on October 17, 2005
This passable movie would have gotten three stars, but it lost a star due to the release version being offered.
Before I get to the time issue, let me just say that this was an entertaining movie. I've read other reviews complaining about its inaccuracies, which frankly I don't care much about as it's a myth that happened thousands of years ago. If you want a night of action, adventure, and cheap CGI, pick up this DVD. BUT...
NBC was originally supposed to air this as a two-night four-hour miniseries (roughly 180 minutes minus commercials), but decided instead to butcher the movie and fit it into a three-hour timeslot (roughly 135 minutes minus commercials), which is what you're given in this DVD. Sci-Fi recently aired the four-hour miniseries in its entirety, with all the cut scenes intact. If you haven't seen the miniseries and don't care mcuh for what was cut, then you might as well get this DVD. But if you were like me and actually saw the original cut, wait for LionsGate and Hallmark to release the original 177-minute version.
In Australia and Europe, the film is released in its original 177-minute version, so if you have a multi-region player, I'd suggest importing from there.
Be forewarned, I'm a big fan of 'Hercules, The Legendary Journeys' and 'Xena, Warrior Queen' so anything new on this mythical hero automatically starts off with the expectation of being a - 5 Stars - production.
This Hallmark Entertainment made-for-television production presents a much darker and somber tale of the "Son of Zeus" than what the fans of Kevin Sorbo have grown familiar with. Hated by his Mother Alcmene (Elizabeth Perkins), High Priestess to Hera and twin brother Iphicles they both unsuccessfully plot to kill Hercules (Paul Telfer). They even enlist the aide of his new wife Megara and his three young sons. When their plan fails and results in the deaths of the three children Hercules is blamed and is banished from the Kingdom. In an attempt to redeem himself he agrees to be tested by his betrayers and undertakes a series of all but impossible tasks, or "Labors." That is, almost impossible for anyone but Hercules!
Hallmark has certainly not given us the definitive version of the God/man but it is a good one. It has better than average special effects, a competent storyline and a strong cast of character: Timothy Dalton, Elizabeth Perkins, Sean Astin, the lovely LeeLee Sobeiski and Paul Telfer as Hercules.
*Special message from my seventeen year old daughter for all the young girls out there:
"Check out Paul Telfer, HOTTTTTT......!"
on September 12, 2006
I'm shocked at some of the reviews here; I just finished watching this on Sci-Fi, and rushed online to see if I could order the DVD. This is also the first review I have ever felt motivated to make, after years and years of purchasing at Amazon.
IMO this is one of the best done Hercules movie I've ever seen, primarily because the message. The point of the movie was not the heroics, nor the political intrigue, nor the subplots, nor the eye candy (though, I have to admit Paul Telfer was certainly that! then again, I've always been partial to dark hair and blue eyes... *purr*) or about the special effects. It was about an ordinary man (the movie hints that he is not actually a demi-god) who, through his actions and determination, fought back against the prevailing beliefs of his day, to come to the ultimate self-realization: I, AND NO ONE ELSE, DETERMINE MY DESTINY.
I watched this journey with my 10 year-old son, and in addition to the above, found example after example of courage and morals demonstrated. (Wish it was a little less gory in spots though.) The second biggest lesson my son took away from the movie was how Hercules, though it wasn't completely "his fault", took full, unremitting responsibility for his actions, and made every effort to make full restitution and make the wrong right. In contrast, we have the dumb-butts who took no responsibility at all for their actions. Wow!
Granted, the CGI effects were, in my opinion, poor, but this was a B-grade movie. Also, it is not exactly true to the Hercules mythos, but then again, they had to take artistic license to keep this from being hours and hours long. If you can ignore those two facts and any preconceived notions, and look at it as a STORY, then you will like it I think.
on May 8, 2007
I really enjoyed this but I have the Region 4 release which was released in a widescreen presentation on a 2 disc set with a running time of 170mins. A full 3 hours with no ads. The Region 1 version clocks in at 127 mins on a full screen edit which does the production no favours. I think the American release has shortchanged its customers and can't understand these vast discrepancies unless its a censorship issue?
