Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Legend of Hercules (2014)

The legend of who again?

Ray Harryhausen practically taught Hollywood how to make visual effects for films. From Mighty Joe Young to Jason and the Argonauts and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad to Clash of the Titans, the man clearly knew how to impress using the tools of his day. In this day of cheap and easy CGI, it seems that Hollywood seems to churn out visual effects that are lacklustre, boring, or even laughable.

The Legend of Hercules disappoints not because the title of the film has very little to do with the story you expect to see, but because the visuals are less than spectacular. But let’s talk about the story first. Zeus answers the prayers of a queen by impregnating her with a demigod son who grows up to overthrow the despotic regime of her husband, a bloodthirsty conquering king, and restore peace to Greece. The obstacles in his way: the despotic, warmongering king, his incompetent but conniving brother and love rival, and a voyage on a ship that ends up with him becoming a slave in the gladiator ring.

Yes, you heard right: despite its title, there’s nothing from the legendarium that’s in this film. Not even a voyage to retrieve a golden fleece that is interrupted by an island full of Amazon warriors. Nothing from the Herakles mythology. Whatever it alludes from the mythology is plain wrong—right down to Hera arranging the tryst between Zeus and the queen. Hercules slays his despotic, evil brother and step-father, restores peace to the known world, and rules as a benevolent king and happily married family man.

What, you say? This is the legend of who again? I told you so. Not even Kellan Lutz can convince himself he’s Hercules. At some point, you wish the film could be about a generic prince fighting a war against his evil stepfather instead of a Hercules film.

All this nonsense would go down easier if the CGI were half competent or properly budgeted. It isn’t. There’s the very obvious green screen where everyone seems to shimmer right in front of you. Then there’s the background crowd CGI (armies, flotillas, crowds at coliseums) that look like they’re animated. As in cartoon animated. Then there’s the Zack Snyder penchant for slowing down and speeding up action scenes for no apparent reason. Only here, it’s done so you realise that this film has lots of puncture wounds but no blood. As opposed to the pre-Harryhausen Hollywood actioners where everyone had blood smeared on their bodies but no visible wounds.

Skip the movie. Buy the soundtrack. Check back in 20 years time when this film might have garnered some cult status for its badness, cheapness, or bizarreness.

No comments: