Hercules and Xena – The Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount Olympus
|Directed by||Lynne Naylor|
|Written by||John Loy|
|Music by||Joseph LoDuca|
|Distributed by||Universal Studios Home Video|
Hercules and Xena – The Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount Olympus is a 1998 American animated action-adventure direct-to-video film starring the voices of Kevin Sorbo, Lucy Lawless, Michael Hurst, Renee O'Connor, Kevin Smith, and Alexandra Tydings, all reprising their roles from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. It was directed by Lynne Naylor and written by John Loy. It later received a television airing on Fox's Fox Kids block.
Long after Zeus stole the Cronus Stone from the Titans, he and Alcmene gave birth to a son named Hercules, who defeated a Hydra at an early age and became a hero. After Hercules battles another Hydra, Iolaus joins him. Hercules and Iolaus head to Thebes to see Alcmene but Iolaus is upset because Hercules takes the credit. Meanwhile, Xena and Gabrielle steal the gold back from the satyrs. Ares tells Xena there is a trap set for Hercules at Thebes. Xena wants Hercules to go because Thebes needs his help. Xena, angered by Ares' intentions to take her, argues with Gabrielle.
Hercules and Iolaus are angered by Zeus abducting Alcmene to Mount Olympus. Iolaus and Hercules decide to rescue her. Ares reveals to Zeus that he wants Xena. Hera confronts Zeus before stealing the Cronus Stone, the stone that keeps the Titans in the Underworld lava pits. Hera summons the Titans out while Zeus checks on Alcmene, who has been shrunk and placed in a dollhouse castle for safety from Hera. Meanwhile, Aphrodite surfs down a mountain to Iolaus' happiness. Ignoring Aphrodite's warning, Hercules decides to go to Mount Olympus and Iolaus stays behind with Aphrodite. A boy falls into the lava pits, but is saved by Hercules and Iolaus. Xena and Gabrielle, in a nearby town, defeats three thugs. Hercules meets the Earth Titan Porphyrion as he emerges from the ground. Porphyrion tells Hercules that he can go free because he is not defending the gods. The Water Titan Tethys arises from the water as the Fire Titan Mnemosyne emerges from the volcano and the fat Wind Titan Crius materializes from a tornado right in front of Xena and Gabrielle. The Titans plan their revenge on the gods.
Zeus calls Artemis, Aphrodite, and Ares together to fight the Titans and they hope Hercules will help them. Xena and Gabrielle are helping wounded people and Artemis decides to get Xena's help and transforms Gabrielle into a bird. Xena flies on Gabrielle to the gods' home while Hercules climbs up. When Xena accuses Ares for what he did to Gabrielle, Artemis tells Xena the truth about his actions.
Hercules rescues Alcmene then leaves to fight the Titans. Hera transforms Ares, Aphrodite, Artemis and Zeus into a goat, a cow, a rabbit, and a mouse, respectively. The others are dismayed that Hercules did not help his mother. When Xena and Ioalus arrive, she confronts Artemis and learns that she cannot turn Gabrielle or herself back due to the loss of the Gods' powers. Hercules finds out that Alcmene was sick and Zeus offered her immortality with him on Mount Olympus. Hercules is still angry at Zeus for abducting Alcmene in the first place.
Hera scolds the Titans for wrecking Mount Olympus when they discuss the deaths of the gods. On Earth, Xena and Hercules reconcile and agree to help the gods get their home and Cronus Stone back. Hera uses the Cronus Stone to strengthen the Titans but she fails to force her will on the Titans. The Titans strip the stone away from Hera and shrink her into the dollhouse. Alcmene has returned to her original form. The heroes ride Gabrielle to the mountain and fight the Titans. Hercules gets the Cronus Stone and tears it apart which causes the Underworld caverns to open. Hercules and Xena flip Crius into the lava and Iolaus gets Tethys and Mnemosyne to collide and dissolve into the fiery pits Porphyrion grabs Hercules, but is pulled into the air by Gabrielle. Gabrielle drops the Titan into the cavern and Hercules nearly falls to his death. However, Gabrielle saves Hercules, and drops him off on the gods' mountain in time to close the stone, locking the Titans in their prison of lava.
Zeus and Alcmene go back to Olympus and Zeus welcomes Hercules to visit. Artemis turns Gabrielle back to her original form. Hercules heads off with Iolaus, Gabrielle, and Xena to Corinth to return a bag of gold and seek another adventure.
