CAST & CREDITS
COMMENTARY 1 Jeanette Atwood
COMMENTARY 2 KSZoneW
Songs written by Michele Brourman and Amanda McBroom ("Across the Sea of Time", "Titans Song", and "Xenas Song")
This synopsis is by KSZoneW.
The movie starts with the Sirens [Female Fishes with human bodys] singing "Across The Sea of Time" which is about how Zeus took the cronus stone from the titans and had a fling with Alcmene and had a son named Hercules, who defeated a hydra at an early age and became a hero. As they finish, a giant sea serpent comes from the sea and Hercules is trying to kill it. He finally throws a giant rock in its mouth but it jumps on the shore and lands on top of Hercules. It cant live on land so it dies and Herc climbs out of its nosteral. The villagers thank Herc and Iolaus climbs out of a restchair and joins Hercules, who gets a big fish as a gift from the villagers. Herc and Iolaus head to Thebes to see Alcmene but Iolaus is a little upset because Herc gets all the credit. However the two defeat several highway men and alls okay. Saytars are in a bar and stole gold from helples people thus Xena and Gabrielle show up to beat them up and take the money back. Ares shows up after Gabrielle throws wine at a saytar and be ats him up with her fighting stick. He tells Xena to stop Herc from going to Thebes because theres a trap set for him there. Xena wants Herc to go since theres trouble and he needs to help. She is mad because Ares never gives up and wants her. She and Gabrielle argue about his intentions a little but are not enemys or nothings. Theres No rift between them in this film.
Herc is acting like a horse and pulling a old style plow at his moms house. Iolaus is tired but they see Zeus come from the heavens in his chariot winged horses like Pegasus driving the chariot down. He takes Alcmene to Mt Olympus and Herc's pissed ! Iolaus thinks Alcmene went on her own since she put up no fight but Herc disagrees and pushes Iolaus against a wall in his anger. Herc says sorry and the two head to rescue Alcmene. Zeus talks to Ares and wonders why he did not stop Hercules. He says he tryed to get a mortal named Xena to do it and Zeus is mad because Ares keeps wanting Xena. Hera shows up, Hera is an old woman with a bad attitude face and nasty voice and attitude, and yells at Zeus about bringing Alcmene here. She leaves and somehow steals the cronus stone in the momment, the stone that keeps the titans in the underworld lava pits. Hera summons the titans out while Zeus checks on Alcmene, whos been shrunk and placed in a small arabian doll house castle for safety from Hera. Aphrodite surfs down a mountain and makes Iolaus very happy and hugs her bro Hercules. She tells Herc that Heras mad and not to go to Mt Olympus for his own good but he decides to go and Iolaus stays behind to entertain the goddess of love but she leaves when an earthquake starts. But its a small boy who falls into the lava pits. Herc holds the colliding ends together and Iolaus pulls up the boy making both heros. The mother takes her son as Xena and Gabrielle, in a nearby town, battle 3 thugs who they beat easily and Xena must stop a rolling giant rock from destroying the fat thug. As she is successful, they show Herc meeting the titan Porphyion. The leader titan says Herc can go free because he is not defending the gods. Zeus calls Artemis, Aphrodite, and Ares together to fight The Titans and they hope Hercules helps them. Xena and Gabrielle are helping wounded people and Artemis decides to get Xenas help and turns Gabrielle into a giant bird. Xena flys on Gabrielle to The Gods home while Herc climbs up. Artemis says she turned Gabrielle to get Xenas help and Xena said that all she had to do was ask for help from Xena. The titans come and fight. There four big titans-Poprhyrion, Tethys, Crius, and Mnemosyne. Herc shows up and says hi to Xena but rescues Alcmene and leaves everyone to fight the titans. Hera turns the gods into animal after. Iolaus and Xena escape via bird Gabrielle to Alcmenes house. Everyones upset because Herc did nothing to help Alcmene. The gods are all small animals untill Zeus can get the stone back. Ares is a sheep, Aphrodite is a pig, Artemis Is a rabbit, and Zeus is a mouse. Herc finds out that Alcmene was sick and Zeus offered to make up for hardtimes by giving her immortality and taking her to live with him on Mt Olympus. Hercs still mad at Zeus
