Hercules - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Hercules Reviews

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½ November 30, 2015
mashup of multiple stories related to Golden Fleece
½ November 19, 2015
Steve Reeves may be Hercules, but he could use a better plot for a dull movie. It's not as entertaining as the other Hercules movies, though it does have some better qualities.
Super Reviewer
May 14, 2014
I hope those anabolizers kill Hercules to never star in a film again.
April 20, 2014
A triumph of exploitation cinema and a fondly-remembered genre groundbreaker--Steve Rocks!!
October 21, 2013
The film is somewhat lacking in cohesion, but the moral legend it conveys is, for good reason, a memorable one.
½ August 23, 2011
Light-years ahead of the other Hercules movie as this one actually had some action and a Hercules story which I'm familiar with. It's still perfect fodder for MST3K.
June 7, 2011
Not that bad. Its cheesy, sappy, old, funny, and outdated. Exactly what you expect. The REAL treat is seeing Steve Reeves run around and beat people up. Sheesh!
½ February 27, 2011
Long before the Italian cult genres of spaghetti westerns, poliziotteschi, giallo and macaroni combat was the peplum, also known by the more derogatory term "sword and sandal". The peplum genre was jumpstarted by the American historic epics like "Spartacus" and mythical adventure films like "Jason and the Argonauts". The first release of the peplum genre is was the popular "Hercules", a film that jumpstarted the genre inspiring hundreds of films similar in mold..

Despite being popular in back in the day, peplum films don't seem to be as popular with the Italian cult film crowd today when compared to other subgenre's like spaghetti westerns and gialli. Why is that? Is it due to the lack of gritty violence and other over-the-top tendencies or even for the homosexual undertones of seeing well built, greased up body builders? Well for my money it's because there truly isn't a great film in the genre. "Hercules" is considered the crème-de-le crème that the genre had to offer. It was the "Good the Bad and the Ugly" and "Deep Red" of the peplum genre. And to be honest it isn't that good.

Sure "Hercules" is entertaining enough as a B-fantasy film but it's far from great. Steve Reeves looks part of Hercules with his "Mr. Universe" physique but his acting, along with the rest of the cast is below par. The acting of course isn't the only problem with this "epic."

The narrative of the film is sloppy and it's hard to follow the disjointed plot as Hercules falls for a young princess and basically hired by her father to find the golden fleece that Jason and his Argonauts stole and along the way fights numerous foes and finds out the killers of the kings brother.

The plot of this film depends on the audience knowing the story of Jason and the Argonauts. If I never saw the popular American film, which actually came out after this, I would not know what the fuck was going on here as Hercules bounces around from situation to situation looking for the damn thing. Even though this came out four years before "Jason and the Argonauts" I recommend viewing that film before delving into "Hercules."

The special effects are also extremely laughable as Hercules and his soldiers fight bulls, lions an even a fucking dinosaur. I can't judge a film too harshly for below par special effects but boy oh boy does this wish for the day of Ray Harryhausen.

