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Opinionated Guide to Disney's Hercules
Korval

[table of contents]
Training
We continue with Herc finding an island. Apparently Pegasus knows exactly where to go; isn't that convenient. There are a lot of destroyed statues around. Herc hears laughter and finds a bunch of Nymphs around a pool. He hears goat noises and sees the ass of a goat, so naturally he picks it up to reveal... a saytr. After getting out of Herc's grasp, we get some Komedy! as he chases after the Nymphs, only for them to turn into plants. And hit him.

Apparently, this saytr is Philoctetes, who is voiced by Danny Devito. Ahh, the great hero teacher and comic relief sidekick, all in one package. How efficient of you. Oh, and this is certainly a film that needs more comic relief; it'd be too dark if Philoctetes was a serious character. Naturally, we will call him Phil, because then we can better pretend that this isn't Greek Mythology.

Herc asks Phil to teach him to be a hero, but apparently Phil is retired. Which he states with a failed Two Words routine that most assuredly won't become a tiresome running gag throughout this movie. Herc asks if Phil has had a dream, and all of a suddenly, I'm getting Tangled flashbacks as this somehow makes Phil stop and explain things.

Phil takes him inside his house to show off various statues and mementos. Apparently, this film is saying that he trained most of the known mortal heroes of Greek Mythology, from Odysseus to Perseus. Sure, none of these people lived at the same time as each other, but why not have them all trained by this odious comic relief? It's a kid's movie; it's not like they have to try or anything. After all, Phil just named dropped Cleopatra; she lived in the times of Greek Mythology, right?

Anyway Phil says that none of them could "go the distance."

Bitch, you did not!

I am now officially exercising my previously reserved right to hold forth at length about this movie not sticking to Greek Myth canon.

Having Phil say this shits on EVERY HERO IN ALL OF GREEK MYTHOLOGY! Achilles? All that being badass and embodying the spirit of fighting Greeks? Yeah, fuck him; he didn't measure up to Phil's standards. Perseus? Obviously killing Medusa and being so badass that the Gods enshrined his likeness into the stars just wasn't enough for Phil.

But the biggest crime is Odysseus, my personal favorite mortal in all of Greek Mythology. Let's see, he's one of the smartest mortal men in all of the Mythos. He married one of the cleverest women in the Mythos. He was partially responsible for winning the Trojan war. He then spent the next 10 years desperately trying to get home while the gods and whatnot threw obstacle after obstacle in his path. And when he got past all that, he found a bunch of assholes in his house, abusing his hospitality, so he and his grown son got together and fucking murdered all of them. The man was so badass that his dog, an animal he only knew for a little while before he left for war, managed to live for twenty years because he refused to die outside of the man's presence!

Oh, and who was Odysseus's biggest fan? Athena, the Goddess of War and Wisdom. But no, that's not good enough for Philoctetes. Obviously he knows better than Athena.

You want to make the In Name Only version of Greek Mythology? Fine. But don't you fucking dare to shit on Odysseus just to make Hercules seem better by comparison!

Back to the film, such that it is. Phil admits that his dream was to train a hero so great that he'd get a constellation. But Perseus got- oh, right, They Just Didn't Care. Moving on, Herc claims that he's different from them, that he can "go the distance." Then, Herc shows off his super-strength.

Herc admits that his father is Zeus, which Phil doesn't buy. Why not, Perseus was- oh right, They Just Didn't Care. Moving on, Phil starts to sing. Was it really necessary for us to hear Danny Devito sing in this film? The song starts off with Phil being against it, but one lightning strike from Zeus is sufficient to change his mind. Enter: The Training Montage.

The montage is pretty standard, as training montages go. But unlike the montage in Mulan, this one features a song sung by a guy who can't sing. Oh good. Also, unlike Mulan, it doesn't really do any character development. Herc's personality and character isn't shown or explored; all that changes is his build. It doesn't really show his determination or anything really. He starts out the montage as a beanpole and ended it with massive muscles. It isn't a character moment; it's a power-up.

Oh, and it has pointless pop-culture references. They even steal a bit from the Karate Kid. Why, I don't know.

What's funny is that this montage would seem to be a much more sensible place to talk about "going the distance," since it at least involves Herc doing something more than just walking. But no, we get Danny Devito failing at singing.

So, after training Herc into a muscular "hero," they decide to head to Thebes. As they're flying to get there, they hear a scream from the ground and investigate. They land to find a woman being accosted by a centaur that is strangely blue.

