" I can safely say at this point that we are lost. "
— Heather Donahue, The Blair Witch Project

MRQE Top Critic

Winsor McCay -- The Master Edition

A new DVD offers an opportunity to see films by a master of animation —Andrea Birgers (DVD review...)

Gertie the Dinosaur, born of Winsor McCay

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I skipped the last two Disney features because I thought they looked exactly like the previous four — beautiful adolescent heroes, nonbeautiful comic-relief sidekicks, simplistic morality, and a song here and there.

Looks like I should have skipped this one too.

If you have kids and feel obligated to see this movie, go right ahead. It is a clone of all the Disney features since The Little Mermaid. You know exactly what you’re getting into. If you’re like me — looking for something original or fresh, then you can probably skip this one.

The story is a Disneyfied version of Hercules. Lots of the details are wrong (see sidebar), but the basic story is about right. Hercules is the mortal son of Zeus, but he has the strength of a god. Brave Herc decides to become a hero and sets out to prove himself by fighting all sorts of nasty monsters. Eventually, he gains the notice of a jealous god (Hades, not Hera) whom he must later confront. This being Disney, there is of course a love interest, Megara.

As usual, the only character that’s not white bread with mayo is the villain. James Woods steals the show as a very show-businesslike CEO of the underworld, complete with flaming blue hair.

Of the songs, two stand out: one because it’s bad, the other because it’s good. “Go the Distance” is a thankfully short gaggy schmaltzy you-can-do-anything number, and “Zero to Hero” accompanies a packed montage of heroic feats and mythological references that actually might merit a second viewing. Parents who feel obligated to buy every Disney movie shouldn’t mind seeing that sequence the first 15 times. There’s probably a lot there.

One final note deserves mentioning; the credits zoom by at an unusually high speed. Most people walk out during the credits anyway, so the crawl speed really shouldn’t matter. Nevertheless, the credits rocket upwards insultingly fast. A lot of people worked very hard to produce Hercules, and they deserve better.

One final postscript. Before you rush out to give Disney your money, consider this item by Henry Sheehan from the Orange County Register.

ABC, who owns Disney, rejected ads for the animated film Anastasia, being released by 20th Century Fox. Fox wanted to target its audience by buying ads during the family-oriented “Wonderful World of Disney,” but that wonderful world wasn’t big enough for two.

Lest you think this is a mere coincidence, Disney has also scheduled a re-release of The Little Mermaid to coincide with the opening of Anastasia. Sounds like someone needs to learn how to share.