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This quite seriously looks like someone took a bad idea for a Hercules/Xena
two-parter, pitched it with storyboards, was turned down because the
budget would have been too high, and instead talked Raimi and Tapert into
turning the storyboards into a cartoon of the worst quality. Motion is
minimal, proportions are inconsistent, the characters are downright
could go on, but I think the rot is creeping into my brain.
Don't let this one into your home...seriously.
I'm not saying it's devoid of good points - the original cast members
furnish their characters' voices; it's only 76 minutes long; and lots of
Joseph LoDuca's unoriginal but rousing music from the two shows is tracked
in as underscore.
But that's it.
John Loy's script completely misses the spirit of the live-action shows (tellingly, he never wrote for either "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" or "Xena: Warrior Princess"); the inclusion of three (bad) songs is pointless and irritating, especially the one sung by the Titans; and the animation is, quite simply, appalling - from the giant sea creature that keeps changing colour during the opening battle with Hercules to draughtsmanship that achieves the remarkable feat of making Gabrielle look ugly (when she hasn't been turned into an eagle... poor Renee O'Connor. Then again, she gets the least dialogue in the bad script), this is cheap animation without any of the charm that other cheapskate cartoons can have.
Not that the Disney version of "Hercules" didn't have any flaws of its own, but it's streets ahead of this one in all respects; if the parent shows were as bad as this one (and some people say they are), they would have been about as successful as "The Adventures of Sinbad."
Who did the animation for this movie? A Kindergarden class? The background was done in like two colours the entire movie! And the two colours were poorly used as well. I was very disappointed with this film.
Well, okay, maybe we didn't expect musical numbers, of which one, "We're
Titans," is exceedingly bad (We're the Titans - boom chucka lucka lucka -
boom chucka lucka") although the others are okay.
Basically it's a big-budget version of a Hercules episode (even the CGI of the show couldn't sustain these monstrous fights). The problem is, they didn't want to seem to spend _any_ budget on the animation. Minimalist backgrounds and crudely drawn figures might be some kind of stylistic statement. Then again, it might just be cheap animation. The characters themselves are rather grotesque: Xena has a odd reddish streak in her hair, while Herc is grotesque: one scenes has his veins literally bulging out of his arms during a moment of extreme exertion. As Aphrodite would put it, "Gross!"
Even the plot is pretty minimalistic: doesn't Olympus have more than 5 gods?? It's nice that they got Kevin Smith for the always sneaky Ares (and Alexandra Tydings as Aphrodite, although her character has nothing to do), and there are some funny kid-type moments (the Olympians being turned into farm animals). Generally, though, it's a lot grimmer than the Hercules series: closer in tone to a Xena "serious" episode. Of course, there's no real continuity with the series, either, which has never had Alcmene head off to live with Zeus before her series death.
Basically, H&X ain't bad as a kiddy flick, and die-hard fans of the series, which the movie apparently caters to, probably won't be disappointed. But other than that, there's not much to recommend it.
Sam Raimi's Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995) and Xena: Warrior
Princess (1995) of the same year has left fond memories for many small
screen audiences. Kevin Sorbo had a way of being a very macho
convincing Hercules, while Lucy Lawless gave something for nerds to
drool at. Both series combined action, wit, likable characters and
story lines that reeled in fans. Interestingly enough, some people
aren't familiar that Universal Studios released an animated cartoon
feature of these two famous characters. And compared to many other
animated features that have been released, it does have its flaws but
it still is fun.
The title, (although a mouthful) explains itself. Xena and Hercules will battle for Mount Olympus. Simple as that. Just like Disney's Hercules (1997), the four elemental titans attack the Immortal Gods and its up to Earth's mightiest heroes to fend them off. However, what differs is that John Loy (the writer) was smart and stuck to Sam Raimi's story line where Hera (Hercules' immortal mother) is the one who unleashes the titans. Why - because Hera hates Hercules - not Hades. Hades minds his own business in this film.
Thankfully, along with the writing, the actors who play the characters in the live-action series came back to voice their cartoon counterparts as well. That's a very good thing. Imagine if the studio hired new actors to voice the characters. That wouldn't be wise. And because the actors are playing their respective characters, the dialog comes naturally making the listening experience easy as well. This also helps make the comical scenes funny too. Kevin Sorbo (Hercules), Michael Hurst (Iolaus) and Kevin Smith (Ares) carry much of those parts. Even Lucy Lawless (Xena) has some rather unconventionally funny scenes.
The last couple of parts that help make the watching experience enjoyable were the action and music. The title doesn't lie, there is plenty of battle moments in this movie. And for a PG film, it has some tense moments. Either way that's effective. And since this is a Raimi production, composer Joseph LoDuca should be expected to be on board - which he was and his score is effective for each scene. But here's where some people may be turned off. First, this animated feature also contains musical numbers sung in the intro, by Xena, and even the titans. Since this isn't a Disney production it may seem avant garde, considering the TV series didn't have musical numbers.
Also some viewers may not appreciate the animation. At points it can look choppy even though the action scenes are exceptionally good. The main characters are drawn appropriately but it also seems like that's the only other place all the effort that was put into. Everything else from the background pieces to the minor characters weren't given much attention. Some characters from head to toe are one full color. That can come off as cheap and lazy. The dimensions of this world are very flat and too squared off in some areas. Along with that are some very strange flaws in continuity. It's not always obvious, but when noticed, it is baffling. It really depends on the opinion of the viewer and what you're interested in seeing.
For the most part, fans of the Hercules and Xena TV series should enjoy this animated feature. It's animation certainly isn't as polished like Disney's but the voice cast makes it work along with some fun action and music.
Animation offers the opportunity for film makers to throw off the
constraints of live action and produce creative, intelligent and original
work. See the Simpsons and The Iron Giant for examples.
That opportunity has been badly squandered here. The bursts of genuine genius and joi de vive that typify the live action originals are gone. Instead we are left with a mediocre slog that would have been tiresome without the breathtakingly appalling animation that makes "He-Man" look cutting edge.
O.K.,maybe this film isn't perfect and the animation leaves something to be desired but so what? This is Hecules and Xena for God's sake plus Iolaus and Gabrielle so stop carping.No-one should ever tackle the subject of Herc again after t.v's wonderful legendary journeys and this is so,so much better than the Disney effort that it makes comparison obsolete.All the songs are good too; no "BLESS MY SOUL, HERC IS ON A ROLL" nonsense here thank goodness.This has yet to be shown in any form in Britain but that should come as no surprise to anyone;if it had been Czechoslovakian,subtitled and dealing with the human condition in all its angst it would never be off British television.Thankfully,it is none of those boring things and all the better for it.A very enjoyable effort....7 stars.
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