Uncle Buck and Hercules: Together Again!

Hercules: adapted from the comic book written by Steve Moore by Ryan Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos; directed by Brett Ratner; starring Dwayne Johnson (Hercules), Ian McShane (Amphiaraus), John Hurt (Lord Cotys), Rufus Sewell (Autolycus), Ingrid Berdal (Atalanta), and Joseph Fiennes (King Eurystheus) (2014): The late comic-book writer, mystic, and subject of an extremely odd but rewarding book by Alan Moore (Unearthing) Steve Moore got royally screwed out of what was a pittance of money (reportedly $15,000) when compared to the $100 million budget of this movie, based on his Hercules comic book. Moore re-imagined Hercules as a sort of proto-Doc Savage, complete with colourful sidekicks. There’s a slight hint of such revisionist films as Robin and Marian in this one, as the myth of Hercules and the reality of Hercules are revealed to be quite different.

For all that, it’s a somewhat retro and mostly enjoyable entertainment. It really feels more like a swords-and-sandals movie from the 1950’s and 1960’s than a modern movie, which isn’t a bad thing at all. And director Brett Ratner doesn’t embarrass himself. Dwayne Johnson and the other actors are an appealing bunch, and if you like watching long sword-and-spear battles, you’ll probably be happy. History buffs should note that the film is set several hundred years too late, perhaps as many as 700 or 800 years. This Hercules could have helped out at the Battle of Thermopylae. Lightly recommended.

Uncle Buck: written and directed by John Hughes; starring John Candy (Buck Russell), Jean Louisa Kelly (Tia Russell), Gaby Hoffman (Maizy Russell), Macaulay Culkin (Miles Russell), Amy Madigan (Chanice Kobolowski), and Laurie Metcalf (Marcie Dahlgren-Frost) (1989): Decades of dire film comedies have made Uncle Buck, John Candy, and John Hughes loom ever larger in the comedic pantheon. 

Even the kids (including a pre-Home Alone Macaulay Culkin and Gaby Hoffmann) are funny, and have funny things to do. But this is Candy’s vehicle. His charisma and comic timing fix a lot of the rough patches. And I’d forgotten how strangely hyper-competent and assertive Hughes allowed Candy’s character to be. He’s a drill-wielding, death-threatening, door-busting one-man army. Even his golf balls are deadly weapons. Highly recommended.

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