Hercules, son of the Greek God, Zeus, is turned into a half-god, half-mortal by evil Hades, God of the Underworld, who plans to overthrow Zeus. Hercules is raised on Earth and retains his god-like strength, but when he discovers his immortal heritage Zeus tells him that to return to Mount Olympus he must become a true hero. Hercules becomes a famous hero with the help of his friend Pegasus and his personal trainer, Phil the satyr. Hercules battles monsters, Hades and the Titans, but it is his self-sacrifice to rescue his love Meg which makes him a true hero. Written by
Kristi Connolly <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The promotional ads featured Hades saying "Two thumbs way way up". Film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel complained, pointing out that "Two Thumbs Up" is a phrase uniquely invented and trademarked by them, and the use of it in promotional ads implied that the film had received "Two Thumbs Up" when only Ebert gave it a favorable review. Ebert thought the ad was misleading and unfair and asked that the line be removed from the ads (which it was), Siskel quipped that they ought to make it "Two Thumbs Down." See more »
All numbers in the sequence "Zero to Hero" (in Hercules' credit card, when the muses give him a 10, "X") are Roman numerals. The Ancient Greek versions of the numbers would be alpha, beta, omega, etc. See more »
Long ago, in the faraway land of ancient Greece, there was a golden age of powerful gods and extraordinary heroes. And the greatest and strongest of all these heroes was the mighty Hercules. But what is the measure of a true hero? Ah, that is what our story is...
Will you listen to him? He's makin' the story sound like some Greek tragedy.
Lighten up, dude.
We'll take it from here, darling.
You go, girl.
See more »
Hades (James Woods) says: "What d'ya say? It's happy ending time! Everybody's got a little taste of somethin' but me. I got nothin'. I'm-- I'm here with nothin'. Anybody listenin'? It's like I'm-- What am I, an echo or something? Hello? Hello? Am I talking to, what, hyperspace? Hello, it's me. Nobody listens. See more »
A Disney musical revolving around Greek mythology seems like a great idea. And in Disney's Hercules, the house of mouse makes great use of the famous characters and setting of Greek mythology. There's some hip, gospel songs and plenty of successful humor. So much works in this movie, but it's all sadly counter-balanced by everything that doesn't work.
Hercules is born to the god and goddess, Zeus and Hera respectively. And while there is joy at his arrival, Hades wishes to do away with the baby, as his fortune reveals Hercules as a potential threat. Hades sends his two dim-witted minions, Pain and Panic to turn Hercules mortal, and then kill him. Unfortunately for Hades, Pain and Panic slip up when Hercules transformation from god to mortal gets stopped part way through, causing Hercules to retain his supernatural strength, but remain mortal. Hercules longs to be reunited with his parents and the other gods, though he cannot until he becomes a hero, which will then allow him to be turned back into a god.
The set up for this story is extremely rushed, and feels almost tacked on. It's like Disney didn't want to spend much time developing the opening, and were more interested in cutting to the action. As a result, there isn't much at the beginning that's of interest, with the exception of one excellent gospel-style song, but I'll get to that later.
The characters are mostly uninteresting. Hercules and the romantic interest, Megara (known as Meg) are almost completely personality-less, while Philoctetes (known as Phil), Hercules' trainer, is just a big grump. Only the villain, Hades, is at all interesting, even if he's basically just a hipper version of Jafar or Scar.
Focusing less on story, Hercules relies on humor to get by. And while most of the humor is successful and funny, there aren't many big laughs here. Disney's next attempt at a hip comedy (The Emperor's New Groove) is a much more successful and enjoyable film.
There's some curious character oversights, and some muddled messages here and there. There are dull stretches, and the action at the end is a bit excessive. Flaws are not hard to find.
The songs are of ranging success. The majority of the songs are jazzy gospel tunes, complete with a group of African-American women singing the lyrics. Not only are these songs an innovative and refreshing concept, but the songs are fun and energetic too. It's hard to suppress a smile during these delightful numbers.
And yet, there are two songs that don't fit into the gospel theme. They are entitled "Go the Distance" and "Our Last Hope." Both are relatively terrible and instantly forgettable. "Go the Distance" exists only to explain Hercules' desire to go home. This is the kind of song that could've been written in 5 minutes over lunch. "Our Last Hope" has a terrible rhythm and bland lyrics and is ultimately, a mess.
It surprises me that a song was not provided for the villain, Hades. Just about every Disney films has had a song for the villain, so why did Hades have to miss out? His slick and sly personality would've been perfect for a nice jazzy beat.
The voice cast is a mixed bag. Tate Donovan provides a bland voice for Hercules, and Danny DeVito does the same for Phil. Susan Egan's voice for Meg is much more unique. It's a shame there wasn't an interesting character to go with it. James Wood is wonderful as Hades, providing a perfectly sly and confident voice for the villain.
The animation is detailed enough, but the animation style is a bit of a problem. The flat, geometric look just makes the animation appear cheap and lazy. CGI is occasionally integrated into the animation, and it looks great.
Alan Menken's score is superb, if a little shy of his work in other Disney films of the time. Grand melodies and exciting action music make this score a success, even though it sounds a bit familiar to Menken's score for Aladdin.
Sometimes funny, but riddled with flaws, Hercules is a disappointing Disney feature. As much as I wanted to like Hercules, there's just so much that doesn't work here. I felt uninterested in the characters and the story, and for most of the film, I was just waiting for the next toe-tapping gospel tune. The 90's was a great time for Disney, but Hercules may not be the best example of such success.
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