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Hercules and the Circle of Fire (1994)



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This third Hercules: The Legendary Journeys TV movie finally works out the kinks in the formula and finds the series' identity. Though just as cheerily campy as the earlier films, this one has a real sense of wonder and adventure to it and develops two real (or real enough, shall we say) relationships.

It seems Hera has stolen fire from mankind in an effort to destroy it. It's up to Hercules to recover it, but Deianeira (bizarrely, the name of the female lead in the prior film but clearly a different character) disapproves of his methods, and Zeus (Anthony Quinn, again the best part of the film) forbids him outright, for reasons of his own. The relationship Hercules has with these two characters is refreshingly adequate (not more than one can expect from this kind of fare, but not less), with an actual story arc to both. Contrast with the previous films, where Hercules' relationships were either static or unconvincingly dictated by the script.

The foes who confront Hercules are interesting, too, particularly a giant made out of rocks and tree roots. The special effects budget must have gone up on these things: the giant looks so, so much better than the awful serpent from Hercules and the Amazon Women.

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