Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Disney's "Hercules" Movie Review

Disney's 35th Animated Feature Film Hercules is animated wonder that crosses over into areas other than fairytales, a place no animated Disney feature had gone before. Instead of fairytales, Hercules is loosely based off of Greek Mythology and the mighty divine hero Heracles, his name was changed to Hercules after the Romans came in and adopted the Greeks' many heroic legends and made it fit their own culture. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, directors of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, and featuring the voice talents of Tate Donovan (Hercules), Danny DeVito (Phil), James Woods (Hades), Susan Egan (Meg), Rip Torn (Zeus), and Samantha Eggar (Hera),  Hercules joins the collection of Disney movies whose music was composed by Academy Award winning Alan Menken,  famed composer of Beauty and the Beast and many other Disney classics. This film is an interesting must-see for anyone who loves Disney classics and/or who love the wonderful music composed by Alan Menken.

Hercules starts off with a majestic sounding narrator, (Charlton Heston!), beginning to tell the story of Hercules, however he is soon interrupted by the 5 Muses, Goddesses of the Arts and Proclaimers of Heroes, who claim that the narrator is making the story sound like "a Greek tragedy" and that he needs to lighten up. They take over the narration of the story of Hercules and take us back to the beginning of the world way before Hercules was even born in the opening number song "The Gospel Truth I." They begin by telling the story of the god, Zeus taking control of the world and saving the people of Greece from the gigantic and menacing Titans by locking them in a vault under the ocean. Zeus was the king of all gods and traps the Titans by throwing thunderbolts that chain them into their prison. "Zeus tamed the globe while still in his youth. Though, honey it may seem impossible, that's the gospel truth!" sing the Muses. They continue to explain how the Greek gods lived on Mt. Olympus and we head away from the narration at that point and go to the "present day" on Mt. Olympus where Hercules has just been born and the gods are having a party to celebrate his birth. They almost immediately show one of Hercules' identifying traits, his enormous strength, when Zeus (Torn) wiggles his finger at the baby and Hercules grabs his dad's finger and lifts him over the cradle.

Zeus also proves that Hercules is impervious to getting hurt since the little baby grabs a thunderbolt from his dad's toga and starts to play with it and then chew on it. Of course, he gets zapped but since he's a god he's okay. Zeus and Hera (Eggar) then give Hercules their gift. It is the flying horse Pegasus, but right now he's just a foal. Hercules then bangs his forehead against the head of Pegasus to sort of claim him as his own. They are so cute together!

