Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Know the myth of Heracles? Well, discard that in your mind for a moment, it has little to do with the Disney film Hercules. There's good reason for this. You really can't discuss Zeus with bringing up the messy matter of rape - Zeus loved him some rape - and in the original legend Zeus went around as a woman's husband and did some raping. Then Hera was irate at this and decided to punish Heracles a lot.

Now, in the Disney version, that doesn't happen. Instead, Hera and Hercules are in a rape-free monogamous relationship, and Hercules is their beloved son. Then he's stolen away, made mortal with magic juice, and has to be trained by Danny DeVito. Then he finds a girl named Meg, and they live happily ever after, until her murders their children in a fit of rage.

Disney didn't show that last bit either.

The question here is obvious, why did Disney adapt Hercules? It's a story filled with violence, rape and murder. As such, it's slightly less than family friendly. Take all that away, and you've basically got Bam-Bam Rubble smashing his way through a formula. That's fine, since it's Disney, but they could have really adapted anything if they wanted to have a formula. In spite of the names, it doesn't really involve the real legend.

That would be fine, if it was good. Mulan had some serious plot alterations from the poem on which it was based, but they served a dramatic purpose. Here, it's all bad jokes and light plotting. The story is padded - heavily - by the chorus explaining what's going on, but it doesn't really move the action. The story itself is by the book, and the overall film is just low-tier Disney. When the studio was on, they could make masterpieces, but when they were off, they were just dull.

There are some very weird references scattered throughout which make me wonder just what was going on. Scar from the Lion King becomes a lion skin, the names frequently reference the real story, and small details show that someone knew what they were doing. Then the illusion is ruined by the fact that you know in the back of your mind that they're getting even the basic details wrong, and they're not replacing those details with better ones.

It's also the only Disney film with a nipple, but that's easy to miss.

If I was 8, maybe I would like it, but people who are 8 typically have very low standards. It's not awful, per se, but it's simply not as good as Disney is capable of making. Knowing what they can do - and Mulan is an example of this - it's difficult to watch something in which they aren't at their full potential.

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