on March 9, 2001
This is a great film for the kids and anyone interested in animation. The use of gospel music was a masterstroke and adds much to the livliness of the film as does the input from Gerald Scarfe, the mastermind behind Pink Floyd's "The Wall". His influence and artistic stlye are seen in every frame of the film and give it the most distinctive style and look of any Disney film since Sleeping Beauty. Highly original and beautiful. I espicially like the character design of Meg, they've made her to look like a walking grecian vase!
Story wise we've seen this a million times before, especially in all the recent Disney films. That said though, I still enjoy this film more than Aladdin, it's competitor for the funniest Disney film ever (that was until The Emperor's New Groove knocked them both out of the park). Children are sure to love the outragous humor, bright colors, music and light tone as well as the comical sidekicks (Pain and Panic) and monsters. Frankly, I'm confounded by the negative reviews here. Everything is done top notch except for the predictable Disney formula plot.
The DVD presentation is fantastic. The film is presented in widescreen, the colors are bright, blacks are deep and dark and the sound is crisp and clear. You couldn't ask for a better presentation. However, it lacks for extras. There is a 12 minute making of short that is somewhat insightful and a music video of Ricky Martin's Spanish version of "Go The Distance". Also included are a simple triva game and the storybook mode that's found on most Disney DVD's.
The crisp bright look of the DVD is enough to warrant a buy for a Disney fan, but add in the gospel music, humor, fantastical setting and daring animation style and you've got yourself a winner for anyone!
on June 3, 2000
Disney's grown up - to the point where each new animated release is sure to draw controversy and criticism from somebody; I personally was furious at the revisionism of Hunchback. I forgave them when this movie came out. Disney's Hercules is an experiment just like Fantasia, but many folks (it appears), disliked the tampering with Greek myth as well as the unfamiliar style and animation. But I've got lots of reasons to make it my new favorite Disney. First, Disney (in an incredibly bold move) hired Gerald Scarfe to design. His surreal yet powerful visions were always a highlight of Pink Floyd concerts; now they break ground in the same way that Little Mermaid did. While many of the characters appear weird and sketchy, their power seeps through every frame. And, as always, nobody does villains like Disney; Hades, Cerberus, the Titans, the whole Underworld - profoundly frightening in a whole new way. And Disney's forays into computer-generated animation again stop the show when Hercules battles the Hydra; even purists must agree to its power and brilliance.
Then there's the voice talent: James Woods predictably steals the show as Hades, whose wisecracks do little to hide his genuine evil. A close second is Danny DeVito as Phil, a satyr who's saddled with training the young and awkward Hercules to become a true hero; DeVito's given lots of jokes to tell, and only diehard stodges will fail to bust a gut at some of his remarks.
Which leads us to the music: I went out and bought the soundtrack because it was so good. Led by the Muses (who are transformed into the ultimate r&b/gospel choir), the songs have a delightful mix of 50's do-wop (Susan Egan's absolutely beautiful "I Won't Say I'm in Love"), comedy (DeVito's "One Last Hope"), and classic Disney uplift (Roger Bart as Hercules singing "Go the Distance"). Disney staple Alan Menken teams with lyricist David Zippel to deliver yet another brilliant soundtrack.
But what has made the movie my personal favorite is the message it has delivered to my three-year-old son; Disney's given lots to the girls lately (most of Disney's recent heroes have been heroines), but Hercules delivers the message that boys can grow up to be heroes as well. It's taught my son honor, generosity, and humor (well, I'd like to think I helped a bit). Hercules' journey from earthbound misfit to man/godhood is truly inspiring. My son thinks so, and so do I.
By the way, the special features enhance the DVD a great deal. It's always a pleasure to have the curtain pulled back to reveal the magic behind the magic.
