The Legend of Hercules

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In ancient Greece, King Amphitryon of Tiryns invades the shores of Argos. The two massive armies face each other, prepared for battle. Amphitryon strikes a bargain with the rival King Galenus: the two will fight to the death, to the victor goes his adversary’s kingdom and army. The two engage in combat and Amphitryon easily defeats Galenus and seizes his kingdom. That night, Amphitryon is visited by his estranged wife, Queen Alcmene. He boasts he won the kingdom for her; she protests he won the kingdom for himself and its gold. Alcmene is disgusted by her husband’s thirst for power and warmongering. She prays to Hera for guidance. A woman appears declaring herself to be Hera, wife of Zeus, and prophecies that Alcmene will bear the son of Zeus and he will be the savior of her people. The only other witness to this is Chiron, the queen’s loyal adviser.

That night, as Amphitryon celebrates his victory, Alcmene is visited by Zeus. She is discovered by Amphitryon who believes the Queen has taken a mortal lover. Alcmene soon gives birth to a healthy baby boy named Alcides, but she secretly acknowledges his true name: Hercules. Twenty years later, a strong and handsome Hercules/Alcides rides along the countryside with his love, Hebe. They frolic along the shore of a secluded lake. Alcides admires Hebe’s necklace which was given to her by her mother; she in turn bestows the necklace to Alcides. The two are discovered by Alcides’ older brother, Iphicles. A search party was dispatched to look for Hebe, a princess of Crete. Hebes returns to the palace along with her guard while Alcides and Iphicles follow. Along the way the two are attacked by a lion. Alcides wrestles with the lion, strangling it. Iphicles takes all the credit and arrives at the royal banquet wearing the lion’s pelt as a cloak. He attempts to humiliate Alcides, calling him a coward but Hebe sees right through him. At the banquet Amphitryon announces the engagement of Hebe and Iphicles. The two lovers are devastated and decide to run away together. They are chased down by the royal guard and Hebe nearly drowns before being saved by Alcides. Alcides is taken back to the palace and is sent away by his father to join a campaign of soldiers to Egypt.

As Alcides prepares for his journey, Alcmene tells him of his true lineage. Alcides believes it is madness and departs for his journey vowing to return to Hebe in three moons before her impending nuptials. Alcides, under the command of Captain Sotiris, traverses the arid Egyptian desert. Sotiris sends two scouts ahead to scour the desert but they never return. The company is ambushed, leaving Alcides and Sotiris as the last survivors. The leader of the ambush recovers Alcides’ helmet and demands to know where the prince is. Sotiris gestures to the body of a slain soldier, saying he is Alcides. Alcides refers to himself as Hercules to protect his identity. It is revealed that Amphitryon planned the ambush in hopes of killing Hercules. The two are sold off as slaves to a vicious promoter who organizes gladiator style fights. Sotiris and Hercules fight to death with other slaves and soon become undefeated. Sotiris and Hercules convince the promoter to send them to Greece in order to fight in an arena battle in which two gladiators fight six undefeated gladiators. If the promoter were to bet on Hercules and Sotiris he would have riches beyond his wildest dreams. The promoter agrees to take Sotiris and Hercules if they are able to defeat two other gladiators, Half Face and Humbaba. The four are thrown into an arena, with narrow stone paths divided by pits studded with spikes. Hercules defeats Half Face and Humbaba but Sotiris is injured. The promoter refuses to take Sotiris, since he will be useless in battle but Hercules convinces him to set Sotiris free and he will fight all six gladiators himself.

Back in Greece, Alcmene and Hebe mourn the death of Hercules. Alcmene once again seeks guidance from Hera. Amphitryon discovers her and confronts her about Hercules’ parentage. She reveals she took Zeus as her lover so that she would bear the child that would overthrow him, after which tries to stab Amphitryon, but fails. In anger, Amphitryon stabs Alcmene with her own dagger. Chiron discovers them and Amphitryon tells him the Queen committed suicide in her grief. Meanwhile, Hercules arrives in Greece and easily bests the six gladiators in battle. The people celebrate his victory and deserters of Amphitryon’s army join him and Sotiris. Chiron brings Hercules’ news of his mother, who vows to avenge her death. Sotiris and Hercules seek refuge in the home of the human vessel of Hera, who foretells Hercules’ destiny.

Hebe is in anguish after the death of Alcides and dreads her wedding to Iphicles, in just two moons. She tries to leap off the roof of the palace but is saved by Chiron who brings her to Hercules. The two are reunited and return to Hercules’ safe-house. Amphitryon’s army begins to desert him, forcing him to hire foreign mercenaries. Hercules and Sotiris begin a fight against Amphitryon’s campaign of tyranny, angering Amphitryon who seeks to destroy them. Iphicles, aided by the mercenaries, murders Sotiris’ wife and uses his son as a bargaining chip. He must lead them to Hercules or his son will die. Sotiris reluctantly leads them to the safe-house. Iphicles discovers that Hercules is none other than his brother Alcides. Hercules, Chiron, and Hebe are captured. Sotiris and Chiron are imprisoned while Hercules is chained and publicly flogged. Sotiris and Chiron are brought before the crowd. Hercules watches on in horror as Iphicles murders Chiron under Amphitryon’s orders. In anguish he acknowledges his father and calls upon him for strength. Hercules breaks free from his chains and crushes Amphitryon’s guard. Amphitryon and Iphicles escape.

