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Hercules (1983)



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"I, the enchantress, have been enchanted."

The beginning, it is said, is a very good place to start. But this Lou Ferrigno version of Hercules goes a little too far. It starts with the birth of the universe. The Earth is created, and then, abruptly, we are taken to a scene of three of the gods, debating whether or not Man should be made stronger. Apparently the gods sit around in outer space listening to organ music and electronic sound effects all day.

Hercules is born and made stronger than any other human being. But Hera, queen of the goddesses, is against him. If you are familiar with the myth of Hercules, you'll know why, but you won't just from watching this movie. This is the most confusing, meandering account of Hercules I can imagine.

Hera doesn't like him, and neither do a couple of other non-gods that sit around in outer space all day. There's some debate about helping the gods or overthrowing the gods or something -- it doesn't matter what the point is, because the only consequence of these discussions we care about is that cheesy robots get sent after Hercules, and Hercules beats them up. Huh? Robots? I guess they were easier to animate than live creatures, but it's a botched job anyway. This is what happens when you don't have Ray Harryhausen to do your visual effects.

In the early stages of the movie, it seemed like Hercules got thrown irrelevant "tests" just as an excuse to show off Hercules' strength. My favorite test -- I wasn't quite sure how this would prove Hercules' loyalty, but I liked it -- required Hercules to clean stables. "Those stables haven't been cleaned in years," warns one, claiming the task to be impossible. What kind of stable hasn't been cleaned in years? Apparently one that doesn't house any horses -- there are certainly none in sight. At any rate, Hercules cleans the stables by rerouting a river through them. He chucks a couple of rocks into a river at the bottom of a thousand foot chasm, and this is enough to make the river travel up the entirety of the chasm and through the stables. Way to go, Hercules!

We're all familiar with the traditional comrade death scene. The teary eyed hero holds the dying cohort, who sputters some last words before relaxing into eternal stillness. Hercules has perhaps the most unconvincing death scene ever. A woman dies like that, but she doesn't act like she's mortally wounded. She speaks her dying words with unforced ease, and one half expects her to bound to her feet and keep going. But then, abruptly, she keels back and dies. Naturally her body disappears with a psychedelic glow and a series of electronic beeps.

Soon after, Hercules is captured by a sorceress and is expected to consume a mind-numbing drug voluntarily. But she drinks it first (bright girl), and that gives Hercules a chance to escape.

When all is said and done, and Hercules is reunited with his love, Cassiopea, an exchange of dialogue takes place that represents well the calibre of the dialogue overall. Hercules strides up to Cassiopea and asks the laughably strange question, "Are you really Cassiopea?" I'm not sure why Hercules wouldn't think so, but here's her even stranger answer: "I'm all of them and none of them." Huh? Wasn't "yes" good enough for her?

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