Purists can just go to - well, the Underworld; Disney's Hercules was meant to be innovative, but it did much more than break ground - it taught my son a wonderful lesson.
on December 3, 1999
I am in graduate school for my masters in history and I know just about EVERYTHING there is to know about mythology and Greek culture and let me tell you, I LOVED this movie! All the people who hated it because of its inaccuracies should know that not ONE Disney movie has EVER been accurate. Cinderella's step-sisters cut their toes off to fit into the glass slipper. The Little Mermaid is supposed to DIE in the end. There is NO Gaston or dancing pots and pans in Beauty and the Beast. There is no wise-cracking genie in Aladdin. Hercules is NO different. But unlike those movies, the "true" story of Hercules is just plain awful. The story goes like this: Hercules is born after Zeus cheats on his wife. Zeus then has the baby feed on Hera's breast when she is sleeping. Then Hercules in a fit of anger kills his whole family, and spends his whole life killing monsters for his cousin as penance. In the end his second wife gives him a magic coat with which he burns himself to death because he cheated on her. Oh, what a great movie that would make! Honestly, the revamped story is VASTLY superior, and Disney did everything right as far as the geology of Greece, the architecture, the clothing, and many other little anecdotes. That's much more than I can say for any other version of Hercules including that god-awful Kevin Sorbo show. I see the movie more as a humorous look at ALL Greek myths. I think any student of Greek myths would agree. Sure the Gospel music was a bit much, but it fit the story beautifully.
on July 2, 2004
Precisely BECAUSE of the complete disregard for the original mythology, this movie is a superb teaching tool for middle schoolers. After a unit on Mythology, the kids can identify for themselves the many creative changes Disney opted to make, and even better, they can figure out for themselves why Disney made those choices. It makes the kids savvier media consumers, they enjoy spotting the "mistakes," and the music is terrific and holds their attention. We all enjoy the fact that nearly every time the Muses sing "and that's the Gospel truth!" they're referencing something completely FALSE. And the group scene at the christening makes a great "test" of those symbolic identifiers--the kids like being able to identify the gods and goddesses based on the clues in their appearance.
on July 12, 2005
I've always been a crazy fanatic about greek and roman history and mythology. Even with the gross inaccuracies (sp??) it's maybe my second favorite disney movie beneath the lion king.
The chorus is perfect for classical literature and fits in well. There are a bunch of witty little lines and actions. For instance in one scene hercules is posing with a lion skin over his shoulder, which is obviously Scar from the lion king. The love story is very cute. Phil is a little annoying, but he's always very funny. Alotta greek monsters which are comically animated. Hades is hilarious and my favorite role for James Woods. Pain and Panic are great comic relief. Meg is a beautifully created character and presents a story of redemption. The ending is also very heartwarming.
If you can watch the film without whining and pointing out the mythological flaws (while still knowing enough mythology to understand some of the jokes) I would definitely suggest it.
This is a review of the 2014 Blu Ray of Hercules. While Hercules never seemed to catch on like some of the other Disney titles, it still remains one of my favorite Disney titles. Maybe it's the dark version of Hades' Underworld, which is absolutely gorgeous in HD. Once Hercules is resigned to Earth, you really get to see the difference between the old DVD and this new HD version. The colors are absolutely brilliant, and the sound is better than I've heard before. One of the things I love about this movie is the stylistic animation which looks better than ever now with detail I've never seen before. Unlike the new Tarzan blu ray, Hercules does not have a lot of extras. What you see on the cover is all you get on this one: a 10 min. making of, Ricky Martin music video, and a sing along. Even though you don't get a lot of extra features on this title, this is still a worthy addition to your Disney library. The upgrade in video and audio alone are worth an upgrade from the old lackluster DVD.
on April 4, 2009
And That's The Gospel Truth.
I'm a big fan of all the Disney movies. The Disney Corporation has for just under a century, entertained generations with their loveable, funny and downright memorable characters and films. Historically, most people will prefer the old Disney film to the modern movies, but there's no doubting they still have their place.