Everything is going perfectly, everyone is oohing and sighing over the beautiful baby boy and his baby horse, everyone's happy and then Hades (Woods) arrives to spoil the mood. Of course he's upset because Zeus made him the lord of the underworld, which is a full time job that serves to punish Hades by demeaning him and therefore he plots to overthrow Zeus and claim Mt. Olympus for himself. This new addition to Zeus's family does not sit well with Hades' plans and after getting humiliated by Zeus again, he leaves and travels back to the underworld where the dead are. The Muses narrate this with the song "The Gospel Truth II." When he gets down there he meets his 2 minions Pain, (voiced by Bobcat Goldthwait), and Panic, (voiced by Matt Frewer). He has important plans to discuss with the Three Fates and orders them to tell him the instant they get there. Panic then says "Oh. They're here." and then Hades blows up (figuratively but with red fire all over his arms and shoulders) at them and then gives himself a memo to maim them after his meeting with the Fates. He goes to join the Fates in his main meeting area with his map of the world table with pieces (different gods and goddesses) scattered over the surface in specific areas. None are important at the moment and Hades arrives just after the Fates cut a woman's Thread of Life thereby killing her and her soul comes down to the underworld entering a specific tunnel that has a sign over it saying "OVER 5,000,000,000 SERVED" as her soul enters the number changes to 5,000,000,001. Hades begins by apologizing for being late however before he finishes the sentence the Fates interrupt him and say "We knew you would be. We know everything. Past. Present. And Future, (aside to Panic: indoor plumbing-- it's gonna be big)." Hades then starts to explain that he lost track of time while he was at the party but the Fates interrupt him again  and say "We know!" Hades replies "Yeah. I know... you know. So here's the deal: Zeus, Mr. High And Mighty, Mr. "Hey, You, Get Off Of My Cloud," now he has--" interrupted yet again by the Fates who join him in saying "-- A bouncing baby brat." Then one of the Fates loudly says "We know!" Hades has finally lost patience with the Three Fates and yells as his shoulders and arms spout fire "I know... you know. I know. I got it. I got the concept."(That's one of my favorite movie lines to quote.) Hades proceeds to ask if the new baby Hercules will interfere with his hostile takeover of Mt. Olympus and he has to flatter the Fates a bit before they agree to tell him. They begin speaking in verse and what they say means Hades takeover of Mt. Olympus will work! Of course Hades is all but jumping for joy until one Fate says "A word of caution to this tale. Should Hercules fight, you will fail." And the Fates disappear leaving Hades screaming "WHAT?!" So he comes up with a plan to kill Hercules but first he has to have Pain and Panic give the little baby a formula that will turn the infant into a mortal (and make him killable) then he tells Pain and Panic to kill Hercules after he drinks EVERY last drop of the potion. That is extremely important. He must drink EVERY last drop before Hades' minions can kill him. 
Pain and Panic leave and they kidnap Hercules and force him to drink the potion. As Hercules drinks, you can see the godhood leaving him and turning him into a mortal. But right before he finishes the bottle two people hear the commotion and come over. Pain and Panic drop the bottle, we see it break and one tiny drop of formula hits the ground and disappears. Pain and Panic hide behind a rock as Amphitryon and Alcmene come around the corner and see the little baby all alone crying on the ground. Alcmene goes over and picks the baby up and tells hers husband Amphitryon that the gods have finally answered their prayers for a child. While she's talking Pain and Panic turn into snakes and come over to kill Hercules but Hercules sees them and grabs them and ties them into a knot. Then he twirls them over his head and throws them away. This of course shocks Hercule's new parents. And at this point in time the Muses come in and do another narration song to tell how Hercules grew to a young man and kept his awesome strength since he did not drink the last drop of potion in the song "The Gospel Truth III."
We jump ahead to when Hercules is a teenager who can't control his strength and in this scene he destroys the Agora building where all the Grecians come to trade simply by accident. However, it is implied that this kind of thing has happened before when someone says that "This is the last straw!" Other people jeer and call him a freak and tell him to go away and not come back. Back near his home his father tries to comfort him but Hercules only tells him that he feels like he doesn't belong here and that he is suppose to be somewhere else. This leads into the Academy Award nominated song "Go the Distance."
This is during the song "Go the Distance"

It is a beautiful song about how Hercules wants to find the place where he belongs where people will be glad to see him and cheer for him. During a music only piece of the song Hercules parents tell him that they found him and that they found the pendant with the gods' symbol on it around his neck with his name "Hercules" carved on the back. Hercules thinks that this is the answer. He should go to the Temple of Zeus and ask the gods where he belongs. His foster parents send him off and Hercules sings some more as he travels to the temple. He ends the song as he reaches the temple. It is very big with a huge statue of Zeus at the end of the room. He prays to Zeus and asks "Who am I?" and then lightning hits the statue and it comes to life and reaches to pick Hercules up. Hercules screams and tries to run away, even when Zeus has him in his hands he still tries to escape until he hears Zeus say that he is his father. Hercules stops trying to escape and listens as Zeus tells him what happened back when he was a baby. He finishes by telling Hercules that the only way he can restore his godhood is if he becomes a true hero. Zeus sends for Pegasus who remembers Hercules and after a head bang Hercules remembers Pegasus and Zeus sends them off to find the trainer of heroes Philoctetes (DeVito).  Hercules flight on Pegasus to find Phil's island has him singing a "Go the Distance" Reprise.
He reaches the island but it is very dark and dreary and not what he expected from the great trainer of heroes. He walks around looking for a man and on the way he sees what looks like a trapped goat. Hercules, thinking to be nice gently pulls the goat out of the bush only to find out that it wasn't a goat it was a satyr (half-goat and half-man)  who did not want to be freed. He was spying on some female nymphs who quickly run away from him. Finally Hercules asks the satyr where he might find Philoctetes and the satyr replies, "Call me Phil." Hercules is overjoyed at finding him but then dismayed when Phil refuses to train him. He begs and pleads and tries to convince him to no avail. He finally asks Phil "Haven't you ever had a dream, something you wanted so bad you'd do anything?" This makes Phil pause and he brings Hercules inside to show him some stuff. He shows him statues, pottery, and his dream. "I dreamed I was gonna train the greatest hero there ever was. So great, the gods would hang a picture of him in the stars... all across the sky, and people would say 'That's Phil's boy.' That's right. Eh, but dreams are for rookies."Hercules goes to prove Phil that he can go the distance by flinging a humungous saucer across the ocean. Phil thinks about it for a minute then tries to snap out of it. Hercules begs to be trained because "if [he] doesn't become a true hero, [he] can never rejoin [his] father, Zeus." At this point Phil thinks he's lying and this leads into the song "One Last Hope" in which at the beginning Phil basically says I'm not a fool so don't both but his answer to Hercules request for training is "Two words..." then he gets struck by lightning and changes his mind to "O.K." Next comes a montage during the song of Hercules' training starting off very badly but by the end of the song he is fully trained and grown up. 