And just to show that Herc hasn't stopped that whole "carelessness" thing, he charges in specifically against Phil's advice. He orders the centaur to let her go, but oddly enough, she tells him that she doesn't need help. She says that she's "in distress," but she can deal with it.

And in one of the most WTF moments in the whole movie, Herc says that she may be "too close to the situation," acting like a police officer. Are... are they actually referencing cops who are dealing with battered women? As a joke? Is that what these writers are doing? Because that's what it looks like.

Anyway, after... that, the Centaur knocks him away. Herc tries to find his sword, but pulls out a fish. Because that's what the first real action moment of this film needs: Komedy! After getting slapped around a bit more, Phil tells Herc to "use his head." Not only do they do the thing so obvious that I'm not even linking to the trope description, it takes way too long for it to happen to qualify as an actual joke.

So, we get some more slapstick and pop-culture thrown in as Herc deals with the Centaur, while Phil tries to put the moves on the "damsel." She's not biting though.

After Herc spends way too long and does way too much Loony-Toons-inspired horseshit to the Centaur, it goes down. And drowns, but it's off-camera, so it doesn't count as a grisly murder. Phil tries to offer Herc some advice, but he ignores him in favor of the girl, who's name is Megara. Naturally, this is instantly shorted to Meg, because then we can better pretend that this isn't Greek Mythology.

This conversation is very odd. Her animation and line delivery is seductive and hyper-sexualized. But her delivery is so over-the-top alluring that it sounds like she's parodying seductiveness for sarcastic effect. And the actual words she uses are dismissive and condescending. Are they saying that she's attracted to Herc but doesn't want to admit it? Is she being passive-aggressive towards him? Can she simply not stand him and is just toying with him? Is that just how she normally talks? Or are the writers simply incapable of communication through the medium of film?

Oh, and she calls Pegasus a "Pinto." Swell.

Phil and Pegasus don't like her. Phil, because she's a distraction. And Pegasus because... did he have an actual reason? I'm guessing simple jealousy, but that's a strange thing for a horse to be jealous over.

So they fly off to find the plot. Meanwhile, Megara goes off into a dark part of the forest where she meets a rabbit and a chipmunk. She recognizes them as Pain and Panic, which means that Hades shows up. He's kind enough to exposite that she was there to get the Centaur on Hades's side, but that didn't seem to work out. Due to her failure, he is tacking on 2 more years to her "sentence." Oh, I don't like where that is going.

Meg says that it was all Hercules's fault, dropping his name. Well, after some pointless padding disguised as Komedy!, Hades drags Pain and Panic to him and ask for an explanation for why Herc is alive when they reported him dead. Wait a minute. Hades is the lord of the dead; shouldn't he have been the first person to know when Herc died? Why wouldn't he confirm the kill by finding Herc's soul or whatever? It's not like these two nimrods are particularly skilled or capable or something.

Anyway, Hades's anger burns down the forest. Because you know, Tartarus and Hades were so well known for their flames. Rather than ridding the movie of these two bumbling inepts, he simply draws them and Meg together while he ominously says that they're going to fix the problem this time.

17th Nov '11 8:29:25 PM flag for mods
comments
Your little rant on Odysseus being put down in favor for Hercules to be The Hero was awesome.
Psyga315 17th Nov 11
It's Looney Tunes, not Looney Toons.
Wackd 18th Nov 11
Hell, that whole thing about Hades not knowing Hercules was dead was so dumb they Retconned it in the Animated Series.
Emperordaein 19th Nov 11
Saying that none of them could 'go the distance' is wrong, but to be fair... the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Romans did consider Hercules better than the rest. That's why he was the only one of them to become an Olympian after his mortal life ended. Achilles was the best warrior at Troy and fought their for 10 years with 1000 . Hercules conquered Troy a generation or two before that with 6 ships in less than a year. Jason and Odysseus sailed all over the eastern Meditteranean between Itally and the Black Sea. Hercules sailed as far west as the Atlantic past Spain, as far east as India and as far south as Ethiopia. Perseus killed Medusa, Atlanta killed the Calydonian Boar, Theseus killed the Minotaur and Bellerophon killed the Chimeral. Hercules killed the Nemean Lion, the Hydra, the Erymanthean Boar, Giants, the Cretan Bull etc..
ClassyMyths 20th Nov 13
^*100 ships.
ClassyMyths 20th Nov 13
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