I enjoyed "Hercules" enough for what it was but let's be honest, it's a brainless fantasy film with a muscle bound hero sleepwalking through a poor flowing script making it just an "epic" B movie. This is why I believe the genre has never truly been embraced as no director was able to craft a great film out of the genre, despite future talented directors like Sergio Leone getting their start there. At the time though "Hercules" was an enormous success and much like popular names in the spaghetti western genre like Django and Sartana, Hercules would be followed by what seems like an infinite number of unofficial sequels starring other muscle bound men cashing in on the Herc name. Out of all those cash-in's, only one official sequel would be made with Steve Reeves returning to the role in "Hercules Unchained." The Italians would later reinvent the story of Hercules in the laugh educing 1983 remake starring Lou Ferrigno.
Super Reviewer
June 18, 2010
For a B-movie, this is all you could want in a Hercules story. While it‚??s more a story about Jason and the Argonauts, this certainly captures the essence of the character and all of his might. Steve Reeves is depicted as one of the most powerful human beings to ever walk the earth and it‚??s certainly believable by the way he is shot in this movie (appearing 7 ft tall). Boars, Lions and beasts are no match for the metahuman; he just beats them with his bare hands or wooden club. For it‚??s time, this is a really fun and memorable experience.
May 27, 2010
Everybody who enjoys this larger-than-life, but solemn mythological adventure epic should know that ‚??Attila‚?? director Pietro Francisci‚??s ‚??Hercules‚?? spawned what came to be derogatorily referred to as the sword and sandal genre. These films constituted a sub-genre of the Hollywood historical movie and the plots occurred either during classical antiquity in Greece and Rome or Biblical times in other Mediterranean locales. Basically, these European produced films featured a brawny, footloose warrior as the protagonist who performs incredible feats of strength that enabled him to destroy supernatural monsters, topple evil tyrants and free enslaved peoples. Sometimes, the hero was a gladiator like the Kirk Douglas hero in ‚??Spartacus.‚?? Often, the hero‚??s name varied when these films arrived in America. The muscular champion was called Hercules, Samson, Goliath or he was a son of Hercules with an entirely different name. In Italy, however, the strongman hero was always known as Maciste.

Although ‚??Hercules‚?? was the first of some 300 sword and sandal sagas to follow until the Spaghetti western eclipsed the genre around 1964, the Italians had been producing sword and sandal movies long before ‚??Hercules.‚?? One of the first major silent films, director Giovanni Pastrone‚??s ‚??Cabiria‚?? appeared in 1914 and concerned the abduction of the eponymous little girl that pirates kidnapped during an eruption of Mount Etna during the third century B.C. A Roman spy and his mesomorphic muscle-bound slave Maciste rescued Cabiria. Aside from revitalizing a moribund genre, Francisci‚??s ‚??Hercules‚?? is notable not only for its star, bodybuilder Steve Reeves of ‚??Mr. Universe‚?? fame, but also for lenser Mario Bava whose widescreen pictorial compositions as well as his atmospheric lightning. Reeves went on to star in several more pepla, and Bava later helmed ‚??Hercules in the Haunted World.‚?? ‚??Hercules Unchained‚?? with Reeves and co-star Sylva Koscina followed ‚??Hercules.‚??

Aesthetically, ‚??Hercules‚?? qualifies as an uneven effort. Francisci and his scenarists derived their screenplay from Apollonius of Rhodes‚?? Greek epic poem "Argonautica" that dealt with Jason and his quest for the Golden Fleece. In this film, Hercules literally usurps Jason as the hero when in reality the son of Jupiter played a peripheral role in the exploit. British director Don Chaffey helmed the best cinematic version of the Golden Fleece myth in 1963 with his exciting ‚??Jason and the Argonauts‚?? that boasted the superb stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen. One of the problems with ‚??Hercules‚?? is that Jason recovers the fleece rather too easily from a giant reptile that sleeps near the tree where the fleece hangs. Reeves has a few uncomfortable moments when he goes on the rampage, literally blowing his cool, and sounds a mite unbelievable. Mind you, this was the bodybuilder‚??s first starring role so he can be forgiven. Francisci plays everything straight down the line so that nothing appears deliberately campy. Of course, some of the hand-to-hand combat scenes where Hercules tangles with livestock such as a lion and a bison looks staged. Typically, the animal trainer would substitute for the star or the director would orchestrate the fights so that fake animal heads and paws could be used. Consequently, while it is an entertaining bit of hokum, ‚??Hercules‚?? isn‚??t as much fun as later strong man sagas.

