BY THOMAS WOOD
In the summer of 1997, at the peak of their 2D animation focus, Disney released Hercules. Heavily pulling ideas from Greek mythology, Hercules was a step in a new direction for Disney. They’d long since referenced and parodied fairy tales and stories of old, drawing inspiration or even storylines for many of their movies, but they’d never before made a movie about ancient mythology. Now, in 2022, Hercules is being honored with one of the highest privileges awarded to Disney films: a live-action remake. Did the 1997 film deserve to be remade in the modern day, or should it have stayed in the 90s?
Our movie stars the titular Hercules, the son of Zeus who’s fallen from Olympus. Being only a baby during the prologue, Hercules cannot find his way home. Hades, wanting to overthrow all of Olympus and take the lead role from Zeus, uses the prophecy sight of his subjects to show how he can achieve this goal. Mainly, the prophecy shows only Hercules ruining his plans. Hades sends two of his subjects, Pain and Panic, to feed baby Hercules a power-stripping juice. However, the two are interrupted right before Hercules finishes the bottle. Hercules is stripped of his godly glow and immortality, but he retains his inhuman strength and courage. Now grown and finding his place in the world, Hercules finds out that he’s the son of Zeus, and that he must prove himself a hero to regain god status. It’s up to Hercules to thwart Hades and bring peace back to Olympus.
To begin, Hercules absolutely reeks of personality. The unique art style and quirky animations surely cemented this movie in the minds of audiences forever. The way certain scenes are colored adds to the overall vibe perfectly. The godly glow that the citizens of Olympus have greatly contrasts the normal skin brightness found on humans, which is enough for the audience to immediately differentiate the two. Scene designers even took research trips to Greece and Turkey in order to get backdrops and buildings to look just right. The art style in this movie is absolutely impeccable and is a surefire reason for its relevance even in the current day.
Of course, no Disney movie can exist without the musical flair they’re so known for, and the songs in Hercules are incredible. The movie opens with parodied versions of the Greek Muses singing a song of exposition for the story. This song immediately introduces the audience to the tone of the movie and perfectly encapsulates the comedy and storytelling that follows. Another song that stands out is Go the Distance, which shows Hercules’ dedication to returning to godhood and making his father proud. Even though Hercules is currently weak, he’s willing to grow strong– physically and mentally– in order to please his father and save Olympus. It’s easy to see why these songs have stayed popular, and can only hope they’ll be given a new coat of paint in the upcoming live-action remake.
The development Hercules experiences as a character is also extremely well written. He begins as just a kid with no direction, as he’d been outcasted for his uncharacteristic strength. However, when he learns his true heritage, he commits his full mind and body to growing stronger and being a hero. Even when he’s at his lowest, he continues fighting and makes sure to get the job done. Over the course of the movie, however, you can see how his journey goes from one of self-fulfillment to one of selflessness. He learns to protect others and ensure their safety, instead of simply rushing into things blindly. Hercules is an incredibly well-written character who makes the audience feel for him at his lowest and root for him at his highest.
Overall, Hercules is a great film from Disney which absolutely deserves its proposed live-action remake. Its personality and gusto set it apart from many animated films released around the same time, so it deserves the praise it so often receives. I’m glad this movie had such a presence in my childhood, and I’m excited to see where they take the story in the live-action version.
Categories: Entertainment, Opinion
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