Friday, July 25, 2014


I am not a fan of the Harry Potter movies.  After all the trouble Voldemort has caused you would think that someone in the magical world would finally have had enough and jab a magic wand in the old snake's forehead.

I am bored and annoyed with the Hunger Games films.  President Snow should have been overthrown - or better yet thrown over a cliff - in the first ninety minutes of the first film.  The narrative is too cynical for an over the top premise.  If you begin with a dystopian future in which bloodsports are televised, then go ahead an allow for a larger than life hero who can dismantle the unjust system with flair.  Remember "The Running Man?" Arnold Schwarzenegger dismantled Richard Dawson's murderous game show in 101 minutes.

Other than a few super-hero films, there has not been enough of the genuine action hero films that make you cheer when the hero wins a battle or takes out a villain in one shot.  (Remember when Indiana Jones shot the cutlass-wielding swordsman?) Hercules is the type of movie that has been missing from the cinemas for a few years now.  This is why I liked it . . .

1. The hero is flawed, but not so flawed that he's broken.  Hercules has had some setbacks and he is bothered by an event in his past, but he remains a heroic figure.  However, Herc's character is not overwhelmed by his psychological baggage.  Also, Hercules and his companions are not frustratingly weak and powerless.  I am bored of cinematic heroes that lack any sort of strength, confidence, skill, or power.  I do not want to sit through a series of ten films until they become the hero of prophecy.  Let's just fast forward!  Hercules and his team have real power and the challenge is to watch them apply that power to the noble causes.

2. The hero is virtuous.  Hercules is an admirable figure.  Even though he is a mercenary when we first meet him, we also sense that he stands for something more.  When the opportunity for him to do the right thing comes along, we know he is going to do it because he cannot be bought and he is genuine.

3. The heroes win.  I go to the movies for a good story told well.  I do not need to get frustrated by having the main characters die a meaningless death or getting depressed when the unjust prevail.  (If I want that I can watch HBO Original Series!).  I want the heroes to win and I want them to win big.  Hercules delivers and so do his companions.  He has a noble army of followers who follow him because they are family.  They are loyal and dedicated because Hercules inspires the best in them. 

4. The villains get what is coming to them.  Yeah that's right - they actually lose!  Sometimes there's no need for a sympathetic villain.  Sometimes there is no point to complexity.  If I want to struggle to figure out who is a hero and who is a villain I could watch Game of Thrones.  We make films like Hercules to remind us that wicked tyrants who hurt others can be beaten.  In the (paraphrased) word of G.K. Chesterton, "We need a St. George to remind us that dragons can be beaten."

5. The humor is entertaining.  Thankfully, the humor is mostly above the belt and not sickening.  Cheap humor erodes I.Q.  and distracts from a good story.  Hercules has the right blend of action and humor.  The humor lifts the story and entertains.  The ancient meaning of comedy was a tale with a happy ending.  Comedy was hopeful.  This movie's comedy and humor aptly contributed to the hope that the right would prevail.

Why should you go see Hercules?  Because sometimes the heroes do win - and it only takes them two hours!