Monday, November 24, 2014

Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) vs. The Legend of Hercules (Kellan Lutz)


If you are looking for a good popcorn movie, Dwayne Johnson delivers in his portrayal of Hercules.  In comparison, Kellan Lutz's Hercules falls a little flat for me.


In the Legend of Hercules, we meet the son of Zeus 20 years after a very elaborate conception. He is the rambunctious second son of a vicious king, and he is in love with a princess betrothed to his brother.  After an act of defiance, he is exiled.  He becomes a slave then a rebel. (Isn't this all sounding familiar...Gladiator, anyone?).  Hercules is on a quest to reach and rescue the woman he loves.

In Hercules, we meet the son of Zeus well after his labors of legend and we meet his comrades - a ragtag group of extraordinary warriors.  They are mercenaries and their quest is for gold - simple.  However, in the midst of his mercenary efforts, Hercules changes his character. 

Action & Costumes

Legend definitely has more action and more effects than Hercules.  But the effects in Legend are borrowed mercilessly from 300.  Speaking of which, why was the king in Legend a blatant rip off of "King Leonidas" in 300?  Come on! Gerard Butler owns that, so please leave "Leonidas" to him. Meanwhile, the fight scenes in Legend were still very pretty.  Some ultra stylized, some brutal and intimate, but lots of fights, almost becoming repetitive.  I would say that people who loved Gladiator (Russell Crowe), and do not mind the filmmakers ripping from 300, would be more interested in The Legend of Hercules for its story and action.

Hercules however was more strategic with its action.  The opening sequence was unfortunately almost identical to the opening in The Scorpion King (Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock), but it was informative as it introduced his team encompassing some of the cooler actors associated with period pieces.  The battles were somewhat short but were a major part of the storytelling and everybody had their share of the screen to show off specific skills, which were awesome.  It's good to have multiple, important warriors so that the fights do not become repetitive.  If you like the ensemble action sequences in say The Avengers then this action movie may be more interesting.

Costumes in Hercules were almost forgettable, almost, except for that lion pelt, wow really?? Legend may beat Hercules in the costume department, though the Roman soldiers' outfits looked a bit cheap.

Cast & Characters

Legend had an ok cast, but I must say it was great to see Liam McIntyre ("Spartacus" himself from the hit Starz! series Spartacus: Vengeance & Spartacus: War of the Damned), though it was a typecast.  Kellan Lutz was not bad as Hercules either.  Lutz exuded power and resilience as expected but was also playing the younger, spritely, na├»ve Hercules that is not too appealing to me.  Besides Spartacus, the supporting cast was forgettable except for the brother, Iphicles, played by Liam Garrigan (from Starz! mini-series The Pillars of the Earth), who plays sleazy very well.

Hercules, I think, boasted the better ensemble though, especially with the amazing Rebecca Ferguson (from Starz! mini-series The White Queen) whose performance as Ergenia lifts this story to another level without spoiling its popcorn movie effect, which is fully enhanced by Ian McShane (The Pillars of the Earth) as Amphiaraus, the quippy seer.  Rufus Sewell (A Knight's Tale, and also The Pillars of the Earth) as Autolycus rounded out a very interesting circle of warriors.  Dwayne Johnson as Hercules was physically impressive as expected, but also portrayed an introspective warrior with some surprising layers.  Though, he is still a fun-loving giant in this too, so keep smiling.

Come to think of it, it seems both of these sword-and-sandals popcorn movies dipped from the same casting well, taking players from the Starz! camp, especially The Pillars of the Earth, making my eyes cross a bit from all the cross-referencing.  (Nugget: there is even a familiar extra in both movies for those of you who pay attention to these things.)

My overall opinion is that both are enjoyable popcorn movies, but Hercules is the better.
Just to be perfectly clear though, these reboots tried and failed to replace the ONLY Hercules - Kevin Sorbo.
Kevin Sorbo & PopcornMovieMaiden @ Awesome Con 2014 - Washington, D.C.

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