Then he and Phil (and Pegasus) leave to go start building his reputation as a hero in Thebes but on the way they come across a D.I.D (Damsel in distress). So Hercules goes to save her from the river guardian Nessus however she tells him to keep moving causing him to say "But you-- Are-Aren't you... a damsel in distress?" She replies "I'm a damsel, I'm in distress. I can handle this. Have a nice day." Well Hercules decides to save her anyways but even though he succeeds he doesn't do things perfectly. He dropped his weapon and instead picked up a fish and defeated the river guardian but in the process go the damsel thrown into the river. So it was a very clumsy rescue and gets scolded for it by Phil. In the process of scolding Hercules, Phil reminds him of the damsel he saved and Hercules gets sidetracked and goes over to her to clumsily introduce himself and ask who she is. She's Megara but "My friends call me Meg. At least, they would if I had any friends. So did they give you a name along with all those rippling pectorals?" Hercules: "Uh, I'm, um, uh--" Meg: "Are you always this articulate?" Hercules: "Hercules. My-- My name is Hercules." Meg: "Hercules, huh. I think I prefer Wonderboy." And that's what she calls him most of the time throughout the movie. He leaves with Phil and Pegasus after failing to get her to agree to come with him on the unwilling Pegasus. So she's in the woods alone and comes across 2 woodland creatures who turn out to be Pain and Panic. Meg was in the woods talking to the River Guardian to try and get him on Hades' side for the uprising. When Hades shows up she has to tell it was unsuccessful but "I gave it my best shot, but he made me an offer I had to refuse." Hades: "Fine. So, instead of subtracting 2 years from your sentence, hey, I'm gonna add 2 on, okay? Give that your best shot." Meg pleads "Look, it wasn't my fault. It was this wonderboy, Hercules." Panic (to Pain): "Hercules? Why does that name ring a bell?" Pain: "I don't know. Um, maybe we owe him money?" Hades (to Meg): "What was that name again?" Meg: "Hercules. He comes on with this big innocent farm boy routine, but i can see through that in a Peloponnesian minute." Pain (to Panic): "Wait a minute. Wasn't Hercules the name of that kid we were supposed to-- (Together): Oh, my gods! Run for it!" Hades grabs Pain and Panic by the throats. "So you took care of him, huh? Dead as a door nail. Weren't those your exact words?"  Pain and Panic protest while Hades is choking them. He says "I'm about to rearrange the cosmos, and the one schlemiel who can louse it up is waltzing around in the woods!" Hades blows up with fire coming out of his head and shoulders and his arm sockets and burns down the tops of all the trees around in in one second. Hades then starts to make plans on how to kill Hercules, again.
We go back to Hercules and Phil who have now reached Thebes "The Big Olive itself. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere."Hercules overhears some townspeople complaining about monsters and natural disasters and then offers his services as a hero but no one will take him seriously or give him a chance. Then Meg comes running in and tells him that 2 boys were playing in the gorge when they got trapped by a rockslide and Hercules needs to go save them. Hercules is ecstatic to have a chance to prove himself and grabs Meg, puts her on Pegasus (who heard her say she had a terrible fear of heights and proceeds to make the flight she's on a terrible one) and they for the gorge. He gets there, followed by townspeople and lifts the huge rock trapping the 2 boys over his head and they run out, the townspeople sort of clap for him and Hercules throws the boulder off to the side. The kids run off and up the side of the gorge until they reach Hades. Then they turn back into Pain and Panic. Now this boulder had in fact been plugged into the opening of a cave in which a terrible monster lives and Hades plan was for Hercules to get killed by the monster within. It is the home of the Hydra, a huge reptilian, dragon-like monster with 2 legs, a tail, and a really long neck holding up a mouth with tons of sharp fangs who comes out to ready to fight. This scene has some amazing cg and animation effects built into it. Hercules tries to fight it but loses his sword and has to get it while he is holding the hydra back by the teeth. He finally succeeds but when he prepares to swing the sword the Hydra sticks out its long tongue like a frog and grabs Hercules and swallows him. Just when the Hydra turns to attack the townspeople he stops suddenly and looks at his throat as Hercules cuts through it all the way around and beheads the creature. He then falls down in the slimy goo around him. Phil comes over, the audience applauds and Hercules gets up to go get cleaned up. Meanwhile Pain and Panic are terrified that Hercules beat the Hydra until Hades tells them to clam down "It's only halftime." As Hercules and Phil are heading toward the people they hear movement behind them. It's the Hydra and out of it's neck come 3 heads where there use to be only one. Suddenly Hercules has to fight again and does so with all his strength. He calls Pegasus to help him. He goes overboard with slicing heads off because by the end the Hydra has 30 heads. (I did the research and heard the animators say this in the behind the scenes bonus stuff.) 

