FFlashback: Hercules (1997)

Let’s go the distance and travel back to ancient Greece for our next Disney retrospective: Hercules…

 

The One Where: Based on the Greek myths, Hercules is a demi-god son of Zeus who must commit a truly heroic act before he can join his parents on Mount Olympus. Things are complicated, though, by the interference of the Lord of the Underworld, Hades…

Star Turns: The first name on your lips when talking about Hercules is James Woods. His fast-talking delivery of Hades’ already great dialogue makes him one of the most entertaining Renaissance villains. Susan Egan is terrific as Meg, as well. Much more cynical and sarcastic than usual Disney women, she’s a welcome breath of fresh air.

Best Song: While Hercules’ gospel music does give the score a distinctive flavour, I think the style of it does jar with the material in a way previous films hadn’t. Probably the strongest song is the more usual Disney effort ‘Go The Distance.’ It’s your typical ‘hero wants somewhere to belong’ number but it is darn catchy. Interestingly, this would turn out to be the last proper musical of the Renaissance era (Mulan has fewer songs).

Verdict: After two films that tried to ape Beauty and the Beast, Hercules takes the Aladdin route of being an all-out comedy adventure flick. Myth mavens might take umbrage with the loose take on the source material (Hercules is made more of a Superman figure than usual), but the rest of us can enjoy all the fun. There are some terrific designs for the different Greek Gods too. With a stronger score and a more focussed plotline, this would be in the upper tier of this era.

Hidden Scar: The Lion King fans won’t fail to recognise the lion skin that’s on Hercules’ floor – it’s only Scar! This is possibly a nod back to a moment from that film where Zazu says that Scar “would make a very lovely throw rug.” His appearance here has led some Disney fans to theorise that the two films take place in the same era (as does Aladdin)

Disney-Easter-Eggs-Hercules-Scar-e1409243760871

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