After receiving the complaints following Pocahontas, Disney would never quite strike the balance that made their earlier “Renaissance” movies so good. Both Pocahontas and The Hunchback were more serious adaptations, and with Hercules, they seem to overcompensate by loading the film with comic relief characters, a gospel choir for the sake of explaining exposition, and one-note protagonists.
Hercules’ character arc runs exactly as you would expect it to; Phil is the resentful mentor who we’ve seen done many times over; Meg is the sassy, quick-witted romantic interest who the protagonist instantly falls in love with. Except, Meg is given a back-story which actually injects some potential into this story for adults. Meg is basically a slave for villain Hades because she bargained with him to save her boyfriend’s life, only for him to run away with another woman. Had this not been casually glossed over in the film’s fast, sporadic pacing, Hercules could have been a great movie. As it is, Hercules has enough colors, songs, and jokes to entertain the kiddie demographic.
Verdict: Properly Rated
Kevin’s Favorite Moment: Megara sacrifices her life for Hercules
Hercules is a joyride of a movie, full of comedy and slapstick, and retaining a great rewatchability because of it. (Number of times I’ve thought “I kinda want to watch Pocahontas“: 0. Number of times I’ve thought “I kinda want to watch Hercules“: 100+.)
Meg is one of Disney’s all-time intriguing characters, but I agree with Kevin that her backstory could have been fleshed out a little bit more. The real show-stealer, though, is the sarcastic Hades who I was almost rooting for by the end of the movie.
Throw in unique character designs and a rambunctious soundtrack, and you’ve got a gem.
Dan’s Favorite Moment: “That’s Phil’s boy!”
Final Grade: C (73%)—a Greek myth comedy-styled musical that is dumbed down for the kids.
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