As he's flying by one of the heads, he gets knocked off of Pegasus and falls down between the many necks until he hits the cliffside. He starts to slide down until one of the monster's clawed hand/foot stops him and holds him against the cliff. As they all prepare to eat him, Hercules hits the cliff as hard as he can. This causes a huge rockslide that effectively kills and buries the Hydra but in doing so it also buried Hercules with it. Everyone is sad and somber except for Hades who thinks he's won. But then the paw of the Hydra that is trailing outside of he rocks starts to open and Hercules appears and the crowd goes wild and Hades gets mad! Meg is actually happy that Hercules is alive and gives him some applause too. The crowd carries Hercules off and as he passes Phil, Phil says, "You did it kid! You won by a landslide!" The pun was intended I'm sure. This is where the 5 Muses come back in as they sing the song "Zero to Hero" to a montage of Hercules beating/killing monsters and becoming famous, signing autographs by chipping them into rock, earning tons of money, statues are built plays are written and Hades is floundering. "I can't believe this guy. I throw everything I've got at him and it doesn't even--" you hear rubber squeaking and then see a close up on Pain's new sandals. They are Air Hercs. Hercules' brand shoes. Hades sees them and asks dangerously "What are... those?" Pain: "Um, I don't know. I-I thought they looked kinda dashing." He grins sheepishly up at Hades who is not happy and this next line increases in volume and pace until Hades turns red and fire is all over him and he says, "I've got 24 hours to get rid of this bozo, or the entire scheme I've been setting up for 18 years goes up in smoke, and you are wearing HIS MERCHANDISE!

Pain cringes as Hades starts in towards him and they both hear a slurping noise from a straw in a drink that's almost finished. Hades turns blue again and Pain has a brief respite but Hades still has fire all over him and we see that Panic is drinking the Hercules brand of drink. Panic looks at Hades then looks at the Hercules trademark on his cup then back at Hades and holds out the drink towards him as he says, "Thirsty?" Hades anger is beyond words as he screams and blows fire at Pain and Panic who are burnt to a crisp, (but as in most cartoons they are fine in the next minute). Meg has been watching this and says to Hades, "Looks like your game's over. Wonderboy is hitting every curve you throw at him." Hades sees Meg saunter over to watch Hercules playing to the crowd below with her hips swishing side to side and says "I wonder if maybe I haven't been throwing the right curves at him, Meg, my sweet." She automatically realizes what he means and says "Don't even go there." Hades: "See, he's gotta have a weakness because everybody's got a weakness. I mean for what? Pandora, it was the box thing. For the Trojans, hey. They bet on the wrong horse, okay? We simply need to find out Wonderboy's." Meg is not happy with this and says "I've done my part. Get your little imps--" "They couldn't handle him as a baby. I need someone who can... handle him as a man." "Hey, I've sworn off manhandling." Hades replies "Well, you know, That's good because that's what got you into this jam in the first place, isn't it? You sold your soul to me to save your boyfriend's life. And how does this creep thank you? By running off with some babe. He hurt you real bad, didn't he, Meg? Huh?" Meg: "Look, I learned my lesson, okay?" Hades: Which is exactly why I got a feelin' you're gonna leap at my new offer. You give me the key to bringing down Wonder Breath, and I give you the thing that you crave most in the entire cosmos: your freedom." 

