Hercules ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
The son of Zeus and Hera is stripped of his immortality as an infant and must become a true hero in order to reclaim it. On Disney+
Hercules (which celebrate 25 years this year) has all the trademarks and characteristics of classic Disney animation from the ‘90s: the classic fairy-tale, the songs, the fast-paced irreverent jokes, the funny anachronisms, the usual stock characters (Baddy? Check. Cute animal? Check. Side character/comic relief played by a famous actor? Check Check Check).
There’s nothing really wrong with it per se, in fact it’s perfectly watchable and my son seemed to have enjoyed it, but watching it last night, I couldn’t help feeling it is a bit of a side-show to better ‘90s Disney products, like Aladdin. It definitely plays it a bit too safe. It’s not irreverent enough, nor does it push any boundaries in terms of storytelling or animation.
They tried to do something a bit different with some of the songs, adding a Gospel twist, but most of them are pretty standard. Go the Distance by Michael Bolton is the only redeeming song in the whole film, though even that one doesn’t sound too dissimilar from many others before (Pocahontas’s Just around the riverbend for example).
Today very few talk about this one in the ever-expanding Disney catalogue. This is possibly because of the lack of any memorable scene and especially of any inspiring or interesting characters. Let’s face it, Hercules himself is a bit dull: Tate Donovan’s voice is perfectly serviceable, but hardly memorable (interesting bit of trivia: Ricky Martin provided the voice for the Spanish-language edition).
The little winged horse Pegasus doesn’t really do much and has zero relevance to anything that’s happening on the screen. Even Danny DeVito, while fitting the character perfectly in its appearance, is just about enough funny to get away with it, but to be honest I’ve only watched the film last night and I can hardly remember a single joke (though I do remember the slightly misogynist approach to women he seems to have, which definitely dates the film!)
James Wood tries to add some verve to his fast-talking Hades, who flares red whenever he becomes enraged, but he never really comes across as threatening as some of the best baddies in the Disney canon. The fact he was based on a Hollywood agent or a car salesman type probably explains why.
At the time the film was famously dismissed by the Greek media as “another case of foreigners distorting history and culture just to suit their commercial interests”, but interestingly a live-action remake (of course) is apparently being developed by Walt Disney Pictures.
Hopefully they’ll be able to give it a little bit more character and weight.
There’s a lot worse you can do with your kids and this is a pretty innocent and harmless film, but don’t expect a classic.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick
Hercules is available to watch on Disney +
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
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