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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 48: "Hercules"

(Originally published on 12/1/22)



11/27/2022

Hercules

Run time: 93 min.

Release Date: June 13, 1997

Where/when I first saw it: First time

How I watched it today: Disney+, Sunday evening

After the dark “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” the Disney team seemed like it was trying to do a complete reversal with “Hercules.” Here, they could go back to the formula that they knew so well and, this time, try to have everyone be the comic relief. Not a shred of darkness hare, really, and this is a movie in which James Woods plays the villain. In fact, he probably never had as much fun as he did here. It’s a shame we couldn’t actually see his performance. But we also have Danny DeVito, Bobcat Goldthwait and Matt Frewer to keep things light, as well as a Greek chorus made up of soul singers that will remind viewers of the three women in “Little Shop of Horrors.”


Unfortunately, Hercules himself is a bit of a dull character to have to root for. Unlike the many Disney heroines of this era, the hero here has pretty much the same dilemmas (“I don’t belong here…what is my destiny?”), but not much personality. It suffers from the same problem “Pocahontas” did a few years prior. It’s all too easy for Disney now and the expectation is that the hip-for-its-time humor will carry everything.


Some of it is fun. The musical numbers with the chorus pop off the screen and give the film its lifeblood when it needs it. The emotional lift that had been so evident before during this time is absent. At least “Pocahontas” had the stunning “Colors of the Wind” number to make up for the shortcomings and anchored the relationship of the characters. Here, everything feels too aloof and without suspense. There are some very funny moments, but at this point, we had come to expect a lot more.

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