Max, an adorable yet mischievous twelve year old boy meets a talking dog named Hercules, who takes him to the North Pole to meet Santa and argue his way onto the "nice list."Max, an adorable yet mischievous twelve year old boy meets a talking dog named Hercules, who takes him to the North Pole to meet Santa and argue his way onto the "nice list."Max, an adorable yet mischievous twelve year old boy meets a talking dog named Hercules, who takes him to the North Pole to meet Santa and argue his way onto the "nice list."
Plot - Hercules the pit bull has a magic collar (it glows red when Herc talks . . . sometimes). As one of Santa's minions, he is sent to an orphanage to reform a 12 y/o boy, but runs afoul of a young man seeking a job, one of the goofiest toy manufacturer in history, and a rival candidate for the job, all as the young man pursues the store receptionist. So far, not too unusual for a cable Christmas movie.
Director/Cast - Edward Hightower claims to have made three other movies, but it looks like a semester project for a second-semester film class. With a cast composed largely of dinner-theater rejects, he has nothing to work with, but even a few semi-competent actors, Kathy Garver and Mackenzie Phillips, their performances are either stilted or horribly uneven. I'll blame the director. Danny Arroyo as the romantic lead delivers a performance worthy of Ed Wood's dentist. I think he was actually upstaged by the performance of the dog. At least Herc's voice was looped in, leaving the other actors with no excuse. Anthony Robinson has to be somebody's relative, recruited off the stage of his local middle school. He shows flashes of talent, but no consistency. At least Arroyo was consistently bad.
Technical - Here's where the movie achieves true "Plan 9" status. Lighting is sufficient to see, but that's it. Shadows fall all over the set, a couple of green screen sequences are so poorly lit that the chromakeyer can't make much out of the effect, so it looks ragged. Note that these same sequences appear to be lit in blue because the clipping isn't responding to the green screen - making everyone look like they're freezing to death. Cutting seems to have been done measured by the foot - almost totally random.
Audio was incredibly poor, boomy and off mike in interior scenes, shot obviously in real locations rather than on a sound stage. Exteriors were not filtered for background noise, so the actors' lines were buried in street noises and incessant carols broadcast from a storefront. With only a handful of setups, it's obvious this project was shot on a shoestring, but low budget doesn't have to mean such miserable quality is acceptable. Apparently there was no budget for post-production, so special effects approximated those of a fifties Japanese monster movie.
I actually have to give "Hercules Saves Christmas" a very guarded recommendation. If you want to see ugly, this is your Christmas movie. It has a truly miserable script with a barely discernible plot, a director who's only other credits must include a kid's birthday party, and a cast slightly more wooden than that of "Team America", and a tech crew that probably had a week's experience on a student project somewhere.
My wife and I decided to erase the DDR about three minutes in, but we stayed until the credit roll because it was like watching an hour and a half train wreck. You couldn't avert your eyes, it was that bad. A similar movie, "The Search for Santa Paws" (Disney) was far superior, if you can take one of the sub-plots lifted directly from "Annie".
- Dec 27, 2011