Warning: Contains spoilers***
In Ancient Greece, the muses start with an opening song about the world first formed, the monstrous titans, and how Zeus trapped them. Then it goes to Mount Olympus, where Zeus, Hera, and the other gods are adoring the infant, Hercules.
Hades, the god of the underworld, has a plan to harm Hercules. His assistants, Pain and Panic, kidnap Baby Hercules from Mount Olympus and feed him a potion that makes him mortal.
They abduct him and feed him the potion – but stop when a couple finds him. There is one remaining drop, so Hercules still has his strength.
However, since he has become mortal, he cannot return to Mount Olympus. The human couple takes Hercules and raises him.
Years have gone by and Hercules is now a young man going with his adoptive father to Athens. He accidentally destroys the architecture with his involuntary strength. Everyone there deems him too dangerous and demands to his adoptive father to keep him away from the public eye.
Hercules feels that something about him is unusual and that he doesn’t belong where he currently is. He yearns for a place where he will be accepted and welcome, no matter how far away, as revealed in the song, “Go the Distance.”
His adoptive parents reveal to him that they found him, thus leaving him curious to where he could’ve come from. The mother gives him the metal he wore when they found him, which has the symbol of the gods. He then journeys to the temple of Zeus.
In order to return to Mount Olympus as a god, Hercules has to prove himself a true hero. He gets help from the cranky faun, Phil, who has almost refused to aid him due to his failures with training past heroes.
After several months of training to become a hero, Hercules also falls in love with a young woman named Megara (Meg). He visits a city and tells people that he’s a true hero, which they consider nonsense.
But a hydra monster comes, so he fights it by chopping its head, which leads to more heads growing. Eventually he defeats it, and becomes a big celebrity.
Unfortunately, the Zeus statue doesn’t consider that enough. In fact, he states that being famous is not the same as being a true hero. Hercules feels the need to surrender.
Yet, he does spend time with Meg, and has romantic moments with her… but she also works for Hades, but against her will. Stakes rise and Hercules has to make tough decisions.
I found Hercules’s struggles to make him very believable and relatable. Trying to fit in, or have an unexplained blessing in disguise, is something many have to live with.
Another flaw that a lot of people can relate to that Hercules constantly faces is being misunderstood. I, myself, have felt that I belonged elsewhere at times when I was stressed out over certain siutations.
The humor was not slapstick, but used appropriately, such as when Pain and Panic had those sandals with Hercules on them. Hades got mad and Pain and Panic defended themselves with the excuse of the Hercules being a different entity than the one they knew.
I also admired the 90’s references, such as Air Hercs (like Air-Jordans), Grecian Express, and more. I was born in 1993, so I grew up mostly in the 2000s, but I still got the references when I viewed this film as an adult.
The plot points were also done well, especially the deal Hercules made with Hades. It went back and forth. Hercules lost his strength, gained it back, and acknowledged the deal again.
I even appreciated how Hercules gave up his return to Mount Olympus at the end to rejoin Meg. I found it to be sweet and selfless.
This is one of those movies where the main character does not achieve his or her original goal. Rather, he or she learns that the goal was actually something else all along.
Meg mattered a lot to Hercules to the point where after she died, rather than accepting her passing, he dove into the underworld’s river to retrieve her soul. After that, the three eyeless witches tried to cut the rope to end his life—except that light shone around it, making it completely unbreakable. That is what made Hercules a true hero.
The definition of it, according to Zeus, is not finding danger to defeat, but going out of your way to save someone you love.
I deeply enjoyed Hercules, especially the song, “Go the Distance.” It is so beautiful, heartwarming, and emotional – it makes me want a tear of joy to spill out of my eye.
Despite some occasional intense scenes, I think this would make a good watch for kids. Anyone of any age can see it.
I give the film 5 out of 5 stars.