The first of two action-adventures about the demigod Hercules is now in theaters. The Legend of Hercules stars Twilight's Kellan Lutz as the titular hero, and is helmed by Renny Harlin, the mind behind such wild thrill rides as Die Hard 2, Deep Blue Sea and A Long Kiss Goodnight. Playing out as an origin story for the Greek myth, this movie has Hercules taking up arms against a tyrannical king, who just so happens to be his adoptive father.
Our theatrical review will tell you how well Harlin and Lutz have brought life into The Legend of Hercules. This column focuses solely on the film's use of 3D. Considering seven categories, we evaluate the full scope of a 3D viewing experience as a sort of consumer's guide to movie-going.
Does It Fit?Stuffed with swordfighting and in-your-face action sequences, it's easy to see why The Legend of Hercules inspired a 3D release. The clash of steel could be intensified if those swords are protruding out into the theater. And battle scenes could be given a grander sense of spectacle with enhanced depth. So, yes, this action flick is well-suited to the use of 3D in concept.
Planning & EffortThe first we heard of this competing Hercules production was back in February of 2013, and already helmer Harlin was promising the use of 3D. Since this was well ahead of Lutz being cast in the lead role, we can safely assume Harlin had plenty of time in preproduction to consider how to best implement the device. But looking at the movie, you’d never know it. Within the first few minutes I was already groaning at the cinematography choices that naturally clash with 3D, like out of focus foreground elements, the use of rack focus, and fast pans all of which are disorienting or flat-out dizzying in 3D.
Planning & Effort Score
Before the WindowThis is the element of 3D where it appears that the movie is invading the theater itself, reaching right out to audiences. Occasionally Harlin reaches his characters weapons out into this space, which can boost the scene's excitement a bit. But most often he plays with this device when it comes to things floating in the air. And for some inexplicable reason, this movie has lots of things floating in the air. Some scenes confetti reins down and seems to flutter out before the window. Others are drenched in some unexplained floating thing that might be snow, ash, or the worst pollen season mankind has ever known.
Seriously, where J.J. Abrams is obsessed with lens flares, Harlin is fixated on throwing stuff in the air of any shot he can. While it offers lots of opportunities for this area of 3D, it also spurs a natural instinct to blink relentlessly to keep whatever this stuff was out of my eyes.
Before the Window Score
Beyond the WindowAs opposed to Before the Window, Beyond the Window is that aspect of 3D that seems to stretch back into the screen. Here is where The Legend of Hercules's 3D is best manipulated. In various battle scenes, the arenas have a crisp sense of depth that adds weight to the action whether singular gladiators or whole armies are hurling themselves at their enemies. Highfive, Harlin!
Beyond the Window Score
BrightnessOne of the pitfalls of 3D is that 3D glasses inherently make the movie you're watching just a bit dimmer/grayer. So it's up to filmmakers to consider this, adjusting brightness accordingly. It seems Harlin kept this in mind as no scene in The Legend of Hercules is so dark its action gets lost. However, there are so many scenes painted in the inky tones of night that I repeatedly caught myself squinting to be sure I could follow the action.
The Glasses Off TestThis is an easy test to essentially see how much 3D bang you're getting for you buck. Basically, take off your glasses and note how blurry the movie is without them. The more blur you see essentially means the more 3D is in use. Put your glasses back on, and everything should pop a bit to accent the difference. To its credit, The Legend of Hercules makes use of the 3D in every scene I toyed with this test in. It's just a shame it didn't make better use of it.
Glasses Off Score
Audience HealthBad 3D isn't only frustrating; it can make you physically ill. In The Legend of Hercules there was risk of this as so much of the cinematography broke my focal point, forcing my eyes again and again to readjust quickly. By the end of the film, I had a dull headache that I'm laying on eye strain.
Audience Health Score