I loved Hercules when I was younger; I'm fairly certain it was the first Disney movie I actually saw in the cinema and man it was hype! In particular, I remember being blown away by the CGI hydra monster and just thinking it was so cool! Yeah, it doesn't hold up. I mean, the movie as a whole still holds up fairly well, but the CGI really doesn't and – with hindsight – it's a real shame they even tried. Atlantis pulls off the melding of traditional animation with CGI set pieces much better, but this was just too early.
One CGI monster aside, the rest of the film has its ups and downs. The Muses are awesome and every song they have is great, but the rest of the soundtrack is fairly forgettable. Meg is still an interesting and unusually complex side character (and I can still see why I had a crush on her as a kid 😂) but does feel a little underused. She spends the whole film being pretty kickass and independent, only to fall into the role of damsel in the final third, which is a shame. I still enjoyed Phil the satyr and Hades, though their clearly American accents now feel a little weirdly placed. Pain and Panic, though, felt quite cheaply written and didn't really land; they're for the kids and that's fine but most other Disney sidekicks have personality, so it was weird seeing two walking joke boxes.
From a plot perspective, I felt a little let down honestly. The tale of Hercules and his trials is pretty cool the film could easily have just been about that, but instead we get the whole thing done in a single montage and then a slightly lacklustre plot about the Titans, who never really feel threatening. They're released, climb the mountain, and get defeated. 🤷♂️ The whole parody of celebrity fame and Hollywood is great and I enjoyed that, and I like that Hercules sacrifices himself to save Meg in the Underworld to regain his divinity, but Hades' actual plot feels a little dull in comparison. Also, I checked this afterwards, but what's up with the Cyclops? It isn't meant to be one of the Titans, it just appears at the same time, and it feels tonally off as a result.
I also found the animation a bit too weird. It didn't actually feel like Disney (apart from Pegasus; every Disney horse is the same horse after all 😁) and whilst some elements of the style, like the Greek characters and monster design, largely worked, I actually really disliked Hercules himself. There was something about the way he's been animated that just makes me dislike him slightly.
Basically, I still enjoyed the movie, but I definitely felt a little letdown and how simplistic it is and how much cooler the source material could have made it.