Review: Hercules and the Amazon Women

herculesamazon_cov.jpgYear: 1994
Director: Bill L. Norton
Starring: Kevin Sorbo, Roma Downey, Michael Hurst, Anthony Quinn
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 52

Plot
Hercules travels to save a village from beasts, only to get embroiled in a battle against Amazons.

Quick Review
Hercules and the Amazon Women has problems for sure: the acting, the special effects, the story, and the script all stumble along at times. If you hold this movie to the same standards as a major theatrical release, you will be disappointed. In many ways, though, the goofiness, hyperbole, and cheesiness of this film lend it a charming quality. With moderate expectations, Hercules and the Amazon Women is an entertaining romp into Greek mythology and a great kick-off to the series.

Full Review
I rarely watch TV. In the course of the 1990’s, I saw at most three episodes of Hercules, the Legendary Journeys. Each time, however, it intrigued me enough to make me think that it would be fun to watch the series from start to finish. With that in mind, when DeepDiscount.com ran a “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” sale a few weeks ago, I grabbed all six seasons of the show. The first season set comes with five full-length movies that were aired in 1994, and were the precursor to the regular show that began in 1995.

The first of these movies is Hercules and the Amazon Women. To fairly evaluate this film, it’s important to keep it in perspective. This is a film made for TV; the budget, special effects, and story reflect this. With that in mind, Hercules and the Amazon Women is a light-hearted, entertaining romp into ancient Greek mythology.

hercules_b.jpgThe movie’s success stems to a large degree from Kevin Sorbo, who manages to put a casual, down-to-earth spin on the mythic Hercules. He’s a good guy, fighting for the common man, and is instantly likeable in his role. He gets the power, morality, and tone of Hercules just right. He gets quite a bit of help from the cast as well. Michael Hurst does a fine job as his best friend, Iolaus. Roma Downey, as Hippolyta, the leader of the Amazons, carries her role well enough. Overall, the acting is casual, transparent, and overdone. Normally, these would all be strong negatives, but somehow in Hercules they help enhance the flavor of the film.

While there is plenty of action in the film, the story is in essence a parable on love and male/female relationships. Hercules, instead of battling the Amazons, spends much of his energy in getting their leader, Hippolyta, to see the errors of her ways, and getting the men in a nearby town to see the errors of their ways. At times, Hercules struggles with his own values. The characters’ moral struggles are the heart of the film. At times it’s dopey, simplistic, and downright clunky. Often, the corny plot makes fun of itself to the point that a scene becomes so bad that it becomes comical. The magic with Hercules and the Amazon Women is that these intentional exaggerations enhance rather that detract from the quality of the film. In the end, the movie’s message is simple enough for a child to understand, yet complex enough to have value with adults. Perfect for TV.

To be honest, there are quite a few times where the story is unconvincing. The love interest between Hercules and Hippolyta felt overly contrived and completely artificial. In other places, the script and acting weaken the impact and believability of hercules_a.jpgscenes. The moral turmoil of the Hercules, Hippolyta, and the Amazons in particular seemed weakly portrayed. On the whole, however, the story works well enough and the script is entertaining enough to overlook these glaring weaknesses.

The action in the film is surprisingly well done. Some of the fighting is well beyond what one would expect from a TV movie. In particular, Hercules and Iolaus’ fight against the Amazons in the woods stands out. The stunts, although generic, are generally well shot and convincing. We even get a spectacular waterfall jump! Special effects are fake and generally awful, but considering this is a 13-year-old television film, we’re not expecting much.

Another reason why this movie works is the generally close attention paid to the premise. This is no simple act when you’ve got powerful ancient gods involved in the story, and at times things get a bit questionable. Nevertheless, Hercules and the Amazon Women sufficiently stays within itself. There are some obvious questions, such as why Hera, who so badly wants Hercules killed, doesn’t actually kill him herself, but I’m guessing these things get explained later in the series. Zeus’ involvement at the end of the film is another case where the film comes close to breaking down.

hercules_c.jpgIn terms of babes and hunks, Hercules and the Amazon Women is a mixed bag. Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst push up the hunk rating, but their support is generally bland. On the whole I was disappointed with the Amazons. Roma Downey was beautiful and elegant, yet seems a bit miscast as the Amazon leader; I think a wilder, more elemental actress would have worked better. A young Lucy Lawless, as one of the Amazon warriors, surprised me with her striking beauty. The rest of the Amazons were mostly average.

In conclusion, Hercules and the Amazon Women has problems for sure: the acting, the special effects, the story, and the script all stumble along at times. If you hold this movie to the same standards as a major theatrical release, you will be disappointed. In many ways, though, the goofiness, hyperbole, and cheesiness of this film lend it a charming quality. With moderate expectations, Hercules and the Amazon Women is an entertaining romp into Greek mythology and a great kick-off to the series.

Score
Pace: 65
Plot: 57
Action: 53
Consistent Premise: 55
Script/Quotes: 53
Characters: 66
Acting: 48
Villain: 55
Body Count: 15
Time to First Dead Body: Fast
Babes: 48
Hunks: 78
Explosions: 15
Special Effects: 30
Stunts: 58
Ending: 53

Overall: 52 (Light entertainment)

[tags]Hercules and the Amazon Women, Hercules, Amazon, Lucy Lawless, Kevin Sorbo, Bill L. Norton, Roma Downey, Michael Hurst, Anthony Quinn[/tags]

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