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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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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, keep me in your care. Guard me in my actions. Teach me to love, and help me to turn to you throughout the day. The world is filled with temptations. As I move through my day, keep me close. May those I encounter feel your loving presence. Lord, be the work of my hands and my heart. Amen.

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