Also known as “Hercules and the Conquest of Atlantis,” and “Hercules Conquers Atlantis,” Vittorio Cottafavi’s is not a total disaster of a Hercules installment. Surely, it’s a weird, bizarre, and occasionally dull picture, but if the sword and sandal films (or “Peplum”) are your bag, this might whet you’re appetite. With its American title, The Film Detective releases Reg Parks’ Hercules debut from Italy in its full form, restored from the original 35mm negative and in crystal 4K clarity.
If you can forgive the fact that Director Brett Ratner completely knocks off the Kevin Sorbo “Hercules” series by presenting a lighter more satirical tone behind the myth of Hercules, his treatment of the character isn’t a complete loss of time. In actuality, “Hercules” is a solid action comedy that takes the wind out of the Greek Myths, in favor of a more grounded tale of the warrior Hercules, whose entire legacy is built around fantastic tales and illusion. Much like Sorbo’s Hercules, Dwayne Johnson plays the character with a tongue in cheek and self awareness all the while thrust in to fantastic situations that require he actually step up to play the hero.
Watching “Hercules,” feels almost like what Disney would have done to Superman if DC ever let them turn the character in to an animated feature film. It has all the hallmarks of the Superman mythos. Not to mention it embraces the classic hero’s journey, and is one of the few Disney features based around mythology rather than an age old story. Disney could very well have approached the tale of a young God in training with an animation style that could have rendered the film bland and forgettable. Instead, “Hercules” is one of their more unique and outside the box animated adaptations.
I’d be willing to bet that even the most hardcore Arnold Schwarzenneger (billed as Arnold Strong) fan will tap out after thirty minutes of “Hercules in New York.” It’s a brutally awful attempt to cash in on the Hercules logo, while also failing to turn Schwarzenneger in to a star. It also doesn’t help that whether it’s Arnold with an English dub, or Arnold in his original voice, “Hercules in New York” is impossible to sit through. It’s almost kind of fun to see Arnold try to enunciate English, though, as he plays Hercules, a young demi-God who lives in paradise with women at his feet, and is still bored.