Hercules and Sotiris raise an army and storm Amphitryon’s palace. Amphitryon’s guard join Hercules and his army and they battle Amphitryon’s mercenaries. Hercules calls upon his father who infuses his sword with the power of lightning. Hercules easily defeats the mercenaries with his lightning sword. He meets Amphitryon inside and the two duel. Hercules nearly defeats Amphitryon but Iphicles holds Hebe hostage and threatens to kill her if Hercules does not let Amphitryon go. Hercules hesitates but Hebe thrusts the dagger through her shoulder, killing Iphicles. Hercules finally avenges Alcmene’s death and kills Amphitryon with the same blade that killed his mother. Hercules rushes to Hebe’s side as she slowly drifts into unconsciousness. Nearly a year later, the cries of a baby are heard. Hebe gives birth to a beautiful baby boy. Hercules looks on lovingly at his new family. That night, he watches over his kingdom, finally fulfilling his destiny.

REVIEW:

In high school and college, I made sure to not miss an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. As a matter of fact, watching those shows helped me pass a couple of tests, if you can believe that. While they were exaggerated a bit, it was still the Herculean story. I cannot say the same about The Legend of Hercules, though.

What is this about?

Springing from classical legend, the hero Hercules is born half-human and half-god and chosen by destiny to overthrow the cruel king of Greece. Hercules also longs for the heart of Princess Hebe and must ultimately choose between love and war.

What did I like?

Good start. Starting off with a nice origin to how Hercules came into this world is how you would imagine this film to start. Good job, there. Fast forward a little bit and Hercules is fighting the Nemean lion, at least that’s what I assumed, but it very well could have been a regular lion. After that, though, we seem to lose the Hercules part of the film, which I will get into later, but I must give props to the way the film manages to start off, and perhaps trick the audience into liking it from the beginning.

Kratos, is that you? In the last act, when we finally get some action, Hercules apparently invokes Kratos from the God of War video game series (ironically, Hercules appears in God of War III as a boss and is voiced by Kevin Sorbo). He ask Zeus for help and his sword becomes electricity. The way the effects look make it appear as if it is one of the weapons from the game. While I don’t care for the Kratos aspect, it was pretty cool to see.

Hera. For some reason, this film was determined to keep Hercules grounded and in the real world. As a result, there are no monsters, Gods, etc. to be seen. However, Hera does talk through a priestess to Alcmene before Hercules is conceived and Zeus appears as an eagle later in the picture. Good to see that while they are trying to make this a more realistic picture, which I am not a fan of, they didn’t ignore the gods that shape who Hercules is, to some degree.

What didn’t I like?

Love story. Last I checked, Hercules’ legend wasn’t about his love life, so why is it such a major part of this film? Where were the trials? What about Hercules’ amazing strength? The one time they showed that was near the end, and it was felt like they were trying to make him Sampson from the bible, rather than Hercules. Say what you will about Disney’s Hercules, at least they let Hercules be a demigod and then threw in a slight love story. Maybe this film should have taken notes!

Twirl your moustache. Scott Adkins deserves better than this. The guy is an accomplished martial artists and stuntman. He just went toe to toe with Jason Statham in The Expendables 2, and that isn’t something that is easy to do. As King Amphitryon, he comes off as a cartoon villain. Cliche’ lines and chewed up scenery will do that. Ipichles is just as bad, if not worse with his constant bitching about Hebe not loving him, but he still wants to marry her just to keep her away from Hercules.

Small. Kellan Lutz is a big, muscle-bound guy, but I don’t think he was big enough to be Hercules (or carry this film). Kevin Sorbo wasn’t exactly huge during his Hercules days, but he was big enough to be convincing, plus he’s tall, so that helped. Lutz just doesn’t have the build that we have come to expect. While I’m on the subject of Lutz, the guy isn’t unlikable, but he does not have the acting chops to carry what was intended to be a major film. He shows little to no emotion throughout this film, but I can’t blame that solely on him, as this script is horrible. Maybe he’ll get another chance, but in the meantime, we wait for the next Hercules film to be released.

The Legend of Hercules was universally panned by critics and audiences. I myself has trouble staying awake through most of it and by the time it finally got to the good stuff, there was just no reason to even bother. What kind of film of this nature has gladiator fights and such, but no blood? Well, Pompeii did, but that’s a different story. So, let’s get right to the final verdict, shall we? Is this worth watching? No, you’re better off watching Gladiator, Hercules, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, or the upcoming Hercules starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Keep away, if you know what’s good for you.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

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One Response to “The Legend of Hercules”

  1. […] after the abomination that was The Legend of Hercules, are we ready for Hercules, yet another film that brings us the life and times of one of the most […]

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