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The Legend of Hercules (Blu-ray Review)

The Legend of Hercules - www.whysoblu.com2014 is the year of Hercules. We’ll have Hercules starring Dwayne Johnson in the titular role, which will be directed by Brett Ratner. For now we have The Legend of Hercules starring Kellan Lutz and directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, The Long Kiss Goodnight). You know, the more the merrier, I say, since I am a fan of Greek mythology, I do like when films depict the subject. Most of them do not get it right but one can’t say that they’re not at least sort of interesting. Let’s give The Legend of Hercules a spin and see if the film is at least a little bit interesting. Shall we begin? 

 

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Film 

The latest Hercules film entitled The Legend of Hercules is a sort of origin-namesake type of film. King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) rules Greece and takes what he wants from neighboring kingdoms and assimilates them as his own – their people, lands, and wealth all for him. Queen Alcmene, tired of her husband’s blood lust strikes a deal with the Goddess Hera, who so happens to be Zeus’ wife. Zeus also happens to be King of the Gods. Now why Hera would be striking deals for Zeus is beyond me – I guess that makes her a pretty efficient middleman, err, middle woman. This deal involves Zeus taking Queen Alcmene for a night and getting her pregnant with the child that will grow up to be the demigod Hercules. Hercules is destined to bring peace back to the Greek kingdom.

As you can see The Legend of Hercules takes the origin way back to before the womb. 20 years later Hercules, going by the name Alcides, because we gotta keep Hercules’ namesake on the down low, carries on in the kingdom as King Amphitryon’s bastard stepson, the apple of his mother’s eye, and plays second fiddle to King Amphitryon’s son Iphicles. Alcides/Hercules is in love with the beautiful Hebe (Gaia Weiss), but because this brings happiness to the young man Amphitryon promises her to Iphicles and sends Hercules off on a suicide mission with Sotiris (Liam McIntyre), who is Captain of the Guard for Amphitryon’s army.

It’s fairly simple: Hercules and Sotiris have to go dispatch some folks that have an alleged grievance with King Amphitryon and make it back to Greece in one piece. This, however, will prove to be a problem, because Tarak (Johnathan Schaech rocking a truly awful cornrow wig) is the leader of what looks to be an Egyptian troupe. Beaten and captured by this group of soldiers they’re quickly sold off into slavery where they will have to do battle in the mud pits against gladiators, or pit fighters, if you will. It’s their only ticket out of there and Hercules and Sotiris have no choice but to make it back and set the wrong things right again.

Some of you might be saying that 2-stars for the movie is ridiculous. You’re right. It’s beyond ridiculous. I just can’t deny the fact that the film is so damn fun and entertaining! I was really surprised at how much fun I had watching a toned down PG-13 Greek mythology film. Some of the tweaks here and there, especially with the interpretation of the Gods were sort of unique and even the fluffy lion whose hide can’t be pierced with a spear was cool looking. The Legend of Hercules had all the right ingredients for B-movie excess. I read up on the film and it said that the budget was 70 million. I was floored by that figure, because it doesn’t look like they spent more that 15-20 million on it. Creative accounting perhaps? I don’t know.

Kellan Lutz as Hercules is somewhat miscast and sounds an awful lot like Chris Hemsworth when he speaks but makes up for it during the battle scenes. Those scenes of battle are choreographed fairly well even though they’re not as bloody as something you would see in 300 or the Spartacus television series. I got past that pretty quick, because you will feel the brutal hits. Scott Adkins chewing up the scenery is also a cool addition to the film and the fact that he, Lutz, and McIntyre did all of their own stunt work elevates the film a bit more. Seriously, this is a film that one would think is one of the worst adaptations of Greek mythology ever made, but it’s not.

Renny Harlin shows some enthusiasm behind the camera as he stages lots of complicated action set pieces. I do think that some of the green screen work is weak at times but then there are times where it looks really good as does the cinematography. I could sit here and write all day about what I liked and disliked about the movie but that would be a waste of our time. The Legend of Hercules is disposable film entertainment at its finest and a rental is more than worth it. Please keep in mind that this review is of the 2D version. I did notice that the film had many instances of objects flying towards the camera, etc., so they obviously filmed it with the 3D format in mind. Both versions are included on a single disc.

The Legend of Hercules - www.whysoblu.com

Video 

Encoding: AVC MPEG-4 (3D MVC)

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Details: Contrast levels were steady throughout as were sharpness levels. I did not detect any intrusive tampering with the image even though I know that they probably tweaked the film in post. The only time I noticed any discrepancies were during obvious green screen work. Some of the background plates looked slightly off and with a transfer this sharp there’s no hiding obvious CGI work.

Depth: The 2D version of Hercules was amazing. It may not have been the 3D version but the 2D version is certainly nothing to scoff at.

Black Levels: Several major scenes take place at night and in the shadows and this transfer handles them flawlessly. The only “crush” I detected was Hercules crushing his enemies with his bare hands!

Color Representation: The color palette is bold and quite colorful – the cinematography enhances some of the natural beauty of the locations used in filming. Once we get to closer quarters the golden hues, fire lit surroundings give off a warm vibe.

Flesh Tones: Everyone looked healthy and natural – you could see pores, beads of sweat, and blood splatter in glorious detail.

Noise/Artifacts: I only noticed a few scenes that had anomalies here and there but it was no big deal. I believe this was shot in digital and the digital file looks great.

The Legend of Hercules - www.whysoblu.com

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 7.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Optimized for Late Night Listening, English Descriptive Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: The Legend of Hercules was timed as a vast epic therefore the sound field is opened up to the extreme. From the thunderous opening to the hush instances of an embrace the contrast between scenes of stillness and balls to wall action is amazing.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel gets the ultimate workout on this aggressive as it supplements the already heavy bass levels with an even greater push.

Surround Sound Presentation: Arrows, lightning bolts, rain, fireballs, and everything in between circle from the front to the back and all around with dynamic results.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are absolutely stellar. The audio on this Blu-ray is reference but rest assured you will be able to hear what’s being said clearly, without distortion and without being drowned out by the onscreen action.

The Legend of Hercules - www.whysoblu.com

Extras 

The extras are very light and only include a short making of featurette that is exclusive to the Blu-ray format and an audio commentary track featuring actor Kellan Lutz and director Renny Harlin.

  • Audio Commentary with Director Renny Harlin and Kellan Lutz – Here’s a very entertaining audio commentary with director Renny Harlin and actor Kellan Lutz where they talk about the film in detail anecdotes and all. It’s a pretty entertaining commentary, because they both had fun making the film. It translates into a very fun commentary.
  • The Making of The Legend of Hercules – (HD, 14:46) – This featurette runs just under 15 minutes and is exclusive to the Blu-ray, which takes on a behind-the-scenes journey on what went into the making of the film. The stunt work is very impressive and yes those are the actual actors doing their own stunts.

 

The Legend of Hercules - www.whysoblu.com

Summary 

Look, The Legend of Hercules is not going to win an award for anything. It’s extremely self-aware of what type of movie it wants to be and it makes no apologies for it. My one regret is that it’s PG-13. Some of the cutaways are awkward but some of the hits are effective. It is what is and the Blu-ray helps the cause by providing a 3D version and 2D version with near reference video and a very powerful reference soundtrack. The supplements are light but the audio commentary with the boys is fun and very entraining. I would definitely suggest The Legend of Hercules as a legit time-waster.

 

 

Order The Legend of Hercules on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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