Hercules was released during the rebirth of Disney ignited by the entirely computer animated Toy Story thanks to its collaboration with Pixar. You will be forgiven for thinking that Disney may have taken a bit of a step back reverting to the traditional hand drawn animation, but I'm sure there's a reason for that and it isn't entirely in 2D drawn animation. This particular movie was part of the Disney renaissance in which Disney reverted back to its classic ways of making movies based on classic characters and stories. Along with Hercules, other films in the Disney Renaissance were The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Mulan amongst others.
The plot tells of the ancient Greek myth of son of Zeus, Hercules, half God and half mortal. On his birth, the bitter and evil brother of Zeus, Hades lord of the Underworld is forging a plan to become ruler of all the Gods. He is approached by the fates who tell him that he will win in his plan as long as Hercules does not interfere. Because of this, Hades sends his stupid minions, pain and panic, to kidnap baby Hercules and feed him a potion that will turn him mortal, once he's mortal the plan is then to kill him. All does not go according to plan as Hercules doesn't drink every last drop of the potion and playfully disposes of pain and panic. Alone and stranded on Earth, Hercules is adopted to be brought up as a mortal.
We fast forward to his teenage years and Hercules is a klutz struggling with his own sense of identity and due to his god like strength, he simply doesn't fit in. He is told by his adoptive parents about his relation to the Gods and Hercules goes on a quest to find his true calling and become a true hero. Along the way, he meets his trainer, Philoctetes, a feisty girl by the name of Megara and fights the harrowing Hydra. These people all shape the man he eventually becomes to create a magnificent Disney classic about self discovery.
The animation is very unique in terms of drawing style and the flowing of lines and the brightness of the colours. It is drawn in the style of the paintings on the side of an Ancient Greek vase. The introduction of the Muses to sing in particular scenes add a musical individuality not seen before in a Disney movie. There is a combination of CG animation and 2D animation to make the experience more realistic and immersive, especially in the case of the fight between Hercules and the Hydra. The voice casting is absolutely perfect, with the exception of Hercules himself as I wasn't crazy about whoever voiced him. James Woods as Hades is almost perfect in him putting across the touchy lord of the Underworld prone to unpredictable outbursts of anger. Susan Egan as Megara is also a perfect match even though I'm not familiar with Egan's past or even current work. Of course, the real voicing legend is Danny DeVito is perfect for the touchy, down on his luck Philoctetes.
It's overall an absolutely amazing film and I was 11 years old when I first saw it. I'm now 22 and I reminisce about the first time I saw it and how much I appreciate it. If you're a parent, then this is a good film to introduce to your kids as although it's not in the slightest bit historically accurate, it's still a great way to introduce a new generation to Greek Mythology. The messages conveyed within are that of discovering ones own identity and remaining true to yourself and those you care about. It conveys this message with such subtlety that an adult can watch it and just enjoy the odd sly adult joke without feeling a bit patronised.
Born to Zeus and Hera on Mt. Olympus, Hercules was a prince among gods, and he would have stayed one too, if evil Uncle Hades hadn't sent his imps to steal him, turn him human, and kill him. They fail in their task though, and Hercules is left human but with god-like strength, to be raised by human parents. As Herc grows up, Hades believes he is dead, which is a bit funny since, being ruler of the underworld, he ought to know who's dead and who isn't. Though, Hades really isn't that into his work. As a young man, Herc discovers his true roots and wishes to restore his godhood, but in order to do that he must prove himself a true hero. Hercules seeks out Philoctetes, the hero-coaching satyr, and begins his monster fighting career upon his winged horse, Pegasus. Meanwhile, Hades pursues his plan to take over...well, everything, by releasing the titans to help him fight Zeus. Now, it's up to Hercules to save everyone, if his new infatuation, the lovely but cynical Megara, doesn't screw things up! In the end, we learn the meaning of a true hero and have the makings of a hilarious animated TV series to boot!
