Welcome to a new year with the Culture Conquistadors! This year, we’re all planning (and hoping) to bring you new content more frequently. For my part, I’m starting a new series of movie reviews. Each week, I’ll write about a paragraph on each film with some plot synopsis and opinion. I’ll grade each film I see and then part with some general thoughts on the week.
The Legend of Hercules
My first movie for 2014: Legend of Hercules. As usual, I did not see this movie in 3D.1 The screening I saw was advertised as 2D, though it’s hard to argue that this film has more than one dimension. This 99 minute action flick was likely meant to be the beginning of a franchise but it’s inevitable failure at the box office got it re-titled and released in the January wasteland. I caught glimpses of a larger narrative arc, likely meant to be drawn out in subsequent installments, but as its own film, Legend of Hercules fails to string much in the way of good plot together. Hercules is sent away to Egypt to die at his earthly father’s behest. He and his company’s captain survive at mercy of their ambusher’s hands. They are quickly sold into slavery and fight their way back to Greece in hopes of saving Hercules’ love interest from an arranged marriage to his wimpy half-brother. Not much stands out in this movie except for the freeze framing of the fight sequences, meant to promote the 3D version that I never saw. The other thing that stands out is just how far they strayed from the mythological source texts. The only resemblance this Hercules has with the Greek Heracles is that they’re both supernaturally strong men.2 The names of the characters in the movie mirror the myth. Yet this movie could have just scratched off the serial numbers3 and used any name out of a hat for the story they tell. I might have been more willing to accept this movie as just a new Hellenic myth; instead it plies the name of Hercules in for marketing purposes. I’m honestly not sure it could be a worse film. Or that any other 2014 film could be worse. So it looks like I got my worst movie of the year out of the way early. Hopefully the other Hercules production later this year (starring The Rock!) will be better.
I also happened to catch Mark Wahlberg in Lone Survivor this week, but seeing as that movie counts towards last year, I’m leaving it out of this post. Hercules was pretty bad and I think it will stay near the bottom of my 2014 rankings; fortunately, Marky Mark evened out the balance this week with his great 2013 performance.
Podcast listeners will know that 3D makes me ill.↩
I’m fairly sure this is a far worse adaptation than even Kevin Sorbo’s television Hercules. Or Disney’s animated Hercules.↩
The use of a character, object or place and only renaming it. For example, as a RPG game master I need a diverse cast of enemies but I am often limited to a small set of usable monsters with approrpiate game mechanics. So I file off the serial numbers of an orc, removing all the exposition and description that makes it an orc and re-write it as if it were a goblin. I then use the newly minted goblin as an enemy instead even though, through the lens of game mechanics, it’s just an orc.↩