“Long ago, in the faraway land of ancient Greece, there was a golden age of powerful gods and extraordinary heroes. And the greatest and strongest of all these heroes was the mighty Hercules. But what is the measure of a true hero?” (Hercules 1997). That is where our story begins. For Hercules (1997), Disney submerged itself into the lush well of ancient mythology. The son of Greek gods, Zeus (Rip Torn) and Hera (Samantha Eggar), Hercules (Josh Keaton) is taken as an infant by Zeus’s wicked brother Hades (James Wood) and his two sidekicks Pain (Bobcat Goldthwait) and Panic (Matt Frewer). With the help of a potion that Hades created, Hercules now has the extraordinary strength of a god, but is now trapped inside a human’s body, and before he can properly use his power he goes through a typical awkward adolescent phase.
For Hercules to become a god and return to his home on Mount Olympus, he must first prove himself a true hero on Earth. With the help of Philotes (Danny DeVito), who is also known as “Phil”, the mature Hercules (Tate Donovan) acquires the skills to appropriately use his strength to his benefit and becomes widely well-know and a gallant defender of all those around him, triumphally defeating a diversity of monsters and beast. However; Hades, after failing to provide a worthy opponent against Hercules, decides to send in his undisclosed weapon, Megara (Susan Egan), a seductively striking woman who happens to be under Hades’ command, who ends up winning Hercules’ heart and rendering him vulnerable to the evils of the underworld. Hercules argues that it is always nice to have someone to restore faith in yourself and in others.
As previously stated, Hades owns Megara. She sold her soul to Hades to save her boyfriend’s life, but he ended up leaving her for another woman and left Megara trapped in servitude to Hades. Of course, Megara is crushed and vows that she will never let another man hurt her again. But Hercules comes along, and they begin to develop feelings for each other. In one scene, Hercules and Megara sneak off and spend the entire day together, and they almost share their first kiss together until they are interrupted by Phil. After their almost-kiss, Megara then begins to realize that her feelings for Hercules have progressed, but she quickly refuses to admit it. Eventually, she succumbs to love she has for Hercules and admits that she is, finally, in love. This scene shows that Megara has lost faith in herself and in men. She no longer felt that she was worthy of a man’s love because after she sacrificed everything her boyfriend, he just ran out on her, and she felt belittled and betrayed. Hercules was able to show Megara that not all men are untrustworthy and spineless like her ex-boyfriend. Hercules restored Megara’s faith in herself and showed her that she was indeed worthy of love, and her faith in others and showed her that there are a lot of good people in the world that would never do to others what her ex-boyfriend did to her.
After Hercules finds out that he can once more become a god and rejoin his mother and father in Mount Olympus, he seeks out Philotes, the trainer of heroes, to help him get there. He finds Phil on an isolated island where he now lives out his retired days. Phil retired from training heroes because every hero he trained let him down and failed. He tells Hercules that he once had a dream, that he would train a hero so amazing that the gods would hang a picture of him in the star, and everyone would say ‘That’s Phil’s boy’. He gave up that dream when all the heroes he attempted to train were unsuccessful. Phil had lost faith in himself when he was unable to provide a hero that was worthy of defending people and stopping monsters. Phil also lost his confidence in others when they were unable to give the people what they wanted, a hero that could protect them from danger, and when they were constantly disappointing him. When Hercules came along, he helped to bring back that sureness that Phil once had to successfully train a hero. Hercules continually defeated every monster that he had come up against, each time he was simultaneously restoring Phil’s faith in himself and in others. Hercules proved to Phil that he was capable of training a successful hero that could easily protect the citizens of the town and stop the creatures terrorizing them. Phil put all his remaining trust and faith in Hercules, and by doing so, Hercules made both his and Phil’s dream come true.
Lastly, in this scene, Hercules has just given up his strength to Hades for the next twenty-four hours to save Megara’s life. After Hercules agreed, Hades tells him the truth about Megara and how she had been fooling him the entire time. Afterwards, Hades frees five Titans, four are physical manifestations of some of Earth’s elements and the other is a cyclops. He sends the cyclops to kill Hercules in his weekend state, and Hercules puts himself in the cyclops’ way, fully knowing that it will kill him. Hercules lost faith in himself and in Megara after finding out that their love was not true (so he thinks). Megara, knowing that he was going to die, goes to get Phil. Phil runs to Hercules and tells him not to give up and that he can do the distance with or without his strength and Megara. Hercules then proceeds to kill the cyclops, rescue his father and the others in Mount Olympus, and saves Megara. Phil is beside Hercules in his time of need, and Phil gives Hercules the strength and the courage to help him defeat his attacker. Phil helped Hercules realize that he did not need his strength or Megara’s love to defeat somebody, but all he needed was to believe in himself. Phil reestablished Hercules confidence and faith in himself and showed Hercules what he was truly capable of, even without the god-like strength. Phil also helped to bring back some of that faith Hercules had in Megara when he saw that Megara went after Phil because she did not want Hercules to die.
Getting an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, a lot of positive feedback and reviews for Hercules can be found. But not everyone loved Hercules as much as I did. According to top critic and journalist, Desson Howe, Hercules was “[An] insipid, lifeless, animated feature”. I do not happen to agree with Thomson’s interpretation of Hercules. This film has a lot of very positive messages for kids and adults alike. It was a funny and witty movie that, again, both children and adults could enjoy. The movie was very outgoing and out-of-the-box for Disney with a fun collection of characters and an interesting plot. Overall, one of the main themes that Hercules displays is that people should not give up on their dreams and that it is always nice to have someone that is always there to help restore your faith. Hercules successfully displays these messages to its audience making it, to me at least, a must-see movie.
With excellent ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and other websites alike, Hercules makes a spectacular movie in demonstrating the significance of having someone in your life that always has your back in times of trouble. This fantasy-comedy movie uses Greek mythology and a wide range of characters to demonstrate that no matter who, what, where, when, or how a true friend is always there for you and that they can help restore faith in one’s self and in others. Hercules, Phil, and Megara all help illustrate the significance of a true friend and how they can help you establish faith. They all obtain the dreams as the movie influences that it is always nice to have someone to restore your faith in yourself and in others.
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