Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Friday, 24 September 2010
Based on the Ancient Greek myth about Heracles (known in the film by his Roman name of Hercules), son of Zeus, this is Disney's 35th mainstream animated feature.
The plot centres on the titular Hercules (Josh Keaton as a child, Tate Donovan as an adult), son of Zeus (Rip Torn), who is snatched as an infant by Pain (Bobcat Goldthwait) and Panic (Matt Frewer), on the orders of Hades (James Woods), who doesn't want there to be another God that could overthrow him. Hercules is left to grow up in Ancient Greece, but struggles to fit in due to his Godly strength. As an adult he learns that he isn't a mortal man and reunites with Zeus and learns of his true heritage. Determined to be a mighty, worthy God and hero he and flying horse Pegasus (Frank Welker), his best friend as an infant, go to Philoctetes (Danny DeVito), a.k.a. 'Phil', a satyr who has spent decades training heroes, but has never found a truly worthwhile one. Hercules proves himself in his training and starts going out to be a hero, taking on every monster Hades can throw at him.
First, let's go over the highlights of the film...
The animation is very bright and very detailed, capturing the design and essence of Ancient Greece to a tee. The monsters sent by Hades are awesome, visually, and really capture the image in your head that comes from reading the myths. The visuals of the climactic battle with an army of Titans resurrected by Hades is visually stunning as it is filled with fire, lightning, hail and so many other elements that are eye-catching and gripping. Danny DeVito and James Woods as Phil and Hades is perfect casting. Danny DeVito does what we expect from him as an actor, in creating a bad-tempered little fella, and making him comical due to his bad temper and tantrums. James Woods's distinctive vocals make Hades very spine-tingling and cold, just like a well-voiced Disney villain should be.
Now for the drawbacks...
Zeus, I feel, was underused as a character. He is meant to be the ultimate God, yet his parts just weren't long enough, and it's a let-down to readers of the myths as Zeus is very prominent and frequently featured in them. Also, each of Hercules's battles with a demon/monster/titan thrown at him by Hades feels a little too rushed, with the action all too crammed. Hercules fights and defeats at least a dozen in a short space of the film's running time, and I feel that it would have been a lot more memorable if they had just taken three but dragged them out to make them epic fights. There are also some truly irritating characters, most of all The Muses (Lillias Thomas, Vaneese Y. Thomas, Cheryl Freeman, LaChanze, Roz Ryan) - painting characters that come to life to sing and narrate. Their constant breaking into song, distracting from the story and their flustered narration is very dull and gets very tedious very quickly.
All in all, however, it is an enjoyable film that is friendly for all of the family, so you should buy a copy for your kids - it will keep them entertained.
Stars: Tate Donovan, Susan Egan, James Woods, Danny DeVito, Rip Torn, Frank Welker, Bobcat Goldthwait, Matt Frewer, Amanda Plummer, Carole Shelley, Paddi Edwards, Hal Holbrook, Barbara Barrie, Lillias Thomas, Vaneese Y. Thomas, Cheryl Freeman, LaChanze, Roz Ryan, Samantha Eggar, Paul Shaffer, Keith David, Jim Cummings, Wayne Knight, Charlton Heston.
Oscar nomination: Best Original Song (Go the Distance - Alan Menken, David Zippel).