Banished by his stepfather, the king, Hercules slowly becomes aware of his true origins as the son of Zeus. As he learns to harness his demigod powers, Hercules gathers an army to fight his way back to his kingdom in this action-filled epic.
I have a confession to make. I love cheesy movies. The bigger the train wreck, the more fascinating it is to me to pick apart and dissect. Throw in a schlocky filmmaker like Renny Harland and it’s a sure bet that’s what I am getting... right? Well, not with The Legend of Hercules, a movie so inept, and riddled with unoriginal, half-baked ideas, one doesn’t even know where to begin.
Take the plot of Gladiator, change Maximus' name to Hercules (Kellan Lutz), add a visual style that would make 300 seem restrained, and you have this unoriginal dribble. This film truly gives the phrase "rote storytelling" a new name. But what bothers me the most about The Legend of Hercules is the fact that they had absolutely no intention of respecting the source material and telling a story that serviced the beloved title character. Though they kept calling our lead Hercules, there was no connection to the imposing figure we have come to know. Instead, the film lamely tries telling a rote story we’ve seen a dozen times before while masking it behind a recognizable character who hasn’t been on the big screen for some time.
For a more in-depth review of The Legend of Hercules, check out the full review of the 2014 Blu-ray release HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD
Lionsgate trots The Legend of Hercules onto Ultra HD with standard slip cover. Inside its hardcover keepcase lies a BD-60 Ultra HD Blu-ray, along with a BD-50 Blu-ray that features the standard and 3D version of the film, as well as a Digital HD Ultraviolet digital download code. Once started, the Ultra HD disc brings us straight to the main menu featuring clips from the film rather than a still image, allowing us to navigate from there.
The Legend of Hercules hacks and slashes its way onto Ultra HD with a 2160p HEVC/.H265 encoded transfer that is truly better than the film deserves. A CG heavy affair digitally filmed with a Red Epic camera and mastered in a 2K source definitely gives this release a legitimate reason for the double dip onto 4K. As artificial as this color palette is, there is a certain beauty in the richness of the colors which is amplified in 4K thanks to the HDR here. Shadow definition also gets an impressive uptick, becoming deeper and more detailed. Framed at a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, clarity and detail get a moderate uptick, giving fight scenes with debris a noticeable upgrade.
As anyone who has seen this film knows, there is a lot of CG, with the entire movie being shot on greenscreen. What I can say for better or worse, like most 4K transfers, all of the CG is amplified. Action scenes come across well if you can see past the artificial quality to them. But almost every skyline or background looks absolutely terrible, and cartoonishly artificial. There is a scene on a boat at sea that had me busting out laughing at the horrible greenscreen on display. But that is more a problem with the production and not so much with the actual quality of the transfer. Overall The Legend of Hercules fares quite well on Ultra HD giving more of an upgrade than most, and anyone who can tolerate the film itself will appreciate the visuals on display here
Lionsgate wages war on Ultra HD with The Legend of Hercules, giving us a surprisingly well-done Dolby Atmos track (that decodes into Dolby TrueHD 7.1) that would make us think that it was originally mixed in this format, though it was not. Right from the opening scene with King Amphitryon winning his battle, the field of sound opens up, giving us a wider, more immersive sound field. The LFE track roars with bass as the score hits, giving the track some much-needed heft and weight. Surrounds come alive in every scene, giving us a more immersive experience. Fronts do their job as well, assisting the subwoofer and allowing the larger than life quality the film is obviously going for.
Height speakers are impressive also, mostly assisting the score with only a handful of action being heard in them. Now, with the amount of action on screen, it might be a little disappointing that it doesn’t bleed its way over to our height speakers more than it does, but the score here has been properly mastered for Dolby Atmos, making it clearly present in the height speakers throughout the film. This is again an instance of The Legend of Hercules being at least a technically proficient film, with a noticeable upgrade on Ultra HD.
The Supplemental Material here is the same as on the 2014 release. To check it out click HERE.
I find it hard to think of a film that so shamelessly imitates other movies quite like The Legend of Hercules -- where the filmmakers ape the plot of films like Gladiator or Spartacus, with Hercules dropped in as the main character alongside 300-esque special effects, and a whole slew of wooden performances. The end result is a limp, pale imitation of the films it tries to imitate rather than a coherent concept. With that being said, the presentation on this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is actually a welcome improvement in almost every regard. If you can stomach the film itself, this release would be a worthy addition to any collection.