Starring Kellan Lutz, best known as the hunky and likable vampire Emmett in the Twilight movies, The Legend of Hercules opens today, January 10, 2014, in North America. That's the good news for Kellan Lutz fans. Now, the bad news: The Legend of Hercules isn't about to become the next Spartacus -- or even the next Gladiator. "The only thing epic about The Legend of Hercules is what a failure it is," writes Stephanie Merry in the Washington Post, while Newsday's Rafer Guzman's complains that "this painfully feeble version of the strongman story fails on every level, from Lutz's wooden acting to the styrofoam special effects."
In fact, out of 35 reviews, the Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate Pictures release has a 0% approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' critics and a dismal 2.3/10 average. It can't get much worse than that.
'The Legend of Hercules' plot
According to Summit's press release, The Legend of Hercules stars Kellan Lutz "as the mythical Greek hero -- the son of Zeus, a half-god, half-man blessed with extraordinary strength." Betrayed by his stepfather, King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), Hercules "is exiled and sold into slavery because of a forbidden love." He must then "fight his way back to his rightful kingdom. Through harrowing battles and gladiator-arena death matches, Hercules embarks on a legendary odyssey to overthrow the King and restore peace to the land."
Apparently missing from this retelling of the Hercules myth is the Hydra (not the Minotaur, as in a previous version of this post) and other Labors, which feels sort of like telling the story of Helen of Troy without the Trojan Horse. "It's a mystery why Harlin and his writers decided to eschew all the juicy bits of Herculean lore for this dull idealized interpretation," laments Susan Wloszczyna at RogerEbert.com.
'The Legend of Hercules': Low box office expectations
Directed by Renny Harlin, whose credits include Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger, and The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Legend of Hercules cost a reported $70 million. Box office expectations are -- to put it mildly -- unenthusiastic, at least in North America.
It remains to be seen how The Legend of Hercules will fare internationally, as action movies with special effects tend to perform particularly well in a number of key markets. For instance, back in late 2011 Tarsem Singh's similarly themed, $75 million-budgeted Immortals went on to collect $83.5 million in North America and considerably more impressive $143.4 million internationally. Immortals stars Man of Steel's Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto, Isabel Lucas, Stephen Dorff, and Kellan Lutz himself as the god Poseidon.
Besides Kellan Lutz and Scott Adkins, The Legend of Hercules also features Gaia Weiss, Liam Garrigan, Roxanne McKee, Rade Serbedzija, Liam McIntyre, Johnathon Schaech, Luke Newberry, and Kenneth Cranham.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, the Bret Rattner-directed Hercules, which apparently also opts to leave out the 12 Labors of Hercules, opens on July 25, 2014. Besides Johnson, the Hercules cast includes Joseph Fiennes, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Rufus Sewell, Robert Maillet, and Peter Mullan.
Previous film Hercules-es include Lou Ferrigno, who starred opposite Sybil Danning in Luigi Cozzi.'s 1983 critical and commercial bomb Hercules, and Steve Reeves, the star of Pietro Francisci's 1958 sword-and-sandal epic Hercules / Le fatiche di Ercole, also featuring Sylva Koscina. Additionally, Arnold Schwarzenegger (as Arnold Strong) starred in Arthur Allan Seidelman's little-seen 1969 fantasy adventure Hercules in New York.
Kellan Lutz movies
Kellan Lutz was featured in all five Twilight Saga movies, starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and, from the second installment onwards, Taylor Lautner: Twilight (2008), New Moon (2009), Eclipse (2010), Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011), and Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012). (Things were briefly touch and go when it came to Lutz's and Ashley Greene's participation in the Breaking Dawn movies.)
Additionally, Kellan Lutz has been featured in Aram Rappaport's comedy-drama Syrup, with Amber Heard and Brittany Snow; Reinhard Klooss' motion-capture animated Tarzan, with Spencer Locke as Jane; and Conor Allyn's Java Heat, with Mickey Rourke and Rio Dewanto.
A few more Kellan Lutz movies: Michael F. Sears' A Warrior's Heart, with fellow Twilight player Ashley Greene and Gabrielle Anwar; Samuel Bayer's A Nightmare on Elm Street remake, with Jackie Earle Haley; and Mikey Hilb's Deep Winter, with Eric Lively.
Gaia Weiss and shirtless Kellan Lutz in The Legend of Hercules: Summit Entertainment / Lionsgate Pictures.