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Movie Review

Hercules

Reviewed by: Beverly Nault
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
7 to Adult
Genre:
Animation
Length:
93 min.
G

Narrated by: Tate Donovan, Joshua Keaton, James Woods, Danny DeVito, Susan Egan, Charlton Heston, and lots more… Released by: Walt Disney Pictures

This is one of the most colorful, pretty, witty animation spectacles that Disney has produced. It is fun to watch—its characters are likable and appealing. (We saw it in Disney’s New Amsterdam theatre in New York, which was worth a trip just to see the beautiful restoration the theatre has undergone.)

Hercules first appears as a babe-in-arms, cute and cuddly, the center of all attention on Olympus. But soon, the evil “Hades” gets wind of his birth and plots to have the infant killed. However, unbeknownst to Hades, the plan to have Hercules killed only serves to render him mortal, while leaving him with superhuman strength. Hercules grows up with his Earthling foster parents, an outcast who can’t quite control his own might or fit in with the “Earthlings.” With the help of a “hero-trainer,” (voice talent of Danny DeVito), Hercules works on his control, bravery, and plans to become a hero on Earth. Soon he is faced with danger, trickery and Hades’ endeavors to thwart Hercules’ efforts to earn his way back into immortality to live on Olympus as a god.

One part that I found slightly offensive from a Christian perspective was the Muses’ song, “The Gospel Truth,” which was of course, far from it. Patterned after a gospel singing group, the Muses’ role was to nararate the story’s events. Another weakness is that Hercules' powers come from within, not his faith in God. On the positive side, virtues worth remembering are that hard work and determination are necessary to overcome evil and help those who are in trouble. Also, there is no profanity.

Though ugly, Hades was not too threatening. However, there are several scenes with a monster/dragon that could be quite frightening to pre-schoolers and young grade-schoolers. The most frightening scenes will be the ones of hell, which show helpless faces swirling in an eternal pool of despair. According to the plot, after death you are in Hades' control, unless you happen to be lucky enough to have Hercules save you in his own effort to gain entry into Olympus/Heaven.

The message of the movie is mixed, but should provide earnest Christian parents with a few great “teachable moments.” Point out what a great Redeemer we have in Christ. Point out that He selflessly paid the price for our entry into Heaven (shed his pure, sinless blood to cover our sin), and remind them of the hopeless eternity of those who die without His salvation. (Hercules is sadly limited in the salvation department.)

