Monday, 20 January 2014

Hercules (1997) - ★★★★

Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Voice Actors: Tate Donovan, Susan Egan, Danny DeVito, James Woods, Rip Torn

It's official! Even after 10 years, Hercules is still one of my all time favourite animated movies! Visually and musically, Hercules is just so different to all the other films Disney has ever made, sporting a great use of 3D monsters, and also wonderfully catchy soul-music. I was pleasantly surprised at just how emotional the film made me. It doesn't quite reach the same league as Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King though, due to its lack of beautiful dialogue, powerful scenes, and most importantly, originality. Some of the jokes are a bit too cheesy and childlike for me, but I used to find them hilarious when I was younger, so I can forgive that. As a child, Hercules would have been one of my top 10 favourite movies to watch over and over on video-tape. To this day, the powerful wave of nostalgia makes me love it all the more.

Hercules, you had one job! ONE JOB!
Zeus (the king of the Gods) and his wife Hera welcome their new baby Hercules into the world, who possesses an insane amount of strength. However, Hades (the God of the Underworld) has a bone to pick with Zeus, who screwed him over thousands of years ago (thus leaving him to rule in that cesspool of lost souls). Hades plans on usurping the throne and becoming ruler, but the Sister's of Fate warn him that Hercules, should he live, will foil his plans. So Hades sends his two minions to kidnap Hercules, turn him mortal with a potion, and then kill him. The minions screw this up, and Hercules doesn't consume the last drop of the potion. Hercules is then left on Earth, mortal, and raised by an old couple who found him. He must become a hero in order to regain his status as a God.

I absolutely adore the bold usage of soul-music for this movie set in Ancient Greece! Hercules brings diversity to the Disney Renaissance. Instead of spine-chilling choirs and orchestras, we get funky music to shake our heads and click our fingers to! The songs "Zero to Hero" and "The Gospel Truth" are so electrifying! I just couldn't stop moving to the beat! Thank goodness they saved the story from sounding like "some kind of Greek tragedy!" Instead, they turned it into a story about "HUNKULES," as the sassy, short, chubby muse would put it. I'm pleased they had at least one classic, beautiful ballad in the mix. "Go the Distance" is easily one of the greatest Disney songs ever written. Not gonna lie, I shed a tear when I heard it again after all these years. The song I loved the most was "I Won't Say I'm In Love," sung by Meg (Susan Egan). That song is just... unbelievably awesome. It'd make my Top 10 Disney songs easily.

The character that made the movie for me was Megara. She is one of the sassiest, strongest, most noble female characters in Disney's history. Sure, at first she was despicable for aiding Hades (to save her own soul). However, she more than makes up for that when she shows her willingness to sacrifice herself for the good of the world, and more importantly, to save Hercules! She's just so different to all the other leading women in animated films... Meg is just a breath of fresh air! Not to mention, Susan Egan's voice is as smooth as butter... gives me chills just thinking about it. I'm so glad they allowed Egan to sing "I Won't Say I'm in Love." She just makes that song so memorable!

One of my all time favourite Disney mentors is Philoctetes (Phil), voiced by Danny DeVito. If you want sassy, then you'll find it wrapped up in this short, stout, fire-cracker of a character. My favourite moment from him was when he sang, "so you wanna be a hero kid, well, WHOOP-DEE-DOO." But seriously, I just adored his relationship with Hercules. Their friendship was one of the most touching things in the movie for me, especially towards the end when all the crazy sh*t was going down. Phil brings much of the excitement and hilarity factor in Hercules.

When it comes to voicing Hades, James Woods would be one of the LAST people I'd imagine to play the role. He turned out to be one of the best parts of the movie! He was by far the funniest character. I just loved the way he'd speak calmly, then explode with a hilarious punchline. He'd have to be one of the most likeable Disney villains of all time, despite his cringe-worthy looks. I couldn't get enough of Hades, or his threats towards his two bumbling minions.

You can't beat the visuals of these monsters either. Yikes!
Hercules was an extremely draining emotional experience. I enjoyed every single minute of it, from start to finish. What it lacks in grace and beauty, it makes up for with sheer excitement, hilarity, and innocent fun. It's not what I'd call a masterpiece from the Disney Renaissance, but it's certainly one of the most memorable from that era. I loved this film, I loved its message to "Go the Distance," and above all, I loved Hades, Phil, and Meg!

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