The titans sing a stupid song and its back to earth where Xena sings somthing and both her and Hercules makeup and agree to help the gods get there home and stone back. The Titans get the stone from Hera and turn her into a small doll and place her in the dollhouse. Alcmene by the way has been turned back intoa normal person. The heros ride Gabrielle to the mountain and fight the Titans. Herc gets the stone and tears it apart and thus the underworld caverns open and the lava pits are displayed. Herc and Xena flip the fat titan Crius into the lave and Iolaus gets the water and fire females titans to collide and disolve into the firey pits. Gabrielle scoops up Porphy-rion who grabbed Hercules. Hercules managed to reach Gabrielles back where Xena and Iolaus are sitting and Gabby the bird drops the titan into the cavern, catches a falling Hercules, and drops him off on the gods mountain in time to close the stone which locks the titans in there prison of lava. Zeus and Alcmene go back to Olympus and Zeus welcomes Herc to visit. Herc than heads of with Iolaus, Gabrielle, and Xena to Corinth to return a bag of gold and seek another adventure.
This commentary is by --.
This commentary is by Jeanette Atwood.
I once heard a snippet of a story of the worlds biggest knot. A prize of all you can eat pizza was offered as an incentive to untangle the knot. Many people tried but they got discouraged after 5 to 10 minutes because nobody knew even where to begin deconstructing the knot.
That's pretty much how I feel about "The Battle of Mount Olympus."
How do you even begin to describe something so beyond words?
Where to begin?
Begin...at the beginning.
As soon as I heard that an animated Hercules and Xena was coming I was instantly nervous. Usually straight to video in animation means, "This is NOT GOOD." There have been a few cheerful exceptions, notably Tiny Toons: How I Spent My Summer Vacation but for the most part you get stuff like Return of Jafar or Land Before Time XVIII. (an interesting exception: A Goofy Movie was incepted as a straight to video feature but the quality was so good when it was completed it was released in theaters first. No such luck here folks.)
I would ask people who had seen clips at cons what they remembered and all I would ever get was vague, "Uh...I can't really remember. I just don't really remember," which I gathered to mean it certainly wasn't cutting edge, nail biting stuff.
Later when I saw some character designs for Hercules and Xena I really knew we were in trouble. (More on that later...) My trepedation got even worse when the release date was bumped back a full 3 months. That is NOT a good sign. The only movie I can think of in recent years that was worth the delayed release date is Titanic.
Finally...finally it's been released and I've sat through it. I feel bad on multiple levels...one being that I gathered up a whole slew of fellow animation students to help me write a critical review and forced them to sit through it. I'm a Xena nut...they didn't even have *that* excuse.
I guess you can tell where this is going...We weren't impressedand most of us are sick from laughter.
Now...onto the WHYS:
The Story: It's been said that good animation can not save a bad story. In this case there were NEITHER. The story was weak and less than 1 dimensional. Apparantly Herc is ticked off because Zeus has supposedly kidnapped his mom. Hera is ticked off because Zeus has taken Herc's mom to Olympus. She's so ticked off in fact that she releases the Titans. (incidentally they look nothing like the Titans that Gabrielle released in The Titans. Apparantly they're just going to ignore the fact we've already SEEN titans.)
(An opening sequence tries to rip off Disney's Hercules by having the muses...(we think that's who it was...we were laughing too hard at the animation) explain why the Titans were locked up ala using grecian pottery to tell the story but fails miserably. We weren't even paying attention to the song...we just couldn't belive that something could be so badly `tooned in todays renaissance of animation. More on that later.) Ares, (who looks like he's wearing clothes that used to be white but have been washed too many times with blue jeans and towels) tries to enlist Xena to help `champion' the gods in the upcoming fight with the Titans but she will have none of it.
