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Susan Granger's review of 'The Legend of Hercules'

Inauspiciously dumped in January, Renny Harlin's sword-and-sandals epic will be forgotten by the time Brett Rattner's eagerly anticipated "Hercules," starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, opens in July.

One of the best-known figures in Greek mythology, the demi-god Hercules, son of the Olympian ruler Zeus and mortal Queen Alcmene, has been portrayed previously by musclemen like Steve Reeves and Lou Ferrigno. Now it's Kellan Lutz, best known as Bella's shirtless werewolf suitor in the "Twilight" series.

In this adaptation, Zeus' seed, which will become Hercules, is planted in the womb of Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee) as a gift from Zeus' wife Hera to defeat the tyrannical rule of Alcmene's cruel husband, Tirynthean King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins). Loathed by his stepfather and envied by his cowardly stepbrother, Prince Iphicles (Liam Garrigan), Prince Alcides/Hercules (Lutz) is eventually sent to war in Egypt, where he's ambushed and enslaved. That's so that Iphicles can inherit the kingdom and marry Crete's Princess Hebe (Gaia Weiss), who has publicly pledged her love to Alcides/Hercules. All of this is witnessed by the queen's elderly mentor, Chiron (Rade Serbedzija), and Alcides/Hercules' fellow soldier Sotiris (Liam McIntyre).

According to the classic legend, Hercules tackled 12 Great Labors, including fighting the nine-headed Hydra and the Cretan bull, along with capturing the Erymanthian Boar and stealing the Mares of Diomedes. Except for a brief and unimpressive skirmish with the fabled Nemean Lion, these tasks are inexplicably ignored by screenwriters Sean Hood and Daniel Giat, who have substituted, instead, a choppy, insipid, utterly predictable love story.

Director Harlin ("Driven," "Cutthroat Island") uses far too many slow-motion sequences and freeze frames in the countless fight scenes, along with Zack Snyder's "300" device of "speed ramping" (slowing down, then speeding up action). Even the computer-generated imagery is cheap and tacky. Except for McIntyre and Serbedzija, the acting is so ludicrous, it's laughable, particularly Lutz, who totally lacks charisma.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Legend of Hercules" is a tepid, tedious 2, mercifully running only 90 minutes.

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