Minotaur1001, Melbourne Australia
on August 27, 2006
Great movie. Excellent special effects and great actors. Gives a great story to the Hercules legend.
on April 9, 2006
This movie seems to be one you either love or hate, and I must say I truly enjoyed it. As one critic said it was a "B" movie, but it was very good nevertheless.
I really enjoyed the acting- it was very good. I loved the wife Megara, who was very good (even though she was "evil"), and Herc's mother. Herc was pretty good himself, and Leelee (his nymph) was very good, she truly stole the film.
Though there was quite a few inaccuractes, (such as only 6 labors were preformed as opposed the 12), it was still a pretty good movie, albert a T.V. one.
The only serious critic I would have to say is the obvious animation. It was really surprising to find that this movie was made in 2005-the animation looked like something out of one of the older Star Wars Movies.
This was a really good T.V. movie. It's definatly renting material, but I wouldn't buy it(unless it was on sale or less than $10)
on September 23, 2015
The myths of Hercules tend to be rather dark, and they don't form a coherent narrative. So anyone trying to film them has to make some choices. I'll give this Hallmark crew credit; they included a lot more mythology than most renditions.
This version of the story is framed as a struggle between the cults of Zeus and Hera. Well, okay, except that the cult of Zeus really doesn't show up. That the goddess Hera has a serious grudge against Hercules is the core fact in all his myths. Unfortunately for our muscle-bound hero, both his mother (Alcmene) and his wife (Megara) are priestesses of Hera. Awkward.
These Hallmark mini-series are usually appropriate for family viewing, and the many fights Herc has with CGI monsters do not disappoint. Sean Astin is good as Samwise, and LeeLee Sobieski as a golden nymph, well, what's not to like?
This mini series' greatest strength is also its glaring flaw. All those action scenes are driven by the behind-the-throne machinations of the Hera priestesses. Elizabeth Perkins (Alcmene) and Leeanna Walsman (Megara) completely steal the show. Their cold-blooded scheming raises the drama far beyond what you would expect from a whack-the-monster movie.
Parents should be warned that there are some very disturbing scenes. There are two separate instances of human sacrifice, and a nightmare-inducing scene in which a drugged Hercules murders his own children. These bits are so rough that they kind of ruin the whole as family entertainment. That's a shame, because there's a lot to like here.
And while the Hercules myths do portray him murdering his family in a fit of madness, I can find no reference to the cult of Hera committing ritual murder. The character of Antaeus is presented as the son of Hera, instead of Gaia; so the mini-series is (at least) conflating those two goddesses. Where they got the idea for the sacrifice of a harvest king is beyond me; it is not a Greek idea, as far as I can tell.
on March 22, 2012
The oldest known form of storytelling can be found in legends. The stories of Achilles, Hercules, and other Greek gods and heroes have been passed down through the centuries as a monument not only to the fantasies of old but revelations of truth throughout the ages. Hercules is one of the better-known tales, but this is not the light-hearted approach of Disney. This is a torrid, dark tale of triumph against inner and outer evils.
It is the night of the festival to honor the goddess Hero, when a blood sacrifice must be made in order to appease her for yet another season. High Priestess Alcmene (Elizabeth Perkins) offends the gods when she attempts to kill a half-man, half-woman oracle and removes from him his sight. As punishment, she is raped by an unknown god in human form believed to be Zeus. Her husband Amphitryon (Timothy Dalton) does not believe this, and swears to murder the child if one is born of the unholy union. The oracle predicts that two sons will be born, but only one of them will belong to Amphitryon. When the children are born, Alcmene bears them into the swamps where the Harpies dwell and asks that the son of Zeus be killed. The creatures refuse to spill his blood, and all of her attempts to be rid of her son Hercules are thwarted.