The scene cuts to Hercules at the Temple of Zeus telling his dad how he fought off some monsters and other stuff he's done. Zeus is laughing and agreeing and tells Hercules that he is making him proud. When Hercules hears that he thinks Zeus means he can come home and rejoin the gods. Zeus stops him and says he's not quite there yet. He hasn't proven himself a true hero. Hercules doesn't understand. "But, Father, I've beaten every single monster I've come up against. I'm-I'm the most famous person in all of Greece. I'm-I'm an action figure!" Zeus say that's isn't what a true hero is and that Hercules must look inside his heart. Then Zeus leaves and Hercules is frustrated and upset.  
We cut to the next day where Hercules is posing for a painting in his humongous Villa. He is posing holding a club and wearing a lion pelt (a cameo for The Lion King's Scar) while a grecian artist is painting him onto and urn. Phil is telling Hercules what his schedule will be for that day. He has to go meet King Augeas and then get a girdle from some Amazons. While he's spouting off this list Hercules is trying to get Phil's attention without moving. It doesn't work and the artist gets mad and leaves after Hercules throws off the lion pelt and his shield hits the urn that the artist was painting causing him to mess up and ruin the picture. Hercules is mad because none of the things he's doing seem to be working towards making him a TRUE hero and he pauses to think about why he's continuing to do this. "What's the point?!" he yells at Phil. Phil gives him a short pep talk and by the end of it he says "there is nothing you can't do, kid." The door opens and in run five teenage girls intent on touching Hercules and taking pieces of his outfit for themselves. Hercules is crushed and pushed to the floor by the girls where he whispers for help from Phil who distracts the girls so Hercules can escape and hide behind a curtain while Phil leads the girls on a wild goose chase out the door. As he leaves someone closes the door behind him and it's Meg, who proceeds to try to persuade Hercules to play hooky with her and escape his pressured life for awhile. When Hercules mention the Phil has the day pretty much book Meg replies as she pulls him closer to her by his tunic "Ah, Phil, schmill. Just follow me. Out the window, round the dumbbells, you lift up the back wall and we're gone."
So we skip to later that night where it is apparent that he and Meg played hooky all afternoon. They had dinner and went to see the play Oedipus on which Hercules comments "Man! I thought I had problems." They are now walking through a beautiful garden just after sunset in beautiful colored twilight light. It is obvious that Meg has enjoyed being with Hercules and has not yet tried to get the info that Hades wants her to so the two cute little birds bathing in the birdbath briefly have the heads of Pain and Panic and remind her to "Get the goods, sister." This is such a nice romantic scene and it's hard to put into words without writing out the entire conversation down word for word. Suffice it to say that Meg eventually does try to find out what Hercules' weakness is by using her womanly charms but Hercules replies that he is as fit as a fiddle and gets off of the bench they were on because Meg has gotten a bit too close for comfort. So he walks over to a small pool of water that has as statue of a woman in the far end of it. Hercules skips a rock off the water with so much force (accidentally) that it knocks off the statues arms and the camera turns to face it and to reveal to us that Hercules was the one who cut off the Venus de Milo's arms. Meg tells him that it looks better that way.

A star shoots across the sky and Hercules tells Meg that when he was younger he would have given anything to be like everyone else. "You wanted to be petty and dishonest?" asks Meg. Hercules: "Everybody's not like that." Meg, sounding and feeling sadder replies, "Yes, they are." Hercules: "You're not like that." Hercules walks over to Meg and she turns around to face him and says "How do you know what I'm like?" They step closer to each other and Hercules replies "All I know is you're the most amazing person with... weak ankles I've ever met." Meg steps back only to have a certain statue's arrow hit her and she does a double take hen she sees that the statue is Cupid. Hercules tells her  "Meg, when I'm with you... I-I don't feel so... alone." Meg steps away and goes to sit on the edge of the fountain as she says "Sometimes its better to be alone." Hercules: "What do you mean?" Meg: "Nobody can hurt you." Hercules realizes that Meg's been hurt before and goes over, puts her hands in his and sits beside her on the edge of the fountain. "Meg? I would never, ever hurt you." Meg: "And I don't wanna hurt you, so..let's both do ourselves a favor and..." Hercules starts to move in and kiss her and right before their lips meet Phil and Pegasus show up, police in helicopter style. 

Phil manages to get Hercules to agree to leave and he gives Meg a flower and a swift peck on the cheek before getting on Pegasus and waving goodbye and he doesn't turn and face forward as they fly until physically turns Hercules' head causing Phil to get knocked off of the horse, hit the ground and pass out. Pegasus and Hercules continue to fly off and as soon as they're gone Meg tries to convince herself that she isn't in love by singing the next song called "I Won't Say I'm in Love."

Just after Meg finishes the song, Hades shows up and wants Meg to tell him Hercules' weakness. She refuses and Hades pretends to be confused for a moment and says he didn't hear correctly and she tells him to read her lips. Then Hades says "Meg, Meg, Meg, my sweet deluded little minion. Aren't we forgetting one teensy-weensy, but ever so crucial little, tiny detail? I OWN YOU!"