Artemis turns Gabrielle into (and I am not making this up,) a giant bird. Xena figures out the gods are behind the transformation, (no @#$% sherlock!) and they fly to Olympus to try and get Gabrielle changed back. This actually *could* be an interesting premise but it takes too long to arrive at this point and by then we don't even care. If they had picked up the pace even just a little some interesting things *maybe* could have happened.
Character Designs: You've seen them. What more can I say? Bad, bad, bad, bad. The only one which even remotely resembles the real life actor would be Gabrielle. (and even THAT isn't very good!) Everyone else is a pain to look at when you're not laughing outright at the sheer BADNESS of the characters.
Unfortunatly our favorite bard is a giant bird during most of the story...and any charm *that* could have had was completely disregarded. On a semi plus side we get to finally see Artemis who is portrayed as an annoying little teenage sister to Ares. Her design is interesting though if that were *my* patron goddess...well...I could see why Velaska was so ticked off. At least Ares takes his job seriously.
*Anybody* with even a passing knowledge of anatomy could do a better job with Hercules' muscles and as for Xena...let me just say, whoever designed her with that jaw and red hair should be *fired!*
I could go on and on about the annoyingness of Ares, (what's with the hair?)
Animation: Okay, I'll be frank...I'm a snob about animation. I get irritated with stuff like `Return of Jafar' and was annoyed with "Beauty and the Beast: A Christmas Story" for the inability of the animators to keep Belle on model.
I knew H & X wouldn't be up to that quality but I was maybe hoping for even a "Land Before Time" quality. No such luck.
This isn't even Thundercats quality. At least the anatomy in that is regular in the innacuracies and the characters can stay on model. This is like if Thundar the Barbarian were merged with Scooby Doo for quality. Yep, it's *that* bad.
My animation buddies were either laughing outright or cringing in outright horror.
Layout: The job of the layout department is to expand on the storyboard and design the backgrounds and camera shots. They also are to design the props and show the animation department exactly WHAT the characters are to do in each different scene.
As for backgrounds (WHAT backgrounds?!) we were treated to a score of blurry colors which after a while left one with the vague impression of having been hit with a fish. There was a lot of `background pulling' trying to indicate the character is moving quickly through space but instead looked like...well...a blob of color was being pulled behind a cell.
As for the props...Xena's chakram kept changing sizes and dimensions, (not to mention disappearing several times after throwing,) in one scene it's bending on her hip, in another it's got a dome. It's not that complicated a shape guys...pick a shape and KEEP IT!
Xena's chakram wasn't the only thing changing shapes and sizes. The Titans kept changing sizes...one minute they're normal sized, the next they're really big. Hera actually *increases* their size during one point and yet Bird Gabrielle can pick one up.
Actually Bird Gabrielle is one of the worst for changing sizes. Xena is standing on her head on one scene, the next Gabrielle is sticking her head in a relatively medium sized window. I could go on and on...
The songs: The first one is long and tedious and boring. The animation certainly didn't enhance it and I have to admit we were paying more attention to the bad animation than the song during the opening bit.
By the time the Titans sang their bit we were starting the 3rd act. Singing was completely out of place by this time. As for the SONG well...how lame can lyrics get? "We're the titans. We are strong." If you can find a melody please hop on! I was more annoyed than Hera at them.
The only reason I can think to have the Titans sing at this late point was to remind us that yes, this IS a musical and Xena is going to sing.
Xena's song: Okay...I'm a big sucker for Lucy Lawless singing and it's one of the main reasons I actually *bought* the video. (Well...that and the little chakram you get with it...)
I was actually pleasantly surprised with the song. If you closed your eyes and ignored the annoying visuals it was pretty good. (The visuals included Xena in some white ...uh...I think it was supposed to be armor, and when Hercules came up at the end and started mugging (he had the WEIRDEST expessions...) I wanted to strangle whoever was responsible for the animation.
Some good stuff (and was there any?) : Actually there *were* some elements that weren't entirely horrible. It was pretty much agreed that Gabrielle (when she wasn't a bird and they weren't trying to do a Resucers Down Under ripoff) wasn't bad. There's this bit during a barfight at the beginning where Xena's head is in the foreground and Gabrielle is in the back fighting with her staff and she clunks this guy and the force sends her flying up. That was pretty good.
