So, our "hero" arrives in Thebes, where we are immediately assaulted by a cavalcade of horrible and nonsensical pop-culture references. From referring to Thebes as "the Big Olive" to actual primitive street lights. This reaches the absolute nadir when some guy approaches them and offers them sundials. Wrist-mounted
Did the writers think even a little bit about that joke? Just a tiny bit? Do they have any understanding of how sundials work? Well, let me clue you in: they work because they are ANCHORED TO THE GROUND!
They are fixed relative to the Earth, and thus the shadow moves only when the sun moves. A wrist-mounted sundial
is one of the few objects less useful than a remote controlled umbrella*
But screw logic; we have to do our shitty pop-culture gag somehow.
Cut to a group of random people bitching about various problems like floods, crime, etc. Herc and co walk up and offers his services as a hero. After a good chuckle, they ask about what he's done before. Which is nothing, so they're not particularly impressed. After some Komedy! where Achilles is shat upon further, they say that they need a professional hero
Herc wonders how he can prove himself if nobody gives him a chance. Here's an idea, Herc: do something!
Are they stopping you from running around and fighting crime? No. Are they stopping you from handling floods or battling monsters? No. Then what does it matter what some random assholes on the street say? Look around for problems and solve them. Batman didn't have to ask random people when he started a life of vigilantism. Nor did Superman or Spiderman. Because they're, you know, actual heroes
Because Herc is too pathetic to actually find something to do in this supposed city in peril, Meg shows up looking for help. She says that two children were caught in a rockslide, which Herc says is wonderful. Megara channels my feelings perfectly with her sarcastic reply. But Herc just grabs her, puts her on Pegasus, and the two fly off to the rescue. Phil is left behind for reasons of Komedy!
After they arrive, they hear the children calling for help under rocks. Herc rushes over and hefts the boulder out of the way, freeing them. A crowed that spontaneously gathered applauds. Lightly. The two kids leave after some banter, and they head up the mountain to see Hades. Really movie, we're not morons. Even a five-year-old knows that this is a trap. Though to be fair, there's actually a bit of character here, as Meg whispers that Herc should leave, thus showing that she's not that much into the whole "kill him off" plan.
The trap is sprung when a thing comes out of the cave that the boulder in question was blocking. It is... made of obvious CG
. At first I wasn't really sure why, since it appears to be just your basic scaly beast with a long net and lots of teeth. But there's actually a reason.
We get a bit of the expected action scene stuff to establish the monster's threat level. Then he eats Herc. The end.
Sadly no (though as this is likely the best thing that happens in the film, it would be sad to stop in the middle of it). The shot of Herc being dead doesn't last long enough to buy it, but it does last a bit. But when the creature tries to go for the nearby crowd (what the hell were they still doing there, anyway?), Herc cuts off the monster's head from inside of its long neck. Why don't monsters in movies ever chew food? Especially when they have large masses of teeth?
Of course, the fight's not over. This swerve is actually done quite well, with shots that look reasonable for the end of a fight. Of course, the fact that the fight only lasted 30 seconds should tell you that it isn't over. And Hades is kind enough to let us know that this is "only halftime." -_-
As Herc and Phil walk away, the monster starts to reanimate and grow three new heads from the stump. Yep: it's Hydra time! Pegasus comes down to give Herc a lift, and as they swoop away, Herc cuts off a few more heads. Because that worked so well the last time.
And it is at this point we understand why the Hydra is made of CG. Because you really can't animate a monster with 40+ heads through cel animation. Phil is kind enough to point out that cutting off heads isn't exactly helping. As Pegasus tries to fly off, Herc is knocked off the horse and lands in the mass of heads and long necks.
After some jumping to avoid various mouths, Herc finds himself pinned against a wall with a bunch of pissed-off Hydra heads looking at him. Hades utterly murders this moment, stripping it of all possible tension by calling this "sudden death," his "favorite part of the game." Sorry, but pop-culture laden gloating by the villain is not the kind of narration that helps sell a scene.
As the heads rush to him, Herc smashes his fists into the wall, causing it to collapse on top of the Hydra. And himself. Wow, did... did they actually honor Greek Mythology here? Sure, the Hydra is only supposed to grow two heads rather than three, but that's minor.
Anyway, we get another "they think Herc is dead" moment, even though they clearly show us that the only part of the Hydra not buried under tons of rock is its hand. The one it had Herc in. Naturally, the crowd, which apparently has no sense to leave the area when a 40+ headed beast is around, applauds wildly. Even Meg applauds, though Hades is naturally pissed.
And then... oh God, not that damned gospel choir again. Didn't we leave you behind after your fifteen minute
prologue? Was that not enough time spent with them? They proceed to sing while we get a "Herc being awesome" montage. The actual plot-relevant parts of this are that Hades keeps sending stuff to kill him, but Herc keeps winning.
The odd thing is that the plot-important stuff isn't what the montage spends the most time on. The montage spends the majority of its time repeatedly hammering home is that Herc has become popular. Repeatedly. Ad nausium.
They will not shut up about how popular this guy got. I've seen Mary Sue fanfics that did not gush over their own self-inserts with this level of gusto. Oh, and the cavalcade of pop-culture references makes its unwelcome return, as we see innumerable highly anachronistic crap that's apparently meant to be funny.
"Air-Herc." Those are things that are in this film.
Jesus Christ, it's like Disney somehow became Selter-Berg, years before those two assholes became inexplicably popular. This is terrible in every way. Do they not understand that this worked in Aladdin because they had Robin Williams
delivering the jokes? That references in and of themselves are not funny? That they have to be part of actual jokes before they become funny?
Air-Hercules sandals are not intrinsically funny!
Anyway, cut to Hades after the montage. We get some padding/exposition that tells us that Hades only has 24 hours to deal with Herc before the plan comes to fruition. The actual plot shows up when Hades gets the idea to send Meg to investigate Herc and find out his weakness. She's reluctant, saying that she has "sworn off man-handling." Ha.
Hades is kind enough to drop some of Meg's backstory. She apparently sold his soul to him. Whatever that means. I mean, he's "lord of the dead", not "lord of the dead that I personally made deals with". He gets everyone's
soul. Oh right, They Just Didn't Care
. Moving on, she specifically sold her soul to save her boyfriend's life. But then he ran off with someone else.
So Hades decides to make her a deal. If she can find Herc's weakness, he'll set her free. Whatever that means. What exactly does it mean to be free of the Lord of the Dead? Does she become immortal or something?