June 27, 2013

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: "Hercules in the Underworld"

In his fourth TV movie adventure, Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) investigates a crack in the earth that seems to lead directly to the Underworld. When his wife Deianeira is threatened, Hercules must bargain with the God Hades to save her life.

I've been rather tardy in reviewing this TV movie, because it's the worst kind of thing a reviewer can write about: something average. It's not as good as "Hercules and the Circle of Fire", and is certainly much better than "Hercules and the Amazon Women", but on its own merits it just kind of hangs there in an awkward fashion - too poor to recommend but too good to condemn. It's just... it is what it is.

One element that I did like was how the movie incorporated elements from the mythological "Labours of Hercules": the centaur Nessus, the encounter with Hades and the capture of Cerberus are all drawn directly from traditional stories, and this gives "Hercules in the Underworld" a nice feel that's maybe a little closer to the Hercules viewers were familiar with - as opposed to the version slowly being established in The Legendary Journeys.

Kevin Sorbo continues to be an amiable lead. It's partly due to the scripts, but he just feels so utterly casual in the role. I mean this in a positive sense: I hate depictions of Superman where he's envisaged as this massive, tense, musclebound hulk, when of course it's his powers that enable him to fly and be incredibly strong. The same goes here: Sorbo is athletic and muscular, but not exceptionally so. He rarely looks tense, because why would he? He's damn-near invulnerable.

A shout-out to Cliff Curtis as Nessus the centaur: Curtis will go on to co-star in Bringing Out the Dead, The Insider, Whale Rider, Collateral Damage, Sunshine and Live Free or Die Hard. Also notable is Argentinian wrestler/basketballer Jorge Gonzalez as Eryx the Boxer: that man is huge (eight feet tall, if you're counting).

If you're doing a complete rewatch of Hercules like I am, this episode isn't too painful and acts as a mild diversion. If you're looking for a specific recommendation, however, I can't help you. It's good enough, however, giving us three watchable-or-better movies out of four - a running score of 75%.

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