Unspooled in the January dumping ground and not screened for critics, Renny Harlin's "The Legend of Hercules" has preemptively conceded defeat in its duel with Brett Ratner's "Hercules," the other Hollywood project based on the same Greek hero due this year.
One of the best-known figures in Greek mythology, Hercules has yet to receive serious cinematic regard. Besides serving as a bit player in films such as "Immortals" and "Jason and the Argonauts," Hercules has been the subject of one wisecracking animated musical from Disney and numerous live-action features straight out of the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" canon.
No matter how absurd, though, the 1958 Steve Reeves starrer, the 1983 Lou Ferrigno vehicle and the 1997 cartoon — all titled "Hercules" — at least nodded at classical mythology. Harlin's boasts a Hercules in name chiefly and banks on moviegoers' ignorance.
Sean Hood and Daniel Giat's script-by-number screenplay hits every obligatory plot point of the genre imaginable: illegitimate child, sibling rivalry, love triangle, slave trade, mud wrestling, public lashing and epic battles. In other words, it's "47 Ronin" transported from feudal Japan to ancient Greece.
If you admire Kellan Lutz's chiseled body, "The Legend of Hercules" does offer plenty of that in 3-D glory.
'The Legend of Hercules'
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense combat action and violence and for some sensuality
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Playing: In general release