A strong and temperamental child, Hercules draws the unwanted attention of the crown when in a fit of madness, he strikes down his tutor (Sean Astin) and appears to have killed him. Forced to flee into the mountains and escape the wrath of punishment, there he dwells until it becomes known that a two-headed monster is ravaging the city of Thebes. Now a grown man, Hercules (Paul Telfer) starts off on a destiny that will lead him to dark places, from the gates of Hades to the favor of a beautiful wood nymph (Leelee Sobieski). Through it all, his mother looks upon him with repulsion and prays Hero will bring an end to his life, as an affront against Zeus, his father and guardian. I must admit that my knowledge of Hercules is a trifle rusty since it has been many years since I studied this particular legend, but the film only covers half of his grand adventures.
There are six trials Hercules must complete in order to atone for his sins, which involve the unintentional murder of his three sons. Most of his adversaries will be known to anyone with an interest in mythology, and it was fascinating to see such creatures as centaurs, harpies, sphinx, and two-headed dragons come to life. There is even a mention of the three-headed dog that guards the gates of the underworld. The special effects range from being extremely poor (the mythical stag of the wood is very badly animated) to quite good (the harpies are fantastic!), and the acting follows a similar pattern. There are moments when it is good enough to forget how bad some of the dialogue is. The most impressive thing about the production is the costuming. I loved the light, airy fabrics used for the wood nymphs and the beautiful lace of the high priestesses.
There were moments when I truly enjoyed it, because I am fascinated with ancient Greece and Rome and their cultures and mythologies, but to be honest the excessively dark tone of the production troubled me. More disconcerting is the belief of the actors involved in the project (through interviews on the disk) is that they seem to feel this is an appropriate fantasy for children. Not any children I happen to know!
It must be a Herculean labour to put together a miniseries dealing with this subject, and like so many of the recent attempts to make major classical figures into larger-than-life Hollywood icons, this one also falls short of the mark. Films such as 'Alexander' and 'Troy' for cinematic release, or the recent made-for-television series such as 'Caesar', 'Spartacus', and 'Helen of Troy' all set out with lofty, almost Olympian ambitions, but fail to deliver divine visions. The same is true here - relative newcomer Paul Telfer (also appearing in the above-mentioned 'Spartacus') certainly has the physique of a Herculean figure, and is a reasonable actor, but the dialogue is a bit stilted - I can't be sure if they wanted 'Greek Epic' or colloquial familiarity, and I'm not sure the writers and director ever quite decided, either.
The crew of actors is not bad here, so the acting is usually reasonably well done for a b-film (and so long as one keeps in mind that one is watching a b-film, expectations are held in check). Sean Astin plays much the same kind of role in this film that he plays in 'Lord of the Rings' - the ever-faithful sidekick, but without Tolkien's great character. Leeanna Walsman plays Megara, Hercules' first wife, reasonably well, without too much melodrama, despite the tragedy of her situation. Kristian Schmid as King Eurystheus is a bit flat, but again that may be the dialogue as much as the acting. Leelee Sobieski also does a good job with the role of Deianeira, the mystical figure who falls in love with Hercules and helps him in subtle ways on his labours.
The one great disappointment of this film is that the the CGI special effects seem to be rather ill-constructed and stand out as obvious insertions; it reminded me of the kinds of obviously phony inserted special effects from similar Greek epic and science fiction films of the 1980s. Surely the technology has been upgraded since then in the studios where this film was finished.
The labours are a bit shortened and modified somewhat from the legends, but for those unfamiliar with them, this is an introduction that will hopefully lead them to want to learn more. This is certainly far closer to the real Hercules legends than the Kevin Sorbo series of years past.
There is violence, but it is fairly muted, and some sexual content, but very mild even by soap-opera standards. Telfer never misses an opportunity to take his shirt off, Sobieski hints at being unclothed in a scene or two, but rarely does it get more erotic than that.
I'd give this three-and-a-half stars, given the option, but I'll grade on a Herculean curve, and give it four here. The DVD contains more footage than the original teleplay, which was cut dramatically. The science fiction channel is replaying a fuller version.
on July 18, 2015
Hurray for Hercules! I bought this one because for Paul Tefler, an underrated actor who should be seen more. Currently featured on soap opera Days of Our Lives where he proves he is more than a body. However, he IS a body worth watching. Predictable, yes, with some beautiful settings.