Disney Marathon: ‘Hercules’


For those just joining us, this is a movie marathon with a twist. Myself (cranky 30s blogger), my son Josh (stoic 10 year old Nintendo obsessive) and my daughter Amelia (drama llama 7 year old princess wannabe) are watching Disney movies in a random order and ranking them. We hope to see interesting differences in how we organise our lists.

Film: Hercules

Released: 1997

Director: Ron Clements & John Musker

Cast: Tate Donovan, Danny DeVito, James Woods, Susan Egan, Rip Torn, Lillias White, Cheryl Freeman, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Vanéese Y. Thomas, Bobcat Goldthwait, Matt Frewer, Paul Shaffer

Plot: Hercules, son of Ancient Greek gods Zeus and Hera, is stranded on Earth and as a mortal as part of a plot by Hades to take over Olympus. As Hercules grows up he must adopt his role as a hero to reclaim his place among the gods.

Review: Ok, listen. I’m a fanboy for Greek mythology. So I’m going to be shitty that Hercules was known as Heracles in Ancient Greece, that Hera wasn’t his mother, he was never a God, Hades wasn’t evil or have fire powers, that…well, bloody everything is wrong.

This may sound tiresome, but it’s downright confounding as to why they bothered adapting the stories of Hercules if they were going to stray so far from the usual myths. The few recognisable elements, such as the monsters Hercules fights, are completely removed from context so they don’t serve the same purpose in the narrative. Most of them don’t serve any context whatsoever. The gods – namely Zeus, Hera and Hades – have no common ground with their ancient inspirations, with Hades being the least accurately represented as he’s turned into the Christian Devil archetype (again) complete with demon henchmen. Megara loses her status as Hercules’ true love when you find out she was the first of four wives and didn’t play the most important role in the tale. Even the Titans are reduced to mindless elementals for the sake of the story.

So why use Hercules at all? Because he’s recognisable. He’s a familiar brand name with little in-depth knowledge among the intended audience. They’ve turned out a generic Hero’s Journey tale with a bland overlay. There’s a couple of clever bits of design using the Ancient Greek art style, and the Greek Chorus trope is a nice touch.

The most watchable parts of the movie are, as you know, the scenes focused on Hades. James Woods has noted that everyone else at the audition was doing the standard snarly, megalomaniacal villain routine, so he thought he’s mix it up with a casual, used car salesman bit. This is the most unique part of the film, and his ad-libbed banter is a welcome diversion from whatever boring thing Hercules is doing. It’s a shame that he’s saddled with a unbelievably generic and nonsense scheme about taking over the world when the planets are aligned for some silliness.

It’s hard to work up the motivation to go back to this one. So much of the concept, such as the parody of 90s sport celebrity culture, falls flat or takes up such a small sliver of the plot that it just adds to the runtime.

Best Song: ‘Zero to Hero’ is the best known track here, but it gets very overused during the film, but Meg’s character piece ‘I Won’t Say I’m In Love’ is the most engaging.

Coolest Easter Egg: That would be Scar being worn by our lead while he’s posing for a portrait.

Weirdest Trivia: The Spice were almost cast in the roles of the Muses, but a scheduling conflict prevented this. This would mean they’d be doing a Haunted Mansion parody during a song where the Muses appear as stone busts.

Rating: FOUR out of TEN

THE RANKING

ME

It’s just…it’s a hard movie to care about. A solid spot in the bottom half of the list.

Click those titles if you want to see what we said about the other movies.

  1. Zootopia
  2. Robin Hood
  3. Aladdin
  4. Wreck-It Ralph
  5. Alice in Wonderland
  6. Beauty and the Beast
  7. Moana
  8. Big Hero 6
  9. Frozen
  10. Tangled
  11. The Sword in the Stone
  12. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  13. Mulan
  14. Emperor’s New Groove
  15. Fantasia
  16. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  17. The Three Caballeros
  18. The Princess and the Frog
  19. Hercules
  20. Oliver & Company
  21. The Aristocats
  22. The Fox and the Hound
  23. A Goofy Movie
  24. Treasure Planet
  25. Chicken Little

AMELIA

The mid-90s seems to be Amelia’s biggest favourite period. If it’s not a modern film, this is the best chance of being appealing. She decided to demote the former favourite The Three Caballeros, as she got a bit tired of slogging through the average content to get to the gems.

  1. Frozen
  2. Emperor’s New Groove
  3. Zootopia
  4. Moana
  5. Mulan
  6. Hercules
  7. Alice in Wonderland
  8. Wreck-It Ralph
  9. Tangled
  10. The Aristocats
  11. The Princess and the Frog
  12. Robin Hood
  13. Beauty and the Beast
  14. The Three Caballeros
  15. The Fox and the Hound
  16. Oliver & Company
  17. The Sword in the Stone
  18. Aladdin
  19. Treasure Planet
  20. Big Hero 6
  21. A Goofy Movie
  22. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  23. Chicken Little
  24. Fantasia

JOSHUA

I didn’t mention the terrible ending to the movie in the main review, because Josh really hated the ending. He cannot fathom why he would turn down being a god, since he could just grant godhood to Megara or…you know…do whatever he wanted.

  1. Zootopia
  2. Big Hero 6
  3. Aladdin
  4. Emperor’s New Groove
  5. Treasure Planet
  6. Moana
  7. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  8. The Three Caballeros
  9. Wreck-It Ralph
  10. Frozen
  11. Mulan
  12. The Princess and the Frog
  13. Robin Hood
  14. The Sword in the Stone
  15. Beauty and the Beast
  16. Oliver & Company
  17. Tangled
  18. A Goofy Movie
  19. The Aristocats
  20. Fantasia
  21. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  22. The Fox and the Hound
  23. Hercules
  24. Alice in Wonderland
  25. Chicken Little