The story may seem to have more in common with Superman 1 and 2 or the New Testament of the King James Bible than the actual Greek myths it is based upon, but Hercules really is a wonderful addition to the Disney classics! And it's a musical comedy, so get over yourself if you have a problem with it not being a perfect adaptation of the original Heracles stuff! Why would you turn to a Disney animated feature for something like that? What it is, is a musical, mythical good time worth revisiting again and again! You can't go wrong with Disney legend Alan Menken behind the soulful and upbeat music and masters Ron Clements and John Musker at the wheel! The voice cast is excellent, including Tate Donovan as Herc, Danny Devito as Phil, Susan Egan as Meg, Rip Torn as Zeus, Bobcat Goldthwait and Matt Frewer as Pain and Panic, Paul Shaffer as Hermes, Charlton Heston as the Narrator, and many more. Of course, James Woods is the voice that really steals the show as the hilariously evil Hades! The animation and design are Disney at its best, and even though this is a comedy, there's no shortage of drama, romance, action, or heart!
Long overdue for a much more spectacular release, this Gold Collection DVD lacks the oomph such an excellent film deserves. The picture and sound are fine, but the widescreen is non-anamorphic and there are only two extras. One is a much appreciated and charmingly dated Behind-the-Scenes featurette, and the other is a Ricky Martin music video for the Spanish version of "Go the Distance" ("No importa la distancia"). I find it very odd that they included that video and not the Michael Bolton English version. And, yes, I like Michael Bolton's music. Nevertheless, since this is the only release available and there's been no sign of a Special Edition coming anytime soon, I highly recommend this edition for every DVD collection. Hopefully, and all the more likely now that Blu-Ray has come along, a more appropriate release full of design sketches, trailers, commentary, and all that good stuff will come about in the future. I also would love to see the Disney animated TV series make its way to DVD (though not one 3 or 4 episode disc at a time). It was an excellent follow-up to the film, telling the tales of Herc's teen years having to deal with both Phil's training and the rigors of high school. You can sample a bit of it on the VHS release "Hercules: Zero to Hero". One of Disney's "fake sequels", Zero to Hero ties select episodes of the wonderful animated series together with some badly drawn new animation. Of course, being a completist, I want that one to come to DVD too. The linking animation gives us our only view of Herc and Meg after the events of the film.
on February 1, 2012
Hercules is easily in my top 10 Disney movies, possibly top 5 of all time. I love the characters, animation style, all of the songs are fantastic and I think the story (yes, we know, isn't 100% accurate to Greek myth, get OVER IT) is wonderfully written :) I am disappointed that this is the only option we have for home media of the film. It is not anamorphic and is just a terrible transfer. This and Hunchback received the same poor treatment. If you are looking to purchase this film for the first time I would say just wait for the blu-ray. It is hopefully coming soon (probably not 2012, so 2013 perhaps?) A clip of Hercules was featured in a Tangled special feature highlighting Tangled as the 50th animated feature and the clip is CRISP and BEAUTIFUL, so again, hopefully a blu-ray release is on the horizon, it's LONG overdue.
on February 20, 2005
An unusually clever and satisfying movie, suitable for both children and literate adults. The plot is a Disney template: Hercules must discover his identity, learn the true nature of heroism, do his parents proud, and win the girl, all of which he achieves by an act of self sacrifice.
A run of the mill coming of age story, then, but several things make the film more than a boring rip-off of ancient themes. First, the drawing has an elegantly fresh look to it, with many witty visual references to Greek vase paintings, sculpture, architectural lines and so forth. There are also quite a few quips and puns for grownups (Thebes is the Big Olive, for example, its residents speaking in New York accents) including plenty of cute jokes about the classics. Pedants can enjoy cataloguing the allusions and "mistakes".
The music is pleasant, a lot of it sung by an updated "chorus" of gospel singers. Finally, the characters are vividly sketched, with Hades really stealing the show. Some of the animated figures amusingly caricature their real life voice actors. (See The Making Of supplement.) The rich background of the myths gives the story more depth and darkness than it would otherwise have.
Bottom line: appeals to a different audience than some Disney favorites, but a very smart production with many original aspects. Too much neglected.