This yell wakes Phil up to discover that he's got another horn growing on his head and he overhears Meg and Hades at precisely the wrong moment. He overhears Meg telling Hades that if he asks for Hercules head on a plate she should say "Medium or well done?" So Phil's convinced she doesn't love Hercules and never has and he goes to tell Hercules this. He doesn't hear Meg refuse to tell Hades Hercules' weakness and protests that he's different from the other guys she's known and he wont hurt her and then and she gloats that Hercules, in fact, doesn't have a weakness and he's gonna... But she gets cut off as Hades tells her that he's sure Hercules does and although he doesn't say it, it is implied that his weakness is in fact Meg. Hades does say he can't believe she's so worked up about a guy.
So we leave and go back to Hercules at the stadium where Phil tries to tell Hercules that Meg's a liar and has been playing him for a sap and that she doesn't love him. While this goes on Pegasus is lured off by Pain and Panic formed as a female winged horse and caught in a trap but neither Phil nor Hercules notices it. Phil continues to argue with Hercules about Meg. This finally enrages Hercules enough that he actually hits Phil with enough force to throw him into a pile of dumbbells and chains. So Phil leaves since Hercules won't believe him. Right after he leaves, Hades shows up and asks Hercules to give up his strength for 24 hours and take a day off from being a hero. Hercules says no until Hades reveals that he has Meg as a captive. When Hercules sees that he agrees and Hades takes all his strength away on the condition that he will get it back in 24 hours or if Meg gets hurt he gets it back immediately. Then he releases Meg and then reveals that Meg's been working for him the whole time. Then Pain and Panic yell at Hercules that "A hero's a zero!" before everyone leaves but meg and Hercules who are on their knees far away from each other bent and broken in heartache. 

We follow Hades as he goes and releases the Titans from their prison so they can go attack Mt. Olympus and help Hades get rid of Zeus so that Hades can rule all. So they head off to do so but Hades stops them.

The Titans turn around and head to Mt. Olympus but Hades stops the Cyclops to send him back to Thebes to get rid of Hercules forever. The Titans invade Mt. Olympus and capture Zeus while the Cyclops goes and searches out Hercules who, even without his strength, goes to fight him. Meg tries to stop him by saying that he'll be killed. He replies with a accusing glance that "There are worse things," and moves on. Meg has to save him so she finds and frees Pegasus and they go after Phil to try and get him to come and talk some sense into Hercules. Phil returns after Meg tells him that Hercules will die without his help. They come back and Hercules is bruised black and blue and basically has lost the will to fight back even to save his own life and he tells Phil, "You were right all along, Phil. Dreams are for rookies." But Phil says "No, no, no, no, kid. Givin' up is for rookies. I came back 'cause I'm not quittin' on ya. I'm willing to go the distance. How 'bout you?" Hercules looks like he's going to agree but then the cyclops grabs him and says he's gonna bite off his head but as he brings Hercules up to his mouth Hercules grabs a flaming torch and shoves it towards the cyclops' only eye causing him to drop Hercules who lands in a wagon, grabs some rope and twists and twines it around the cyclops' ankles causing the titan to fall off the cliff never to be heard from again. However, as Hercules watches him fall a column behind him broke when the cyclops fell and falls down toward Hercules who will be crushed under it except that Meg jumps and pushes him out of the way and instead the pillar crushes her under it. Hercules screams no and tries to lift the pillar despite having no super strength however he gets it back as he's lifting because Hades' deal was broken and Meg got hurt.  He asks her why and she responds, "People always do crazy things... when they're in love."

He ries to find words for his feelings but stumbles over them and Meg tells him he still can beat Hades but he needs to hurry up. Phil says he'll watch over her while Hercules stops Hades. So he leaves after promising Meg that she will be all right. 

Meanwhile Hades' takeover of Mt. Olympus has gone well. Everyone is captured and Zeus is buried under lava and ice (i.e. rock). Hades has just conjured himself a martini when Hercules arrives to save the day. Hercules releases Zeus from his rock prison and together they get rid of the Titans. Hades knows he's been beaten because of what the Fates said at the beginning of the movie but he has his last laugh as he tells Hercules, "Thanks a ton, Wonderboy. But at least I've got one swell consolation prize-- a friend of yours who's dying to see me." Hercules rushes as fast as he can to get back to Meg before her thread of life is cut but he is too late and she is dead. Hercules is devastated and sobs while holding Meg's body and Phil tries to comfort him but "There's some things you just can't change." The music changes tone and Hercules looks up "Yes, I can."

