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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Legend of Hercules

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Kellan Lutz stars in a scene from the movie "The Legend of Hercules."
An embarrassingly weak film about the personification of strength, the 3-D action adventure "The Legend of Hercules" (Summit) is nothing short of woeful.

Adult viewers may be too distracted by the film's aesthetic shortcomings to notice the mostly innocuous nature of its vulgarity-free script on which director Renny Harlin collaborated with three others: Daniel Giat, Sean Hood and Giulio Steve.

Co-starring with his own pectoral muscles, Kellan Lutz, veteran of the "Twilight" franchise, takes on the title role.

But first we get the background story: Tired of her power-hungry husband, King Amphitryon's (Scott Adkins) warlike ways, Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) of the Greek city-state Tiryns prayed to the goddess Hera for peace.

Through a priestess, Hera responded to Alcmene's plea by granting her permission to sleep with Zeus, Hera's own hubby, so that the pair could conceive a hero who would deliver the realm from Amphitryon's tyranny. Cut to Alcmene rolling around on her bed as thunder rumbles in the background, and nine months later, along comes baby Hercules.

Once grown and buff, Hercules falls for fetching foreign royalty in the person of Princess Hebe (Gaia Weiss). But mean old Amphitryon—who knows that Hercules is not his son, though he's unaware of the lad's divine paternity—has other plans. Namely, to contract a purely political marriage between Hebe and his heir, Hercules' cowardly half-brother Prince Iphicles (Liam Garrigan). Hebe, who knows a craven black hat when she sees one, doesn't like the idea one bit.

The better to get Hercules out of the way, Amphitryon sends him on a doomed military expedition. But, as the old saying goes, you can't keep a good future deity down. So, despite such travails as being enslaved, branded and forced to fight as a gladiator, we know it's only a matter of time till Hercules makes a triumphant comeback.

Along the way, vaguely drawn and passing parallels are made between Hercules and Jesus. Thus the people of Tiryns repeatedly hail Hercules as their savior, and a climactic scene finds him offering his own life for those of his comrades while hanging in chains in roughly the posture of Christ on the cross.

While not offensive to Christian sensibilities, these sketchy allusions are as ineptly handled as every other element in Harlin's lump of mythological lead.

The dialogue displays a firm grasp of the obvious, falling flower petals signal that it's time for Hercules and Hebe to go all the way, while rain falls in sheets whenever a battle commences. As for the performances, they're uniformly as wooden as that horse the Greeks gave the Trojans.

The film contains considerable but bloodless combat violence, a suicide, implied premarital sexual activity, scenes of sensuality and mature references. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III —adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Anthony Claret: The "spiritual father of Cuba" was a missionary, religious founder, social reformer, queen’s chaplain, writer and publisher, archbishop and refugee. He was a Spaniard whose work took him to the Canary Islands, Cuba, Madrid, Paris and to the First Vatican Council. 
<p>In his spare time as weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, he learned Latin and printing: The future priest and publisher was preparing. Ordained at 28, he was prevented by ill health from entering religious life as a Carthusian or as a Jesuit, but went on to become one of Spain’s most popular preachers. </p><p>He spent 10 years giving popular missions and retreats, always placing great emphasis on the Eucharist and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her rosary, it was said, was never out of his hand. At 42, beginning with five young priests, he founded a religious institute of missionaries, known today as the Claretians. </p><p>He was appointed to head the much-neglected archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba. He began its reform by almost ceaseless preaching and hearing of confessions, and suffered bitter opposition mainly for opposing concubinage and giving instruction to black slaves. A hired assassin (whose release from prison Anthony had obtained) slashed open his face and wrist. Anthony succeeded in getting the would-be assassin’s death sentence commuted to a prison term. His solution for the misery of Cubans was family-owned farms producing a variety of foods for the family’s own needs and for the market. This invited the enmity of the vested interests who wanted everyone to work on a single cash crop—sugar. Besides all his religious writings are two books he wrote in Cuba: <i>Reflections on Agriculture</i> and <i>Country Delights</i>. </p><p>He was recalled to Spain for a job he did not relish—being chaplain for the queen. He went on three conditions: He would reside away from the palace, he would come only to hear the queen’s confession and instruct the children and he would be exempt from court functions. In the revolution of 1868, he fled with the queen’s party to Paris, where he preached to the Spanish colony. </p><p>All his life Anthony was interested in the Catholic press. He founded the Religious Publishing House, a major Catholic publishing venture in Spain, and wrote or published 200 books and pamphlets. </p><p>At Vatican I, where he was a staunch defender of the doctrine of infallibility, he won the admiration of his fellow bishops. Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore remarked of him, "There goes a true saint." At the age of 63, he died in exile near the border of Spain.</p> American Catholic Blog The greatest tragedy of our world is that men do not know, really know, that God loves them. Some believe it in a shadowy sort of way. If they were to really think about it they would soon realize that their belief in God’s love for them is very remote and abstract. Because of this lack of realization of God’s love for them, men do not know how to love God back. —Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 
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