Starring: Tate Donovan, Susan Egan, James Woods
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Running Time: 93 mins
Hercules is an American film about the son of Zeus who, after being stripped of his immortality, must become a true hero to reclaim it.
I had so much fun with this movie. Most Disney films from the 90s are undoubtedly enjoyable, but there’s something about Hercules that makes it really stand out from the crowd. With fantastic energy and humour throughout, combined with unique animation, a great soundtrack and a simple yet engrossing story, it’s the sort of film that will thoroughly entertain you for an hour and a half, ultimately leaving you with a big smile on your face.
There’s a lot to love about Hercules, but I want to start off with one of its most unique elements in comparison to most Disney film: the animation. During their First Renaissance, Disney made a clear effort to portray different cultures and styles through their films, something made clear in with the different animation styles employed in the likes of Pocahontas and Mulan that reflect those cultures’ characteristics.
Hercules, however, goes one step further than any of those films, and almost completely changes up the classic Disney animation style. Of course, you can still tell that this is a Disney movie just by looking at the bright cartoon visuals, but there’s a stark visual uniqueness to this film that, in both the design of the characters as well as the locations, emulates various elements of Ancient Greek culture and mythology that give it a delightfully special and striking feel, which really impressed me.
Of course, when you’re watching a Disney film like this, you’re looking for great entertainment, and Hercules delivers just that from beginning to end. The plot follows your typical hero story, but it’s through the story’s energetic adaptation of Ancient Greek mythology as well as a lively range of likable characters that really make it an enjoyable watch.
With classic mythological beings like Zeus, Hades and more all brought into a cartoonish setting, there’s a great opportunity for fun and games parodying their main characteristics, all the while still using their imposing legacy to give the film a discernable elegance that you won’t see in a lot of modern hero stories, which made the film even more fun to watch for me.
Also, the characters are really good throughout. Again, the plot follows a fairly basic formula, but in that there’s room to develop some very likable and relatable characters, with Hercules proving a massively enjoyable lead that’s a whole lot more than just an action hero, and supporting players like Megara, Philoctetes and more all proving hugely entertaining and funny throughout, something that’s furthered by a collection of excellent voice performances across the board.
Throughout, Hercules is a delightfully bright and energetic film that, although isn’t the world’s deepest or most original film, isn’t shy to be out-and-out family entertainment, never falling into any melodramatic traps surrounding romance or drama that many other Disney films unfortunately do. There’s fantastic comedy throughout that’ll make you laugh, there are great songs that you’ll want to sing along to, and there’s a good bit of heart too to make you smile right till the end, and that’s why I’m giving Hercules an 8.1 overall.