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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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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988.</p> American Catholic Blog God is great. God is good. And God, in his fatherly love, has a plan for our lives that will work out for our benefit and salvation. All we have to do is trust and obey.

Life's Great Questions

 
CATHOLIC GREETINGS
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Sts. Peter and Paul
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Help the bride and groom see their love as a mirror of God’s love.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help
God gave Mary to us as a help in our quest for holiness.




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