We go back to Hades who is in the underworld yelling at Pain and Panic about how Meg ruined his plans when he hears a noise and it's Hercules bursting in riding on the three headed dog Cerberus. He demands that Hades gives Meg back her life but Hades say hold on and let me show you around. He takes Hercules to the place where the river of death is and Hercules sees Meg's soul floating by and reaches for her through the "water" which shrivels his hands up. Hades tells him nothing can be done now and he can't touch the River of Death. Hercules then offers to make a deal with Hades. He volunteers to give his own life to Hades in trade for Meg's. Hades thinks about it for a moment but decides ok and tells Hercules "You get her out. She goes; you stay." So Hercules jumps into the River of Death and then Hades says "Oh, you know what slipped my mind? You'll be dead before you can get to her. That's not a problem, is it?" So we see the Fates bring out Hercules' Thread of Life and get ready to cut it. We see in their eye portal Hercules swimming to get to Meg and aging drastically as he does so. He reaches for her hand as we see the Fates start to close the scissors but before the scissors can cut the thread it turns gold and won't cut. Cut back to Hades standing up near the river of death happy he has trapped Hercules only to see gold light shining and his glorious shining body coming onto the rock with Meg's soul in his arms. Hades is flabbergasted and stammers "This is-- This is impossible! You, you, you can't be alive! You'd have to be a, a--" Pain and Panic finish the sentence together and say "a god?" And Hades anger is beyond words now as he screams incomprehensibly. Then he tries to yell at Hercules, "Hercules, stop! You can't do this to me. You can't--" Hercules punches his face so hard that all the flames go out and all of Hades' facial features are shoved inside his head.Hades fixes his face saying "Fine. Okay. Listen. Hah! Okay. Well, I deserved that. Herc, Herc, Herc. Can we talk? Y-Your dad, he's a fun guy, right? So maybe you could put in a word with him, and he'd kinda blow this whole thing off, you know?" Hades then grabs Meg's Soul's face and says "Meg, Meg, talk to him. A little schmooze--" and this is going way beyond wrong and Hercules hits Hades so hard that he is thrown into the river of death and grabbed and mobbed by all the souls in there. Hercules leaves with Meg's soul as Pain and Panic look down into the River of Death. Panic says "He's not gonna be happy when he gets outta there." Pain responds "You mean, IF he gets outta there." Panic: "If. If is good."

Then we cut back to Phil and Pegasus by Meg's dead body and we see Hercules arrive with her soul and he gently puts it back into her body. At first nothing happens but then her color comes back and she breathes. She doesn't understand why Hercules did that for her and he responds with his voice echoing like the gods' voices do "People always do crazy things... when they're in love." She smiles then and they lean into kiss when a cloud is suddenly zapped under them and it takes them to Mt. Olympus with Pegasus flying behind them with Phil holding onto his tail. They arrive up there and all of the gods are cheering for Hercules as he walks up to his father and mother while Meg stays down where they landed. His mother, Hera says "Hercules, we're so proud of you." Hercules greets her for the first time, "Mother." Zeus steps up and slaps him on the back. "Hah! Fine work, my boy! You've done it! You're a true hero." Hera: "You were willing to give your life to rescue this young woman." Zeus: "For a true hero isn't measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart. Now, at last, my son, you can come home." And with that the gate to the gods' dwelling place on Mt. Olympus opens up to reveal all the majesty that's there while all the gods cheer for Hercules. Meg is down at the bottom of the stairs alone and sad because she believes that Hercules is going to be a god now and she'll have to live on earth alone. However, Hercules looks back and sees her then he turns to his father and mother, "Father, this is the moment I've always dreamed of. But..." he turns around and is suddenly behind Meg reaches out and takes her into his arms and says "...a life without Meg, even an immortal life,would be... empty. I--I wish to stay on earth with her. I finally know where I belong." As Hercules embraces Meg, Zeus and Hera look at each other and Zeus nods and Hercules becomes a mortal once more and he and Meg finally get to kiss. All the gods cheer and Hermes says to the Muses, "Hit it, ladies!" Which starts the final song "A Star is Born." Everyone is happy and Pegasus gives Meg a head butt of welcome and a big feather hug, Phil sees another beautiful woman, in this case the goddess Aphrodite, starts to come up to her the way he came onto everyone on earth who always rejected him but before he even starts talking she grabs him and kisses him until Hercules has to pull Phil onto Pegasus with him and Meg so they can go back to earth. There they meet up with his mortal family in Thebes and have a big group hug. Meg looks up at the sky and sees a constellation in the sky forming and tells the others to look up. Phil turns around and sees the picture in the stars of the greatest hero there ever was, trained by him just like he dreamed and then you see one of the Thebians close by nudge his neighbor and say while pointing at the stars,  "That's Phil's boy!" Another group hug with Phil over his dream come true and the whole movie ends with the celebration and we see the constellation sort of melt onto a Grecian urn where the Muses are singing and when they sing the last word they jump up onto the urn to take their place on it and roll credits.

