Disney’s Hercules (“Honey, you mean HUNKules!) has finally arrived in High Definition in a Special Edition Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital HD Combo Pack. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 1997 musical epic was last released on DVD in 2000 with a non-anamorphic transfer full of grain, the opposite of what one would expect for an animated film made with computers. Surprisingly, this is the first time the film has been released on home video direct from the digital source.
The story of the son of Zeus has been brought to the big screen many times (the latest version is in theaters right now), but Disney adds a fun comedic spin to the tale that sets their version apart from the others. Jealous of Zeus and the other gods on Mount Olympus, Hades has his goons kidnap baby Hercules and attempts to drain him of his power. The flaw in Hades plan is that Herc doesn’t drink the last drop, allowing him to retain his strength. Raised by peasants, teenage Hercules discovers the secrets of his past and sets out to become the hero he was born to be.
Hercules has some of my favorite lines of any Disney film (“Indoor plumbing… it’s gonna be big!”) and the gospel-inspired songs by Alan Menken became instant Disney classics. Similar to Aladdin, the film dates itself with frequent pop culture references, but James Woods’ Hades is still hilarious seventeen years later. Philoctetes may bear a striking resemblance to voice actor Danny DeVito, but true Disney fans know the character was modeled after his animator, Eric Goldberg.
The HD 1080p transfer for Hercules is god-like, with bright colors and detail. The film is presented in widescreen 1.78:1 and I couldn’t detect any flaws in the transfer. The iTunes digital copy appears to be identical to the Blu-Ray disc. My only complaint is that they replaced the blue castle original opening with the new CG intro.
The DVD copy uses the new transfer as well and is a huge step up from the previous release.
Disney has created a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix that is epic. This track places you in the center of this hero’s tale. Other audio options are English 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 5.1, Spanish 5.1 and Portuguese 5.1.
The DVD includes English, French and Spanish in 5.1 Dolby Digital.
If you were expecting Disney to create some new bonus material for this release, you will be disappointed. Disney has carried over the two bonus features from the previous DVD release and added an old sing-along clip.
- The Making of Hercules – This 9-minute featurette feels like a promotional piece from 1997. It offers some insight from the production team, animators and voice actors.
- “No Importa la Distancia” music video by Rickey Martin – For the Spanish language release, singer Ricky Martin did a pop version of “Go the Distance.”
- “Zero to Hero” Sing-Along – Taken directly from the old VHS Disney Sing-Along Songs series (it includes the end of a line from the host of those videos at the start), this feature is in fullscreen and feels completely unnecessary.
The DVD includes The Making of Hercules and the Ricky Martin music video.
There is one obvious omission that was also absent on the previous DVD, and that’s Michael Bolton’s music video for “Go the Distance.” This is most likely due to a copyright that Disney isn’t willing to pursue.
Packaging & Menu
Hercules is housed in a two-sided Blu-Ray case with the Blu-Ray disc on the right, DVD on the left. Inserts inside include your Disney Movie Rewards/digital copy code and an ad for Disney Movie Club. The case is housed inside an embossed slipcover.
The Blu-Ray, DVD and iTunes digital copy menu presents clips from the film set to eerie score from the film.
Both discs open with ads for Sleeping Beauty Diamond Edition, Planes Fire & Rescue, and Legend of the Never Beast. Selecting Sneak Peeks plays ads for Disney Movie Rewards, Disney Parks, and The Lion King Broadway Musical.
Hercules is a fun animated film with memorable music and songs. Disney’s Blu-Ray release gives a stunning presentation and the DVD is a huge upgrade from the previous release. “And this perfect package packs a pair of pretty pecs!”
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.