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The Legend Of Hercules (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Way back when, in the ye old times of the year two thousand and fourteen, there were two cinematic adventures of the half man half god Hercules at the box office for the enjoyment of those seeking entertainment. One boasted a behemoth, bonafide megastar. The other, Kellan Lutz. Today we’re here to talk about the one with Kellan Lutz, which unlike the one with Dwayne Johnson, is coming to the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format. So…take that, other Hercules movie. You’ll be able to find The Legend of Hercules from Lionsgate when it comes on September 19th. If you are really looking forward to this one, I suggest the Amazon pre-order link at the bottom of this review as the best method to ensure you have a copy when it releases. And hey, as of writing this, its only like $16 right now!

Film 

As the son of Zeus, king of the gods, and a mortal woman, Hercules is blessed with extraordinary strength. Caught in a forbidden love, Hercules is exiled by his stepfather, the king, and sold into slavery. The legendary strongman endures harrowing battles and death matches in the gladiators arena, and must use his formidable powers to fight his way back to his rightful kingdom, overthrow its traitorous ruler and restore peace to the land.

Renny Harlin’s name on this gave me a slim hope of optimism for this film. He was one of the best action directors of the 1990s by far and I also really quite enjoyed his John Cena throwback 12 Rounds from some years back. Unfortunately, there was none of his magic present here. This honestly, aside from his namesake in the credits, shows no sign of his craft at all. The style is a direct knock off of the work of Zack Snyder and Guy Ritchie. And many of the stories and sequence here are a mix of The 300, Spartacus or Gladiator. Hell, a random episode of the Starz television sereis is likely more impressive and engaging than this. All of it is tired and uninteresting. And I feel like Harlin may have been uninterested too.

Speaking of uninteresting, who thought Kellan Lutz would be a good idea to lead this? There is zero charisma here and the guy just isn’t very good. Maybe he just doesn’t lend himself to period-centric films. And its not just him, the rest of the cast just feels like guys and gals that were rejected from all of the films and televisions shows I’ve mentioned. Scott Adkins may be the best of the bunch, as he’s super gung ho, but that’s also saying a little bit of something.  I hate to be bagging on everyone, but a better cast version of this movie may have gone a long way to make it at least mediocre to be quite honest.

This film didn’t turn out any different than I expected. I went in optimistic that it would just be mediocre, but it barely even achieved that. It felt as if it was just some other Spartan knock off that could have been straight to video or OnDemand. It thinks its impressing you with action and visuals that you realize you’ve seen many time before (and better) and you’re tired of. Not to mention, its got a weak ass lead to go along with a dull, uninteresting story. There is nothing here to save this movie at all.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Well, despite the 4K Ultra-HD upgrade, this film was always crisp, clean and sharp looking. Its a bright and overly polished film. I could continually mention The 300 movies, but that’s the exact look these things are going for. Its a very digital clean looking image and the details shine through quite well. In terms of upgrade, this one serves as a small uptick over the already very good looking Blu-ray.

Depth:  Renny Harlin’s film was shot for and intended for 3-D, so it plays very well in such a degree of foreground/middleground and background relations. Everything moves quite smoothly with a swift sense of confidence. Dimensional work is especially well served in the many…MANY slow motion sequences that happen with all the action in the film. Some of the crispness and overglosssing going with the digital image also renders it looking a bit fake at times too.

Black Levels: Blacks serve well in keeping deep and naturally dark. The dark, night sequence see an uptick in quality in terms of shading and holding on to the film’s details. No crushing was witnessed during the viewing for the review of this title.

Color Reproduction: Colors are moreso on the natural side of things and are bright and bold. Golds, yellows and browns seem to be the most prominent and pristine here. There is some glow, but the HDR work comes off here as ineffective and not really noticeable or enhancing. But, in the film’s defense, a lot of the easier colors to showcase this in a film are not present in the film’s palette to begin with.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a little bronzy and tanned up for everyone in the film, by its intended nature, and keeps a consistent look from start to finish. Details are clear as day from any given distance, like sweat, dried dirt, wrinkles, stubble, dimples, freckles and more.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), English 2.0 Dolby Digital Optimized for Late Night Listening, English Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Like many of these Lionsgate modern catalog titles, it feels like all the attention went to the Atmos track rather than the video. This is yet another free, loose, and impressive experience with “blah” film that really shows good mixing ability and balance with the effects, vocals and score. The dynamic range is good and the sounds have layers and depth to them. I wish Lionsgate wouldn’t be so ho hum on their video and really deliver something like they do with their fresh new audio mixes.

Height: Not too extravaggant, but the ceiling speakers do make their presence known. Some spears and other fight sounds can whiz by when appropriate. Storms also will involve the ceiling in their ambiance.

Low Frequency Extension: Big hits in the music, the stomping of large animals, large crowd roaring, thuds and such are all striking from the subwoofer with good resonance.

Surround Sound Presentation: A nice loose journey from speaker to speaker here with the action in the film fully and accurately realized in its placement. The film itself isn’t very fun, but hearing the sounds travel around is.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are loud crisp and clear. They fit well into the mix and are audible at every turn.

Extras 

The Legend of Hercules comes with the Blu-ray edition and an UltraViolet digital copy. Bonus content is the exact same the previous Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3-D release.

Audio Commentary

  • With Kellan Lutz and Director Renny Harlin

The Making Of The Legend Of Hercules (HD, 14:16) 

Summary 

If you enjoyed this film, good for you.  I struggled to get through this whole thing. Granted, I’m not the biggest 300-type fan, but I also am not against these type of movies either. This 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray comes with a minimal jump in quality from the former Blu-ray in terms of video, but does kick the ass the movie didn’t with its Atmos. Only the biggest fans need apply for Lionsgate’s upgrade.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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