Now here's a secret. Make sure you watch the credits until the end because you'll hear the voice of Hades saying "What d'ya say? It's happy ending time! Everybody's got a little taste of something' but me. I got nothin'. 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."

Now, the actors and animators more than met my expectations for this film, they exceeded it by miles and miles. The voices were perfectly emphasized and utilized in all the right ways. The animation itself was astounding. Disney Animation Department tried out a whole different look for this film and it worked. It hailed back to what you see on the Grecian Urns from that time period and the carving and the paintings. Hercules was a new leap in innovation. You'll see below a picture of the different backgrounds used in Hercules and you'll notice how much the differ from other disney movies. Even the major crowd scenes were leaps and bounds beyond the wonderful crowd scenes in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. And the Hydra battle's cg integrated animation was better even, in parts, than the ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast. You have to watch it. I'm inserting a video from Youtube containing it and it also has the song "Zero to Hero" at the end of it. Some of the quality of animation got a bit fuzzy in places at on the Youtube version because my DVD copy is much better than what this Youtube video shows. However, if you haven't seen the movie this will still look amazing to you. So watch it and see what I'm talking about. I can't get the video to load onto my page so go to the address below and you'll see it.

These layouts are much simpler than in other Disney movies.
Some more great animation shots are these:
This is from when Hercules visits the Temple of Zeus and the large statue of Zeus comes to life.

This is when Hercules gets his strength back after Meg gets hurt.

Hercules reaching for Meg's soul in the River of Death.

Here Hercules has just had his godhood restored after saving Meg's soul from the River of Death. This is one of my personal favorites.

The music was awesome, (I mean it's Alan Menken, of course it's awesome.) and it fit very well with the action taking place onscreen. The story flowed which is a difficult thing to do when not making a movie that already has the plot and storyline pretty much ready to use. The collaborative efforts of all the writers definitely showed in the way that the story was easy to follow and easy to identify with. One of my favorite things was the transfer from majestic narration by the amazing Charlton Heston to the animation and gospel style voices of the Muses. This transfer is made during the very beginning when we are being shown around a room of sorts kind of like in a museum full of statues and urns from Ancient Greece. We hear the voice of the first Muse interrupt the narrator and the camera zooms in on part of one of the Grecian Urns in the room we're in and then they bring the story to life on the pottery before we ever get to the story of Hercules. I was not sure how to explain this in my summary so I just told what the narration said but in this the Muses are going up to urns and the paintings on them come to life and help them tell the story. It really is amazing and definitely a major factor in how you see and listen to the whole film. The music is a mixture of gospel style music, hence the names of the first 3 songs. "The Gospel Truth I, II, & III," and Disney musical songs. The mix is nice to hear.

See the Grecian resemblance?

Another film technique I particularly enjoyed was the witty banter of the dialogue in the different scenes. One of my favorite lines is when we first meet Meg and she says -->

Another one of my favorite Disney trademarks is when they insert characters from other films in a non-disruppting way. It's also kind of funny to see one disney movie's prediction come true in another as what happens between this movie and The Lion King.

And Scar is now a throw rug.
See what I mean?
The references to real life events and other movie quotes used in context are favorite Disney techniques for me. They reference a lot of Greek mythological events that not everyone would notice but those who have learn about it will and it's a nice inside joke.
This is a reference to the Trojan Horse used to disguise fighters as a gift in actual history.
This is a reference the the movie The Karate Kid.
During the part of the movie where we go inside Phil's house there are Greek references everywhere. Hercules hits his head on part of the mast of the famed ship called the Argo. Even though, technically, the Argo had not sailed yet because Hercules was one of the people who sailed on it. Phil lists a lot of the heroes he's trained including but not limited to Achilles, Odysseus, Perseus, Theseus in other words see Phil's quote below.
Definitely go see this movie. It is awesome. And I'll let one quote from this movie end my review after I rearrange a few words:

"Two thumbs way, way up for [the movie Hercules]!"

1 comment:

  1. I have not watched this movie in so long, but I loved it when it first was released. I should definitely rewatch it soon. Great review.