"Hercules" became a blockbuster during its North American release and the success of the film in the United States can be attributed to Joseph E Levine. According to A.T. McKenna in his thesis ‚??Joseph E. Levine: Showmanship, Reputation and IndustrialPractice 1945 - 1977,‚?? ‚??Hercules‚?? made Levine an ‚??industry big shot.‚?? After every Hollywood studio passed on Francisci's film, Levine bought the film for a modest $120,000, dubbed in English dialogue, and changed the title from "The Labors of Hercules" to simply "Hercules." Levine's folly wound up raking in a fortune from its U.S. release and sequels that followed. Levine pioneered 'saturation' booking and opened "Hercules" in 600 theaters. According to the Turner Classic Movies website, this method of opening a movie was "unheard of" in the 1950s. Levine relied on radio and television advertising to arouse the public's curiosity and he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. ‚??I had no misgivings about Hercules,‚?? Levine explained to the media. ‚??It had something for everybody. It had a dragon for kids, musclemen for growing boys, a shipwreck scene for waiters and clerks. Who doesn‚??t dream of getting stuck on an island with some broads? And the picture had Steve Reeves. He appealed to women.‚?? Gordon Scott, Gordon Mitchell, Ed Fury, Dan Vadis, Mark Forest, Reg Park and other American bodybuilders went to Europe to star in these films. Inevitably, continental bodybuilders took umbrage because of the reliance by their own producers and directors on Americans when just as many suitable muscle-bound specimens resided in Italy, the foremost being Alan Steel.

‚??Hercules‚?? unfolds with a venerable scene straight out of an old western. A beautiful woman, Princess Iole (Sylva Koscina of "Michael Strogoff"), shatters the afternoon calm when we loses control of a pair of horses hauling her chariot. She scatters a herd of goats. Francisci cuts to a close-up of tree roots being torn out of the ground and shows Hercules (Steve Reeves of ‚??Jailbait‚??) hurl the tree it into the path of the runaway horses. ‚??I thank the gods for providing me such a strong man when I needed him,‚?? Iole says. Hercules carries her from the chariot and sets her on a rock. ‚??I‚??ll admit that the sight of those runaway horses had me worried about you.‚?? Hercules suspects Iole is royalty from the standard on her chariot. As it turns out, Iola is the daughter of King Pelias of Iolcus (Ivo Garrani of "Roland the Mighty"), and our hero is in route to train Pelias‚?? son Prince Iphitus (Mimmo Palmara of ‚??Attila‚??) in the art of warfare. Iole furnishes Hercules with a brief history of her father‚??s suspicious rise to power, the death of his brother the king, and the thief of the Golden Fleece. Afterward, Hercules accompanies Iola back to the palace. An impulsive, arrogant young man, Iphitus hates Hercules. When a lion terrorizes the land, Hercules slays the beast. Iphitus interferes with Hercules, and the lion kills Iphitus before Hercules can kill it. A grief-stricken Pelias tells Hercules that the only way he can redeem himself is to kill the Cretan bull. Later, Pelias gives Hercules three months to bring back the Golden Fleece to prove that Jason is the rightful heir to the throne. A sea voyage follows and Jason reclaims the Golden Fleece after an encounter with a dragon.
½ December 15, 2009
Good production value and direction, Steeve Reeves (the best incarnation of Hercule) and a decent story mixing up quite well Jason and the Argonauts and a few others Greek Myth. Good work.
October 28, 2009
The film that launched a genre, a classic!
Super Reviewer
½ May 30, 2009
hugh jackman in the latest x-men is way more buff than poor old steve reeves was back in the innocent yet halycon days of 1959, but ol' stevie did have a good story and the simmering sylvia koscina as romantic heat. try to beat that! better than you think it might be, and a foreign film no less! (i'm turning in my d.a.r. membership tomorrow!)
½ January 28, 2009
Pretty good considering the time it was made...1959. I liked it but it was a bit tame for my tastes.
½ January 23, 2009
i'm not a big fan of italian 'peplum movies'. Some of those are good and funny but many are just crap. This one is the first of that genre, it's enjoyable and it has good actors (and a nice Dalmatian babe: S.Koscina...). Steeve Reeves is much better than Schwarzenegger and Ferrigno, HUH!
January 18, 2009
fun movie. would like to see more like it.
September 17, 2008
People thought Hercules was tough, but that was only a myth.
March 21, 2008
I did not really like this movie.
February 21, 2008
Steve Reeves has the most convincing voice in known space.
½ January 22, 2008
Nothing really stands out about it but it wasn't half bad.. ok well i guess its exactly half bad hence my rating
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