Posted by: Jon Turner <Send E-Mail> Date: Sunday, July 1, 2007, at 10:20 p.m. IP Address: cache-rtc-ae08.proxy.aol.com
While I don't think "Hercules" is anywhere nearly as bad as its naysayers say (I went through a phrase of loving it once, then hating it immensely, but then looking upon it with less adoring or discerning eyes at the end), it certainly is not one of Disney's better films. The problem is that it tries too hard to be like another "Aladdin," what with all the throwaway comic references and the attempt to recycle Robin Willaims' Genie through James Woods' arguably superior vocalization of the Underworld God Hades. These gags are crammed in to liven up a rather lifeless, predictable plot, only they feel forced. In all fairness, "Hercules" isn't bad, it's merely an average film.
Where Menken's score is concerned, this, too, is a lesser effort. I don't know whether the fault lies with the source material or if Menken's style was diminishing here. I've always liked his work for "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", and, to a lesser extent, "Pocahontas", and "Aladdin". But this is his second weakest score (the first is for the even more disastrous "Home on the Range"). While Clemmensen has slamdunked the choice of using gospel songs for the film, I feel that they are actually the liveliest, even if they are admittingly a curious choice for a Greek epic. "Go The Distance" was okay, but most of the other songs are below the standard that I expect from Menken--DeVito's song was regrettable, and I didn't like the so-called "love song" either.
While I don't consider "Hercules" to be the complete failure that FilmTracks has cast it off as (as mentioned, that title belongs to "Home on the Range"), it's certainly a weak point in Menken's profile of musicals for Disney.