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Ron Clements, John Musker
Tate Donovan, Josh Keaton, Danny DeVito, James Woods, Susan Egan, Bob Goldthwait, Matt Frewer, Rip Torn, Charlton Heston
Writing Credits:
Ron Clements, Barry Johnson (story), Don McEnery, Irene Mecchi, John Musker, Bob Shaw

A Comedy of Epic Proportions.

An outrageous odyssey of fun, fantasy, and adventure unfolds in the hilarious hit film Hercules - Disney's 35th animated triumph "brimming with comic surprise!" Taken from the gods as a newborn and adopted on Earth, Hercules becomes an awkward teenage pillar of strength. Trying to fit in, he discovers Zeus is his dad and his home is on Mount Olympus - if he can move from "zero" to true hero! Hercules teams with babyhood pal Pegasus, the flying stallion, and Phil - a feisty personal trainer - for the mission. But it's no walk on the Acropolis. He must match wits with Grecian beauty Meg and a comical hothead named Hades, who's having a devil of a time with his hostile takeover of the universe. Hades is armed with morphing morons Pain and Panic for help, and only Hercules stands in his way!

Box Office:
$70 million.
Opening Weekend
$21.454 million on 2872 screens.
Domestic Gross
$99.046 million.

Rated G


Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 8/12/2014

• “The Making of Hercules” Featurette
• Music Video
• Sing-Along
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Hercules [Blu-Ray] (1997)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 14, 2014)

After a couple of commercial disappointments, Disney banked on a return to form with 1997's Hercules. None of darkness or serious drama found in 1995’s Pocahontas or 1996’s Hunchback of Notre Dame would appear here.

Instead, Hercules would openly attempt to recapture the fun, hyperactive spirit of 1992’s Aladdin by keeping things light and funny. A huge ad campaign and tie-ins at many spots such as McDonald's made sure the Hercules name would be right up front through the summer of 1997 and would guarantee huge revenues.

Alas, it was not to be. Hercules failed to strike a chord with the summer's audiences, and it ended up a near-flop. It pulled in almost $100 million, which would have been great for other studios at the time but became an enormous disappointment for Disney's summer blockbuster.

When I first saw Hercules during its theatrical run, I fully agreed with all the critics who panned it and declared it a triumph of style over substance. It was hard to take such an eagerly commercial effort so soon after the satisfying darkness of Hunchback, and it seemed like such a forced attempt to counteract the slump. The movie didn't feel like it existed for any reason other than to plop young butts in the seats and sell some action figures.

Since then, I've changed my tune. No, I don't think Hercules compares to the best Disney offerings, but I now find it to be a much more satisfying and enjoyable film than I did in 1997. It doesn't take any of the ancient legends on which it's based seriously, and its wild sense of humor keeps me entertained and sporadically amused. Once you adjust to the hyperactive pacing, you can find it witty and clever. This is certainly a movie that packs in more little gags than most, so it stands up nicely to additional screenings.

Although it ostensibly comes based on Greek mythology, most of the story really rips off the first two Superman movies. From Herc's farmer parents to his departure to discover his past to the way he sacrifices his power or the manner in which he refuses to accept the death of his honey, it's all straight out of those movies. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though the parallels are too close for my liking; a bit more originality would have worked better.

One other aspect of the movie that causes some problems is its melding of cel-based and computer animation. Due to the limitations of 1997 technology, I find that a combination of traditional animation and CGI looks bizarre and disconnected. I had that problem with the many computer-animated portions of The Prince of Egypt because they disrupted whatever spell the film had established. The CGI looked incongruous and, though it was of decent quality, the dissimilar nature of the images distracted from the story.

The CGI in Hercules doesn't seem quite as problematic, but I still don't care for it. We find computer animation in sources like the multi-headed hydra or aspects of the environment in Olympus. For example, when baby Herc tosses a thunderbolt that busts part of a building, CGI renderings show it as it regenerates.

All of this seems self-consciously showy to me. It falls into the category of doing something because they could instead of because they should. Granted, the many heads of the hydra would have been difficult to animate through traditional methods, but it could have been done, and I think the result would have been more satisfying.

