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Hercules (Zavvi Exclusive Limited Edition Steelbook)

Disney // Unrated // July 7, 2014
List Price: €19.99 [Buy now and save at Zavvi]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted November 2, 2014 | E-mail the Author



http-equiv="content-type">
Hercules Zavvi Exclusive Steelbook Blu-ray


Hercules may not be true to Greek mythology
(and it
may have received more than its fair share of criticism for that) but
it sure
is a blast of entertainment with a fun premise, great characters, and
some of
Disney's iconic animation from the 90's. The story focuses upon the
young and
incredibly strong Hercules as he learns from his adoptive parents of
his place
in the sky as someone who was a God, fallen, and unable to return to
Zeus, his
birth father, unless he can somehow be capable of proving himself as a
"real hero" (and that the key to that is much more than his already
great physical strength).


Hercules enlists the help of a renowned personal
trainer Philoctetes
(Danny DeVito, who gives a fantastic voice-performance) to help him
become even
stronger and more skilled in the craft of saving the day so that can
return to
the sky and "fit in" again (as he is often ridiculed for being
unnaturally strong).  Along the journey
to finding what it takes to be a real hero, Hercules is a naturally
splendid
singer as well (Roger Bart performing the songs), singing the anthem of
"Go
The Distance". He meets a mysterious girl named Meg (who is perfectly
voiced by Susan Egan) while on this quest and the two start to form a
special
connection.  


Hercules begins to fall for Meg and wants to learn
what he
can about her as the two become romantically involved. Yet the evil
mastermind
who threw Hercules out of the loop years ago, Hades: Lord of the
Underworld
(voiced by the brilliant James Woods) is out to destroy Hercules and
stop him
from getting back to the heavens and might just be getting in the way
of the
two of these lovebirds having a happy ending as well.


Directed by legendary Disney filmmakers Ron
Clements and
John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Treasure
Planet
,
The Princess and the Frog) this duo has largely been responsible
for several
of the great Disney animation film productions dating to 1986's Great
Mouse
Detective
. This Disney filmmaking team is one of the best in all
film (not just
animation). I think of these filmmakers as visionaries in the field of
animation but also just as director's in general.


While Aladdin will always hold a special
place in my
heart as my favorite Disney film, other efforts of this team are
exceptional
across the board too. I love their style, which consistently deftly
blends the
comedy and action with a sense of sweeping spectacle. Characters are
never lost
in the shuffle and the pacing, flow, and emotional backdrop of the film
is left
intact. This directing quality makes Hercules an easily
enjoyable
adventure film and one that audiences are sure to find thrilling to one
degree
or another.


Written by the two co-directors, alongside writers
Don
McEnery, Bob Shaw, and Irene Mecchi, Hercules has an often
hilarious and
charming script which keeps the proceedings as enjoyable from beginning
to end.
The goals of the filmmaking show that it was designed as an animated
comedy
with some dramatic and action-oriented sequences thrown in, not as a
great
adaptation of mythology. While some purists looking for more Greek
mythos in
the Disney storyline may walk away disappointed, anyone hoping for a
entertaining spectacle will feel pleased with the finished results.


The animation style is incredibly fluid and
beautiful to
behold with character designs that are highly memorable, lush
background
artwork is readily apparent, and the large scope of the artwork in both
the
heavens and underworld settings of Hercules feels remarkably
detailed,
visually inventive, and original for this production.  Hercules
is ultimately all the more fun
because of its charming animation, screenplay, and direction and the
filmmakers
ability to be playful with this storytelling universe. Disney fans who
have yet
to see Hercules are strongly encourage to check it out (and
soon). It
may just surprise the unfamiliar as being far more of a "hero" than a
"zero" as far as Disney animation goes.


The Blu-ray:





Video:


Hercules style="">arrives on Blu-ray with a solid and
frequently stunning 1080p High Definition presentation. Not only does
the
encode quality raise to over 30mbps, which makes it a technically
impressive
encode rate, the color reproduction is amazing. The art shines.


The production was meticulously
well executed and everything about the animation style manages to
impress. If
there is any downside, it is that the film does have occasional minor
banding
and aliasing. However, I did not detect these on the video frequently,
and for
the most part I was left feeling satisfied and impressed. Presented in
1.78:1,
Hercules is a solid high def release.  


Audio:


The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is quite boisterous
and engaging.
The surround usage adds a fantastic layer to the experience and its
effectiveness. The music quality is excellent. As to dialogue
reproduction? The
vocal clarity is excellent. This is an engaging mix with a solid
presentation
in 24 bit.


Additional audio options included on this release:
5.1 DTS-HD
High Resolution French and German, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish,
Portuguese, and
Dutch.


Subtitles are provided in: English, English SDH
(for the
deaf and hearing impaired), Spanish, Dutch, German, Portuguese, and
French.  





style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; text-align: center;"> style="font-family: Verdana; font-size: 10pt;">Photographs
of the Zavvi
Exclusive Steelbook Edition:


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height="627" width="500">




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height="580" width="700">


Extras:


 


The Making of
Hercules
(9 min.) is an incredibly brief and fairly average
promotional
piece. Unfortunately, the edition does not included anything that is
too
in-depth about the film's production history.


 


"Go the
Distance" Music Video
(5 min.) as performed by Ricky Martin.





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height="600" width="450">



 


Final
Thoughts:


Hercules is often a film that I see people
refer to
as "second-tier" or "lesser" Disney but it's actually
pretty darn close to being at the same level of quality found in the
big
classics of animation produced during the early 1990's. It's an
incredibly
entertaining, action-packed, comedic, and inspired romp that is a great
work
from filmmakers Ron Clements and John Musker (Aladdin, The
Little
Mermaid
).


As for the merits of this Blu-ray release: picture
quality
and audio quality for Hercules have greatly impressed. The film
has
never looked better than it does with this High Definition
presentation. While
supplements are light, I wouldn't consider that to be a deal-breaker.


I enthusiastically recommend this Zavvi exclusive
limited
edition steelbook edition, which is a stunning release with lush glossy
coating,
embossing on the title, and a great dynamically rich color hue that
makes it
stand out from the crowd of other steelbooks. For a steelbook
collector, the
release easily earns top marks across the board. Disney fans and
steelbook
collectors should definitely consider adding this beautiful release to
their
collections.


Highly Recommended.



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.


C O N T E N T

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