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HERCULES

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What You Need To Know:

The latest Disney offering, HERCULES, plays with ancient Greek myths and creates a spoof of American sports merchandising. Hercules realizes that money making deals and beating up hydras do not make a hero. Hercules is a half-man/half-god born of Zeus, the chief god on Mt. Olympus. The god of the underworld, Hades, kidnaps Hercules and almost renders him mortal. Hercules is adopted by a mortal couple and falls in love with Meg, who is unwillingly working for Hades. Hades uses Meg to persuade Hercules to surrender his mortality. Hercules does, and Hades sends four Titans to battle Zeus. Thus, Hercules must rescue Meg and his father.

A proper Christian understanding of this myth is that it is just a story, and that the Bible is the only source for faith and moral instruction. It is important to tell children that there is only one true God and not multiple gods as shown in HERCULES. The movie does have some clear biblical allegories and values and shows that heroism isn’t measured by your stats but by selfless behavior. Some parents will be concerned with the scary monsters. Other will be concerned by Meg’s sassy nature. Even so, HERCULES is the lightest, most action-oriented Disney movie since ALADDIN, but the raging culture wars may not help it at the box office

Content:

(B, FR, C, L, V, N, D, M) Ultimately moral worldview set in a world of false religions & gods with prayer to Zeus, statements that this story is “the gospel truth” & christological allegory; one “lets kick some butt” & one “Oh my God”; mild slapstick violence including falling pillars, silly physical training sequences & a few scary, bloodless battle sequences where Hercules fights a Minotaur, a Cyclops, an army of Titans, & cuts the heads off a multi-headed Hydra; buxom heroine acts flirtatious & reference to man being unfaithful to woman; no nudity, but dresses slit up the side; and, cigar smoking.

More Detail:

While POCAHONTAS revised history and promoted New Age ideas and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME promoted redemption and Christian values during a dark time in French history, HERCULES plays with ancient Greek myths involving gods and half-gods and creates a story that is flippant spoof of American merchandising wherein young Hercules realizes that merchandising and beating up hydras do not make a hero.

Like ALADDIN and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the movie starts with a narration introducing the backstory. Here, it is given by a group of singing muses who originate as paintings on Grecian urns and sing like the Supremes with ample exposure of their long legs . They tell about the gods who live on Mt. Olympus including Zeus, regrettably telling the audience that the story is “the gospel truth.” (One little girl at the press screening kept asking, “Mommy, is this a true story?”) In particular, the muses tell of Zeus’s baby boy, the immortal half-man/half-god Hercules, who fascinates all the inhabitants of Mt. Olympus.

At a baby shower for Hercules, the god of the dead, Hades (James Woods), shows up, causing the party guests to be uncomfortable. Flippant and humorous, but completely evil, he figures that if he can kill Hercules, he can rule the universe.

Back in the underworld, where human souls float about in perpetual agony, Hades sends two demons named Pain and Panic to kidnap baby Hercules and give him a potion which will make him mortal. The kidnapping is a success, but the demons do not administer all of the potion to Hercules. Hence, Hercules is still immortal and still has his enormous strength.

Young Hercules is adopted by a mortal couple in Athens who raise him as their own child, but he quickly realizes he is a little different from the other children when he unintentionally knocks down everything in his path. Hercules is told by his earthling parents that he was born from Zeus. Hercules seeks out Zeus, who tells him that he can return to Mt. Olympus if he proves himself truly heroic.

Hercules seeks a physical trainer who can help him become heroic. He finds Phil, a satyr who has trained all the heroes of the past, including Achilles. Soon, Hercules is mightier, swifter and more agile than anyone in the land. He returns to civilization and battles a Centaur who is antagonizing a young maiden, named Meg and then a Hydra, a Cyclops and various other mythological creatures. Hercules informs Zeus that he has become a true hero, but Zeus says that there is more to being a hero than just defeating your foes on the field of battle.

Between battles, Hercules falls in love with Meg, who is really an agent of the god of the underworld ever since Meg sold her soul to Hades in exchange for his promise that he would turn the heart of her boyfriend towards her. Regrettably, the boyfriend ran off with another woman. Hades believes that he can use Meg to capture Hercules, and he does, but Hades fails to take into account that Meg will fall in love with Hercules, too.

Lovesick, Hercules promises Hades that he will give up his strength for a day in exchange for Meg’s freedom. As soon as Hercules relinquishes his strength, Hades releases four Titans, who torment Mt. Olympus and temporarily capture Zeus. Hercules risks his life to save Meg. Hades breaks his deal with Meg when she gets hurt and dies. Hercules travels to the underworld to save Meg, and through his willingness to sacrifice himself, he becomes a real hero.

