A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Legend of Hercules is a fantasy adventure based on the Greek myth of Hercules, the demigod son of Zeus. The movie contains a mix of stylized and realistic violence that leads to a high body count: sword fights, battle scenes, hangings, and up-close deaths. Hercules and his beloved Hebe kiss passionately several times and make love once, but all that is visible is shoulders and backs.
What's the story?
THE LEGEND OF HERCULES follows the origin story of the Greek demigod Hercules (which is actually the Roman name for Heracles), son of the god Zeus and the mortal Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee). Upset by her husband, the bloodthirsty King Amphitryon's (Scott Adkins) power-hungry wars, Alcmene begs the gods to stop him. As an answer to Alcmene's prayers, the goddess Hera allows Zeus to impregnate her with a son to be referred to as Hercules. The strapping baby boy grows up to be the barrel-chested Alcides (Kellan Lutz), who's in love with the neighboring kingdom of Crete's Princess Hebe (Gaia Weiss). Unfortunately for Hercules, his father the king betrothes his older brother (Iphicles) to Hebe. Unwilling to accept the wedding, Hercules is ordered away to Egypt, where he's sold as a slave and eventually returns to Greece as a fighter intent on winning his freedom and reclaiming the love of his life -- while also accepting his identity as Zeus' son.
Is it any good?
Unless you are going solely for the excuse to stare at shirtless actors for 99 minutes, there's no reason to bother with Hercules. The action sequences are poor imitations of Gladiator, 300, and nearly every other ancient-legend drama, and the dialogue is laughable but not laughable enough to make the action-adventure campy or "so bad it's good."
Lutz looks and acts like a bleached and tanned college kid who spends all his time in the gym, and his beloved Princess Hebe is apparently only capable of one facial expression -- whether she's staring at a half-naked Hercules emerging from water, contemplating jumping to her death to escape an arranged marriage, or grieving her love's supposed death. The one bright spot in the cast is Liam McIntyre, who starred as Andy Whitfield's replacement on the Starz show Spartacus. He's a talented actor who deserves more than this forgettable swords-and-sandals fare.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why movies about Greek myths and legends are still so popular. What other myths do you think should be adapted into a movie?
Does the movie seem positioned for a sequel? Originally the movie was called Hercules: The Legend Begins but then it changed; do you think there should be a sequel?
Discuss the violence. Does the impact of violence change whether it's realistic or stylized?
- In theaters: January 10, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: April 29, 2014
- Cast: Gaia Weiss, Kellan Lutz, Scott Adkins
- Director: Renny Harlin
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of intense combat action and violence, and for some sensuality
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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