In addition to the increased use of CGI, Hercules breaks from tradition in a few other ways. For one, it offers one of Disney's most "pop" soundtracks to that point. The songs in Hercules tend toward a combination of gospel and R&B, with some Phil Spector tossed in as well. I can't say I'm wild about the tunes, but they work well for the tenor of the story, and the novelty of them - in this format, at least - makes them more refreshing.

I also was rather fond of Susan Egan's performance as atypical romantic interest Megara. Unlike the usual dreamy-eyed Disney heroines, she's a rather bitter, cynical hard-edged babe, and although this aspect of the character seems - like much of the movie - forced at first, this personality grows on you upon repeated viewings. Hey, it's nice to see a little nasty in a gal every once in a while!

I've now seen Hercules six times, and while it'll never be at the top of my personal hit parade, I must admit that I like it more and more every time I see it. It's a flawed film but it's a fun one, and that should count for something.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio A-/ Bonus D+

Hercules appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. No issues developed during this terrific presentation.

Sharpness appeared immaculate at all times. I never witnessed any hints of softness or haziness as the movie always seemed wonderfully crisp and detailed. No jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and print flaws were absent as well; the film seemed clean and fresh.

Hercules featured a wild and vibrant spectrum of colors, and the disc reproduced them wonderfully well. Not many films offer this much variation in hues, but you’ll see a wide array of purples, reds, blues, greens, yellows, and pretty much everything else here. The colors always were solid and lacked any signs of noise, bleeding or other concerns.

Black levels were deep and rich while shadow detail seemed appropriately dark but never excessively heavy. Ultimately, the disc presented a satisfying picture that fit in well with Disney’s other works.

I had no complaints about the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix of Hercules, as it brought us an active mix that presented wide and deep soundstage. The front imagery appeared broad and well-defined, and the rears also kicked in quite a lot of reinforcement. The entire package contributed to an engrossing soundtrack that added to the strength of the film.

The quality of the audio seemed solid. Dialogue appeared clear and natural, with no problems in regard to intelligibility. Although they occasionally lacked a little bass, the score and the songs seemed smooth and vibrant, while the effects made up for the missing low-end in the music. They packed some serious punch as they offered deep and strong impact to the mix. All in all, this became a fine auditory presentation.

How does this Blu-ray compare with the original DVD from 1999? Audio felt a bit smoother and more robust, but visuals offered the most obvious improvements. The non-anamorphic DVD couldn’t vaguely compete with a high-def presentation, so the Blu-ray looked richer, tighter and more precise. This was a tremendous upgrade.

Only a smattering of minor extras accompany the film. Of most interest is an unusually good nine-minute, 29-second featurette about the film. Not surprisingly, this piece remains of a promotional bent, but it features a fair amount of interesting information for its short running time.

“Making” includes comments from directors/producers/writers John Musker and Ron Clements, producer Alice Dewey, composer Alan Menken, supervising animators Nik Ranieri, Andreas Deja, Brian Ferguson, Ellen Woodbury and James Lopez, design consultant Gerald Scarfe, CGI supervisor Roger Gould, and actors Joshua Keaton, Tate Donovan, Susan Egan, Lillias White and James Woods. We get a quick overview of how the film was made, including the various processes and some looks at the voice actors at work. It's not much, but it's reasonably entertaining.

In addition, we get a music video from Ricky Martin for "No Importa La Distancia". If you don't remember hearing that song during the film, that's because it wasn't there; it's a Spanish version of "Go the Distance", the movie's theme song. It's a turgid tune and a completely dull video.

We also find a Sing-Along for “Zero to Hero”. This just takes the movie scene and adds lyrics. Since we can watch the film with subtitles, it serves little obvious purpose.

The disc opens with ads for Planes: Fire & Rescue, Sleeping Beauty, and Legend of the Neverbeast. Sneak Peeks throws in promos for Disney Parks and The Lion King stage musical. No trailer for Hercules appears here.

A second disc offers a DVD copy of Hercules. This includes the featurette and the music video but not the sing-along.

Hercules seems destined to end up as one of Disney’s semi-forgotten flicks. It’s definitely a lesser effort, but it boasts a reasonable amount of fun and entertainment. The Blu-ray delivers excellent picture and audio but lacks substantial supplements. The absence of compelling bonus materials disappoints, but the Blu-ray presents the film itself exceedingly well.

To rate this film, visit the original review of HERCULES

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