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Case Number 27262

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The Legend of Hercules 3D (Blu-ray)

Summit Entertainment // 2014 // 98 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 29th, 2014

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All Rise...

Apparently, the legend of Judge David Johnson is more interesting than the legend of Hercules. Who knew?

The Charge

Witness the rise of a god.

Opening Statement

Director Renny Harlin saddles up for a CGI-addled deep dive into the origin of Hercules. This movie sucks so bad it will make you yearn for a Cutthroat Island reboot.

Facts of the Case

When a Greek queen has a borderline inappropriate sexual encounter with the amorphous wang of Zeus, she gives birth to a baby who grows up to be the one-and-only Hercules (Kellan Lutz, Immortals). The king (Scott Adkins, Ninja) is distrustful of this mysterious offspring and when he discovers an illicit relationship between Hercules and the princess that should be marrying Hercules' dickish older brother he takes the opportunity to exile him into the nether regions of the battlefield.

One thing leads to another and Hercules finds himself blindsided, enslaved and fighting for his life in the arena. His ultimate goal: to unleash vengeance against his nuclear family and tap into the divine power his deadbeat dad zapped into his DNA.

The Evidence

I am one to grant dim-bulb action movies featuring gladiators and swords a wide berth, more than willing to look past obvious potholes and wooden acting if in return I get some goopy death knells and guttural exhortations about freedom and dying with honor on the battlefield soaked in one's own urine.

But I have my limits.

The Legend of Hercules is hot garbage from start to finish, an amateurish exercise from the first batch of overwrought percussion to the final guttural Luntz howl. There is so much wrong with it, it's easy to pinpoint the good: 1) the criminally underrated Scott Adkins gets another paycheck, and 2) maybe this horror show will force Renny Harlin to bow to studio whims and release the "You Like Soccer?!" Collector's Edition of Cliffhanger.

The bad? Well…

The action is terrible.
Usually the salvager of meathead films like this, the mayhem in Hercules is tedious and never interesting. Even when a hint of originality pops up (the gladiatorial fight on top of a bunch of ledges makes no sense, but at least I had never seen it before), Harlin goes and screws it all up with slow motion. Not 300-like slow motion, which I can get behind if implemented well, but sporadic segments of slowdown, crammed into the middle of a real-time fight. Since the battles are mundane, you can imagine how much more mundane they are at a third of the speed.

Hercules is a bore.
The Kellan Lutz Experience is new for me. The guy certainly has the forearm diameter, but he looks more like a McDonald's All-American than a battle-hardened Greek warrior. The combination of his milquetoast demeanor with shallow dialogue and empty fight choreography leads to a protagonist who is among the most disposable you'll see all year.

Not that it matters, because no one cares about a Hercules origin story.
Or at least they shouldn't if this is what it is, which is predictable and familiar. Hercules gets stiffed by his scumbag brother, is exiled because of forbidden love, fights a whole bunch, storms back for vengeance and engages in some anti-climactic final battles. There is nothing here you haven't seen before.

I think the biggest misstep is taking the origin angle. While it might work for Superman or Iron Man, Hercules just doesn't have that pop cultural cachet, and why deprive of us of bad-ass demigod powers for 80 minutes? Not that they're particularly awesome when they do drop, made up of Hercules swinging around some CGI stone blocks on the edge of chains—in slow-motion of course.

Hey, it's not all bad! Summit's The Legend of Hercules 3D (Blu-ray) is actually quite a looker, sporting a stunning 2.40:1/1080p HD transfer that makes the computer generated effects look a lot better than they have any business being (side note: if 3D is your bag, Harlin makes sure to throw plenty of debris your way). A generic score and the usual bombast accompanies the tight visuals, rendered in a clean, appreciated 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. Extras: commentary by Lutz and Harlin, a making-of documentary, digital copy, and UltraViolet download.

Closing Statement

Save us Dwayne Johnson. You're our only hope.

The Verdict

Guilty. Return this turd to Olympus.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 95
Audio: 95
Extras: 80
Acting: 40
Story: 40
Judgment: 45

Perp Profile

Studio: Summit Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
• English (SDH)
• Spanish
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2014
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
• Action
• Adventure
• Bad
• Blu-ray
• Fantasy

Distinguishing Marks

• 2D Version
• Commentary
• Featurette
• Digital Copy
• UltraViolet Download


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