Greek myths are important educational tools in Western culture. Though completely fictional, these myths help students to understand heroes and archetypes. Many other tales in Western culture are retellings of these Greek myths. A proper Christian understanding of these stories is that they are just stories and that the Bible is the ultimate source for faith and moral instruction. Regrettably, the introductory song makes the mistake of telling the audience that this story is “the gospel truth.”

Having said that, HERCULES can be shown to children and appreciated by families as a primer in Greek mythology − a fictional tale based on ancient stories passed down from ancient Greece. In this regard, it is very important to tell children that there is only one true God and not multiple anthropomorphic gods as shown in HERCULES. HERCULES doesn’t endorse false religion, but it does place its entire worldview on this mythological premise. Likewise, Hercules deals with the devil, rather than rebuking and defeating the devil as Jesus Christ did.

HERCULES does give a scary and nasty picture of what hell may be like. While it is popular today to believe in heaven and angels, few contemporary movies picture hell as a real place containing demons. HERCULES shows the leader of hell, Hades, giving commands to his demons to torment earthlings while gaunt souls float about in darkness separated from all that is good. Also, within the mythological setting, Hercules trusts in prayer to a so-called supreme god, Zeus, to get through difficulties. Finally, there is a christological allegorical element in the story of a god-man whose sacrificial death saves his beloved from the death and the devil. Even those who are not used to incarnational allegory may remember that some of the most prominent Christian apologists, including C.S. Lewis, came to Jesus Christ by studying redemptive myths. Mr. Lewis testified that studying incarnational myths at Oxford led him to look for the true story behind the myths which was the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Biblical values are taught, stating that heroism isn’t measured by your prowess, or victories or the size of your marketing deal, but by selfless behavior. Hercules thinks he is a champ because of the amazing “stats” he is able to rack up. He is a sort of Greek Michael Jordan. Greek citizens adore him and put his name and face on everything imaginable from urns to footwear. (Wisely, Disney is lampooning its own excesses in marketing.) HERCULES also spoofs training movies like ROCKY and KARATE KID.

Some parents may be alarmed by the “come hither” flirting by the heroine, and some women might be upset that Meg is so easily manipulated by the devil. In fact, Meg is the first Disney heroine who is jaded and “used.” While Belle had a point-of-view, Meg has an attitude. Although Meg is not as sexy as Pocahontas, she is cheap, sassy and has been around the block. Also, she does not value life nor men. However, when she falls in love with Hercules, she sacrifices herself for him even though she knows that she will incur the wrath of Hades.

Of most concern to parents will be some of the battle scenes, where Hercules gets thrown about as he faces some very scary looking monsters. He wields his sword on several occasions, but no blood shedding is shown. Furthermore, Hades is a very weird, scary villain.

In recent years, Disney has come under attack for abandoning a Judeo-Christian moral outlook in its movies. HERCULES doesn’t contain a lot of heavy handed morality, or questionable immorality such as political-correctness or revisionist history. It is the lightest Disney movie since ALADDIN, and it has the same flippant attitude of ALADDIN with lots of action and little substance. The songs are sweet but forgettable, though the animation is top-notch.

Fifty years ago, when nobody in their right mind believed that myths were true, HERCULES would have been accepted as light-weight Disney entertainment. Today, with the culture wars raging and Christians sensitized to false religions, HERCULES may not fare so well.

Now more than ever we’re bombarded by darkness in media, movies, and TV. Movieguide® has fought back for almost 40 years, working within Hollywood to propel uplifting and positive content. We’re proud to say we’ve collaborated with some of the top industry players to influence and redeem entertainment for Jesus. Still, the most influential person in Hollywood is you. The viewer.

What you listen to, watch, and read has power. Movieguide® wants to give you the resources to empower the good and the beautiful. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support.

You can make a difference with as little as $7. It takes only a moment. If you can, consider supporting our ministry with a monthly gift. Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.


Now more than ever we’re bombarded by darkness in media, movies, and TV. Movieguide® has fought back for almost 40 years, working within Hollywood to propel uplifting and positive content. We’re proud to say we’ve collaborated with some of the top industry players to influence and redeem entertainment for Jesus. Still, the most influential person in Hollywood is you. The viewer.

What you listen to, watch, and read has power. Movieguide® wants to give you the resources to empower the good and the beautiful. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support.

You can make a difference with as little as $7. It takes only a moment. If you can, consider supporting our ministry with a monthly gift. Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.


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