Year of Release—1997

Viewer Comments
We took several children on an outing to this movie. I absolutely cannot stress enough that this is not a movie for any child under the age of 7 or 8. The scenes of the pools of hell is absolutely frightening, the dragon was frightening (yes, the animation was good, too good) I was very upset with my bad judgment in taking young children to see this movie. Yes, it’s just a cartoon, but if very young, many of the scenes can be not only frightning but confusing. Herc saves his girlfriend from Hell after her death. Yes, it leaves room to discuss with your children after but if very young, I’m not sure they would not still be confused. Better yet… skip it all together. There is only one God. Why show them otherwise—and then say forget all that? Some of these scenes would be hard to forget.
—Linda Driscoll, age 41
Personally, I thought that Hercules was a good film even though it didn’t follow the actual myth closely. It IS just fiction, and I don’t think Disney was trying to endorse polytheism, people at one time did actually believe in these gods, that would be an interesting topic for discussion—why ancients worshipped multiple gods. Give your kids a little perspective here. Compare and contrast Christianity to other religions. If you can come up with valid arguments to support the faith, then when your kids get older they can defend it coherently, and not resort to mindless yelling and annoying capital letters.
—Denise, age 19
I have to throw my two cents in here. First of all,unless I’m mistaken, this is a forum for people to discuss what they thought of MOVIES THEY SAW, not what they think of the company that produces the movie they’ve vowed never to see. Second of all, as far as concern about kids whose parents may not tell them that Greek gods aren’t real, I think that we can pretty much rely on our nation’s Judeo-Christian roots and popular culture to do that. I hate to sound like a cynic, but I just don’t know that many people who believed in mermaids after seeing the Little Mermaid. Ditto for Hercules. I thought it was an entertaining film and would see it again. After all, it is just a movie.
—Melissa, age 22
My last comment was on the boycott, not the movie. Here’s my comment on the movie: IT WAS WACK!!! (“wack” is slang for bad-awful-terrible) I have no interest in seeing Hercules again. Seems like with every new animated film, Disney just slips lower and lower. I especially had a problem with the scenes showing Hades underworld. My 7 year old daughter was freaking out and asking 20 questions about what that meant. Disney, please. If you’re gonna be the so-called “leader in family entertainment” then stop giving our kids these twisted views of death that they’re too young to understand and start making movies about the joy of life… why do you think The Lion King was (so well accepted).
—Chris Utley, age 24
My 8 year old son rated the movie a 2 out of 10. He found much of it in conflict with Christian beliefs. There is nothing about it worth recommending.
—Matt, age 45
After the pretty much shocking “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” my wife and I were pleasantly surprised at “Hercules.” (Those who were appalled at Meg must not have seen the former’s Esmerelda!) There was a very basic, story-telling version of good-vs-evil, and a great (albeit “Disneyfied”) moral about the value of others over fame. We took plenty of time to make sure our children understood that this was fiction from the first frame of the film. They had a good time with it, and so did we. As dismayed as we are with many of Disney’s products and corporate actions, this was a worthwhile diversion for us.
—Scott Green, age 36
As controversial as Disney is, they definitely did Christian families a favor by changing the story of Hercules. The original myth clearly refers to Hercules' “death and ressurection” after he is murdered by Hera. Also, before his death Hercules is “involved” with a young man when he joins the Argonauts and is overcome with grief when the little freak is killed. These blasphemous abominations ridicule true divinity. They have no place in any film and shouldn’t even be allowed in books. Disney may be doing Satan’s work but at least they still show some restraint.
—Tony, age 31
I don’t understand why everyone is so upset. Just because we believe in Jesus doesn’t preclude us from watching others who do not. We should not feel threatened by the protrayal of the Greek gods. Our beliefs do not depend on the conforming of others. All in all, I thought it was an entertaining movie. I was not offended and enjoyed it a great deal, except for the fact that it does not present a truthful representation of the Hercules myth. Otherwise, great flick!
—Julia, age 25
I thought the movie was fairly innocuous, except that it will raise questions in the minds of small children about whether there are really “gods” as depicted in the movie. Parents have to be prepared to answer those questions. Another criticism I have is that the movie makes light of religion in general. As for the Disney boycott, here’s my suggestion: instead of simply boycotting Disney, choose a particular Disney item you would have bought, and write a letter to Disney telling them why you aren’t buying it.
—Hunter, age 38
After giving the issue of giong to watch the movie, “Hercules” some serious thought, half way against my better judgment, I gave it a try. I was very disapointed.The story had virtually no historical value left in it. The female character was way too provocative in dress and actions. Several scenes in the movie were objectionable and would cause confusion among children who are being brought up with Christain values. My final opinion, “Hercules” will in all liklihood not be included in my video collection.
—Jamie Allison, age 23
I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Meg. I screen sexual imagery more aggressively than violence. (I fear AIDS more than my children becoming murderers.) Accordingly, I was a little surprised that Meg was as sexy and vampy as she was. She was very seductive and aggressive sexually. The animation of her was very provocative. The story made “feelings” of love paramount over judgment and discernment. We think this story provides a good example to contrast our biblical world view with a contrasting world view.
Ken, age 45
I thought that Disney’s version of “Hercules” was one of the company’s better animated efforts of late (B and B being THE best)—nevermind the fact that not much of the real Herc story was retained. Though I do find some fault with the phraseology used in “Gospel Truth” I largely ignored it in view of modern English usage of the phrase, meaning “honest-to-gosh truth,” rather than a reference to salvation. The use of mythilogical “gods” didn’t offend me either since they were nothing more than super powerful humans. The one thing that DID bother me is how easily Herc raised Meg from the dead. You wouldn’t want children pondering to long over that I think. Otherwise: A fun and funny movie.
—Seth T. Hahne, age 24
Thought of some great study questions for you and your family after (or before) you see the movie. 1. Who was Hercules’s real mom? 2. What is the definition of a Greek Hero? (the answer to #1 plays into this.) 3. Why was Hercules really mortal? (Fits into answer to #1 and #2) 4. How does the character of Zeus compare to the Almighty God? 5. How many times did Zeus commit adultery? (Fits into answers to #1 and #2) 6. What would you expect the character of people who worshiped a god like Zeus to be like? 7. How does Hercules earning god-hood compare to Jesus who was God and willingly gave His life and rose again to give us ALL eternal life? (Not just risk his life to save ONE individual who was going to die again anyway.) 8. Was there any possibility, according to Greek god worship, for anyone making it to Mount Olympus besides the gods? Compare this to the salvation plan. Have fun researching the answers. They will surprise you!
—Melissa, age 33
Throughout the whole movie, I just drew parallels and differences between the Greek mythology and Christianity. I noticed that Zeus used his son, “Hercules” to save the world. God the Father, sent His Son to save the world. Aside from this positive comparison, didn’t anyone notice how helpless Zeus was against the bad guys. I am glad I serve an omnipotent and omniscient God who is not helpless against the forces of darkness, but at His name, EVERY knee WILL bow and confess that He is Lord.”-Phil 2:10-11 …I agree with the stand against Disney, but let’s convert them, not condemn them.
—Milo, age 22
What about the representations of hell and hell’s minions to millions of young viewers? Oh satan (Hades) is a scary and bad fellow, but kind of misunderstood and funny at times. And his head henchmen are bumbling, cutesty little creatures that run all over the place cracking jokes. (This is not the truth, and it makes my blood run cold.) I will stay as far away from this Disney movie as possible.
—Dedra Russell, age 28
Comments from non-viewers
Neutral—I do not want to see this movie, because it looks unappealing to me and it is apparently senseless. However, a couple of comments called Disney “the work of the devil”. I understand Disney has done some immoral things and put them in the movies, but honestly, we need to PRAY for salvation for people who are involved with Disney, Disney fans, etc. The word “devil” comes from accuser and I see some people judging each other’s salvation over watching a movie. Rejecting Christ seals your eternity in hell, not watching a movie. Also, as a kid, I always listened to the magic-less morals from the movies (don’t lie, listen to your parents, don’t run from problems, etc.), rather than decide to consult with occultism. Also, I hear the girl regrets consulting a witch and rebelling. Under the logic of some of the people here, I am surprised there haven’t bonfires burning Bibles since David’s adultery-murder sin is just one of many sins committed by Biblical heroes recorded; you all know he repented right?
—Peter, age 22 (USA)