abercrombie & Fitch model instead of a Greek warrior. It’s not helped by the fact that he shouts rallying cries and grunts his way through most of the film. Ever so often, his American accent creeps into his put-on British one, and breaks the illusion even further.

No brand-name actors or British thespians feature in the film, as one has come to expect of Greco-Roman mythological retellings on film. Instead, there are a host of relative new faces, or at least none that are Hollywood A-listers. But even they are more convincing than Lutz.

Gaia Weiss plays Hercules' love interest, Hebe

Newcomer Gaia Weiss, who plays love interest Hebe, fits the role as the damsel in distress. The Parisian model, with her waifish figure and cascading blonde tresses, looks the part and plays it with melodrama befitting of her (Greek) tragedy, filled with forbidden love. 

Scott Adkins as King Amphitryon is a good mix of sinister and badass, playing the part of ruthless tyrant with aplomb. His fight sequences in particular, were a treat to watch. Not surprising, as he is a martial artist by training and choreographed fight sequences on movies such as ‘Wolverine’. 

The most convincing character however, is Liam McIntyre as Hercules’ companion and ally Sotiris, who also plays the lead character in TV series ‘Spartacus’. His acting chops show, and his experience on the popular TV series definitely helps him embody his role as noble army general here.


The influence of the film ‘300’ in particular, with its slowed down moments in rapid fight sequences, is apparent. Though unlike ‘300’, which oozed cool with its highly-stylised cinematography and filters, ‘Hercules’ feels like a low-budget film. Battle scenes and gladiatorial fights, while elaborate, have no purpose other than to illustrate a blood bath, unlike in Ridley Scott's ‘Gladiator' (2000), which employed such sequences with emotional gravity. 

Battle sequences and gladitorial fights feature regularly throughout the film

Poor CGI effects add to the disappointment. A fight scene with a lion looks like a bad video game, where the lion was very obviously added in in post production. 

With the likes of ‘Clash of the Titans’ and ‘Immortals’ being part of the Greek myth film genre in recent years, ‘Hercules’ feels like an unnecessary and forgettable addition to the canon.

There is another Hercules movie coming out later this year, directed by Brett Ratner and with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as the protagonist. ‘Hercules: The Thracian Wars’ will be based on the graphic novel of the same name, and stars the likes of John Hurt and Joseph Fiennes. That sounds far more promising.

Hopes of becoming a leading action man, however, don’t look promising for Lutz.

'The Legend of Hercules' opens in cinemas 9 January 2014