Home Movie News Kellan Lutz ‘Hercules’ Movie Is Critical Catastrophe + ‘Montezuma’: Castle in the Air or Next Spielberg Project?

Kellan Lutz ‘Hercules’ Movie Is Critical Catastrophe + ‘Montezuma’: Castle in the Air or Next Spielberg Project?


Shirtless Kellan Lutz in The Legend of Hercules, with Gaia Weiss.

Kellan Lutz ‘Hercules’ movie: Zero percent Rotten Tomatoes approval rating

Starring Kellan Lutz, best known as the hunky and likable vampire Emmett in the Twilight movies, The Legend of Hercules opens on Jan. 10, 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 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ critics and a dismal 2.3/10 average. It can’t get much worse than that.

‘The Legend of Hercule’s 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.


Montezuma: Castle in the air or movie-to-be?

‘Montezuma’: Castle in the air or next Steven Spielberg movie (or some time in the future)?

Will Steven Spielberg next tackle the life and times of Aztec king Montezuma, from a screenplay by none other than former Hollywood Ten member Dalton Trumbo? If so, that won’t be the first time that Spielberg has adapted a Trumbo screenplay (more on that below). Anyhow, following Lincoln, which earned Spielberg his seventh Best Director Academy Award nomination, the Jaws, E.T., Schindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan filmmaker has had his name attached to – and then detached from – a couple of projects.

First, there was Drew Goddard’s adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson’s novel Robopocalypse, which isn’t a RoboCop spin-off but a sci-fier about a smart robot who reaches the (perfectly logical) conclusion that the only way to save the planet is to get rid of human beings.

Robopocalypse, however, was set aside so Spielberg could focus on the Warner Bros. project American Sniper, to be produced by Bradley Cooper, who would also star in the title role as a Navy SEAL sniper who shot dead more than 150 people and who was himself shot dead by a fellow war veteran supposedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. But then Spielberg dropped out of the project, reportedly due to budget-related issues.

And now, reports Deadline.com, enters Montezuma, based on a 48-year-old screenplay by Dalton Trumbo that is currently being rewritten by Steven Zaillian. In case the project does get off the ground, Montezuma is to be produced by Zaillian, with Academy Award winner Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) rumored to star as Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes a.k.a. Hernán Cortés, whose point of view is depicted in the screenplay. (Note: Zaillian’s Exodus, directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Christian Bale as Moses, has little in common with Otto Preminger’s 1960 Exodus, a flag-waving political drama about the birth of the State of Israel, which Dalton Trumbo adapted from Leon Uri’s novel.)

Originally written in 1965 for Kirk Douglas, with whom Dalton Trumbo collaborated on Spartacus (1960) and Lonely Are the Brave (1962), Montezuma was to have been directed by Martin Ritt (Hud, Norma Rae). The project never got off the ground, possibly because Kirk Douglas’ box office power dwindled rather rapidly in the late ’60s.

Dalton Trumbo: Oscar-winning blacklisted screenwriter

Dalton Trumbo’s screenwriting career went from 1936 to 1971. Among his most important movie credits are the screenplays (solo or in collaboration) for Sam Wood’s Kitty Foyle (1940), which earned Ginger Rogers a Best Actress Oscar; Victor Fleming’s World War II blockbuster fantasy A Guy Named Joe (1943), starring Spencer Tracy, Irene Dunne, and Van Johnson – and which Steven Spielberg remade as Always in 1989; and Joseph H. Lewis’ cult classic film noir Gun Crazy (1949), with Jon Dall and Peggy Cummins.

During his years as a blacklisted screenwriter, two Dalton Trumbo efforts (solo or in collaboration) won Academy Awards: Roman Holiday (1953), directed by William Wyler, and starring Gregory Peck and Best Actress Oscar winner Audrey Hepburn (Trumbo received no screen credit); and, billed as “Robert Rich,” The Brave One (1956), directed by Irving Rapper, and featuring Michael Ray as a Mexican boy who tries to save his adopted pet bull from certain death at the bullfighting ring.

Trumbo’s The Brave One win made Oscar history, as the shamefaced Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences belatedly discovered that its members had selected an original story written by a nonexistent screenwriter – rumored to have been a front for a blacklistee. (Blacklisted screenwriters were banned not only from working in Hollywood, but also from being nominated for Academy Awards.)

Dalton Trumbo came back with the 1960 releases Exodus and Spartacus. Among his movie credits of the 1960s were the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton melodrama The Sandpiper (1965) and John Frankenheimer’s political drama The Fixer (1968), featuring Alan Bates and Dirk Bogarde. Trumbo would direct only one movie, the brilliant anti-war drama Johnny Got His Gun (1971), starring Timothy Bottoms. He died at age 70 in 1976 in Los Angeles.

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Steve -

I actually quite liked this movie. I can’t believe how much hate it gets. It’s really not as bad as all that. I have seen a lot lot worse.

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