Hercules (1997)

Disney's 35th animated feature-- a retooling of the Olympian legend
crossed with, well, the Superman story-- is surprisingly soft at 
the center.  Great wit, great art, and a great villain (James Woods  
as Hades, Lord of the Underworld and local lounge act) can't quite 
stifle the yawns induced by a bland hero, his colorfully monotonous 
sidekick (Danny DeVito as the satyrical trainer Phil), and a large-
ly unremarkable soundtrack.  (None of the Alan Menken/David Zippel 
tunes are particularly noteworthy.  Some lack lyrical snap.  Others 
need more memorable melodies.  Boring ballads we expect, but boring 
production numbers, too?) 

So, HERCULES is a bit of a long sit, but you won't stay bored.  The 
highlights include a nifty round of animated action (Herc battling  
a CGI hydra), a steady stream of anachronisms ("somebody call IX-I-
I") and pop references ("let's get ready to rumble!") a la ALADDIN, 
and several long-overdue jabs at the Mouse's marketing and merchan-
dising departments.  While not as rock-solid as HUNCHBACK, it's a 
still a new world of improvement over POCOHONTAS.  Directed by Ron 
Clements and John Musker, with voice credits including Tate Dono-
van, Susan Egan, Bob Goldthwait, Matt Frewer, Samantha Eggar, Paul 
Shaffer, and, as Lighting Bolt Zeus, Rip Torn, who's having a very 
good summer, also appearing in TRIAL AND ERROR and MEN IN BLACK.  
(Rated "G"/92 min.)

Grade: B+

Copyright 1997 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in Movie Hell: June 23, 1997

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