There's also a great semi subtexty line, (subtext? WHAT subtext?) where a leering satyr, (or something...at anyrate he was blue and big) quips to Xena and Gabrielle, "Why don't you girls go and give yourselves a thrill?" I think he was trying it as a come on for him and the other satyrs but even my fellow animators who are unaware of the subtleties of the show caught that line and raised a few eyebrows.
The Xena and Gabrielle relationship actually was pretty good in this story. (a pleasant relief during reruns and the Rift.) Xena obviously was quite distraught at having her best friend turned into a bird. (I can't believe I just typed that line...)
I feel bad the animation wasn't up for this story aspect. I mean...some neat visuals could have been made with this...the scene where Xena is trying to teach Gabrielle to fly could have been really *really* good but instead it plumeted like a rock. (pun intended. You have to see it.) Restoring Gabrielle to her perky bardlyness, (is that a word?) is actually Xena's main thrust in the story... she doesn't really care about the Titans or the Olympic Gods or even really about Herc's mom. She just wants her sidekick fixed.
In the end I have to say that I was really not surprised but still majorly disppointed with the overall quality of this animated feature. It had a LOT of potential which got blown big time.
When watching the final credits the only thing we could say was, "You're fired!" at entire departments.
In a time where animation has regained credability, almost every major studio has geared up a full fledged classical animation department and really *really* good stuff abounds how Universal could so drop the ball on this is beyond me.
There are plenty of quality independent animation studios they could have outsourced this to and gotten some pretty good results back. There was simply no excuse for quality this bad. Hercules and Xena have already proven themselves to be moneymakers and some proper funding should have been invested into this venture to insure not just to the studio but to the FANS who have made the show's profitable that it would be worthwhile viewing.
Me, personally...heads should roll for this or at the very least...a lot of artists should be *extremely* embarassed.
If they ask me whether or not I think I could do a better job on this...let me just say quite loudly and clearly, "YES! Yes I can!" I think I would be hard pressed to animate something so BADLY and my fellow animation students concur.
If Universal wants to try again...let them come up to Sheridan and let us have a shot at it. We certainly can't do worse. Final rating: Half a star out of four.
This commentary is by KSZoneW.
The animation was not as good as disney movies but was okay. The characters where good and a little strange and diffrent. The songs where little kid things and they did use some HTLJ and XWP music in the episode including clips from the XWP episode "The Furies" entrance theme music in the credits. The story was kind of dark with the kidnapping but was kid style. The most intresting thing was the actual characters themselves.
Hercules was cocky and brash and a little darker than usual. He HATED Zeus and refused to help anyone because he wanted to kidnap his mother from Zeus. Hercules ended up being a hero but was much more violent and mad during this episode. Iolaus was the same old womanizer and funny sidekick. Gabrielle was a bird and it was kind of funny to see act out a bird and fly. Thats something we will never see on the actual series. Zeus was brave and fearless unlike the character he is during HTLJ and XWP. Alcmene was the same old "mother to Hercules" and Xena was more heroic like Hercules. Artemis was like Discord and Ares was more smitten with Xena than ever. Xena menion how Ares framed her during the XWP episode "Reckoning" which surprised me. The titans where good villans and the funniest one was the one voiced by Ted Raimi. Was that Salmoneus in the village when Herc lifted the roof and some chubby guy walked out wearing a toga ??? It looked like him. We finally get to see Hera in person. She looks like the evil stepmother person. This movie has nothing to do with the actual HTLJ/XWP storyline or series.
Not something to go crazy about or treasure. The best part was Lucys song and some of the fight sceens and the Iolaus/Aphordite interaction. It was not that bad but was not so great. The "Young Hercules" preview was perhaps the real highlight of this feature. It gets 4 out of 5 stars but I would not suggest buying it inless your a Herc/Xena hardcore nutball fan. Rent it and watch it and whatever. It is for the whole family.
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