- Kevin Sorbo as Hercules
- Lucy Lawless as Xena
- Michael Hurst as Iolaus
- Renee O'Connor as Gabrielle
- Alexandra Tydings as Aphrodite
- Kevin Smith as Ares
- Josephine Davison as Alcmene and Artemis
- Joy Watson as Hera
- Peter Rowley as Zeus
- David Mackie as Porphyrion
- Alison Wall as Tethys and Mnemosyne
- Ted Raimi as Crius
- George Ball as Porphyrion (singing voice)
- Roger Freeland as Crius (singing voice)
- Amanda McBroom as Mnemosyne (singing voice)
- B.J. Ward as Tethys (singing voice)
The film was a joint production between U.S. and Korean Universal Cartoon Studios. Lynne Naylor, who worked at Filmation, Hanna-Barbera, Marvel, Spumco, and Warner Bros. was hired to direct the film. The script was written by John P. Loy, who wrote numerous scripts for animated television series such as Porchlight Entertainment's Adventures from the Book of Virtues and Warner Bros.' Pinky and the Brain before entering a multi-year deal with Universal Cartoon Studios to write, develop and produce animated projects. Originally slated for a mid-October release, the film was pushed back to January. "We want the finished product to be of the finest quality," said Louis Feola, President of Universal Home Video. "As often happens with an animated feature, more time was needed to complete the film."
While production continued on the film, a Hercules and Xena road tour was scheduled around the U.S., featuring a traveling exhibit of memorabilia from the live-action shows, previews of the upcoming Nintendo 64 game, and an inside look at the production of the animated movie
The film features three songs, "Across the Sea of Time", "Titan's Song", and "Xena's Song", written by Michele Brourman and Amanda McBroom. Tom McGrath served as a domestic key animator in the film, while Chris Mitchell co-directed the animation overseas at Koko Enterprises in South Korea
Release and Reception
The movie was released in the United States on VHS on the 5th January 1998 for $19.98 and on DVD on the 28th of February 1998. The movie was included in the DVD box set "Hercules Action Pack" along with "The Xena Trilogy", "Young Hercules (film)" and "Hercules and the Amazon Women & Lost Kingdom" . The original VHS release featured a trailer for the then-upcoming Young Hercules film.
Upon release, the movie received a mixed reception from critics. Peter Cook writing for SF Gate said "Though steeped in pop-style Greek myth, the video has a '90s attitude. Aphrodite rides what looks like a snowboard and laces her speech with ditzy Valley-Girl phrases."
Randy Myers Knight-Ridder for The Spokesman gave another positive review saying "All of the mayhem and god blustering is executed with a light, calculated touch. While it can't compare to the two syndicated series, Universal's "The Animated Movie" is an entertaining bit of fluff for young fans. And it's certainly better than the lumbering, gaudy "Hercules" film that Disney tried to foist off on children last summer."
Marc Bernardin writing for EW gave the film a D rating on a scale of A–F. Referring to the limited animation, he wrote "It's all suitably legendary, but why must the animated movie hark back to Hanna-Barbera in the paint-by-numbers Speed Buggy years? Even its greatest strength—the assured voice work of Kevin Sorbo and Lucy Lawless, reprising their TV roles—only reminds us of what's unforgivable about Olympus: It's not nearly as vivid a cartoon as the live-action series."
- Though featuring the same major characters and the (mostly) same cast, this movie is generally not considered canonical to Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. Some elements, however, later made their way into the live-action series, including:
- Mnemosyne's appearance in "Let There Be Light" is consistent with her appearance here.
- The Kronos stone, mentioned in earlier productions as simply a time-travel device, is confirmed in "The Prize" and later "Love, Amazon Style" to give gods "power greater than Zeus." This matches the ability of the stone as seen in this film.
- A clip of this movie was featured in "Yes, Virginia, There is a Hercules."
- Zeus' appearance in the film is based on Anthony Quinn's portrayal in the Universal Action Pack films.
- Though not identified as such, a character bearing a strong resemblance to Salmoneus makes a brief appearance.
- Xena references the events of "The Reckoning".
- Surprisingly, Hera appears in her human form. When the film was produced, Hera had yet to appear "in the flesh" on the series. She would, however, finally do so a few months after the film was released.
The story is inspired by the Gigantomachy, a war the Olympians fought with a race of beings called the Gigantes, or giants, whom Gaia created to get revenge on the Olympians for killing the Titans. Porphyrion was the leader of the giants, who could only be killed by gods and demigods working together – Heracles, unsurprisingly, was selected as the gods' primary champion. The original story featured many more than just five Olympians, with Athena and Hermes playing major roles – the Fates even took part, beating some of the giants with bronze clubs. Unlike what’s seen in the movie, Hera was not on the Giants' side but was actually the field commander of the Olympians, as Zeus' thunderbolts were needed as heavy artillery.
- Lenburg, Jeff (2009). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons (3rd ed.). New York: Checkmark Books. p. 317. ISBN 978-0-8160-6600-1.
- "Animation To Go: New Home Video Releases". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2020-04-24.
- . ISBN 0783225806. Missing or empty
- Stack, Peter; Critic, Chronicle Staff (1998-01-16). "FILM REVIEW -- Xena and Hercules Team Up / TV heroes rumble in cartoon feature". SFGate. Retrieved 2020-04-24.
- "Warrior Xena Outshines Hercules In New Animation Tale | The Spokesman-Review". www.spokesman.com. Retrieved 2020-04-24.
- "HERCULES & XENA THE ANIMATED MOVIE: THE BATTLE FOR MOUNT OLYMPUS". EW.com. Retrieved 2020-04-24.