Welcome to 90 from the ‘90s; the movie-related post in which I watch, discuss and debate a film from the 1990s – a film that I’ve NEVER SEEN. Posting on a semi-regular basis, I aim to work my way through 90 movies that I’ve previously missed/avoided, recording my thoughts along the way.

I’m going to watch good films, bad films, forgotten classics, Oscar winners and everything in between. Some of these films you’ll be surprised I’ve never seen, others you’ll completely understand why I’ve avoided them for 20+ years.

The rules are as follows:

  • The film must be from the 1990s (1990-1999)
  • The film must be a movie I’ve not watched before

Today’s unseen ‘90s movie is…

Hercules and Xena: The Animated Movie – The Battle for Mount Olympus (1998)

Wow – what a mouthful that title is! I’ve abbreviated it slightly in the heading of this post, but here it is in its full glory: Hercules and Xena: The Animated Movie – The Battle for Mount Olympus.

Maybe it’s just the editor in me, but from a marketing point of view surely you’d abbreviate the title to Hercules & Xena: The Animated Movie or Hercules & Xena: Battle for Mount Olympus?! Heck, I’ve even changed the ‘and’ for an ampersand, to keep things even shorter.

Does this not bother anyone else?

No?

Oh – it’s just me?

I see.

Anyway, I guess I’m not here to talk about the title of the movie, but rather the movie itself which is of course the Hercules & Xena animated film – a spin-off of the live-action Hercules/Xena shows of the 1990s.

I AM VERY EXCITED TO WATCH THIS MOVIE.

Back during the 1990s I was a big fan of Xena: Warrior Princess and would regularly watch the show on TV. As well as following the series on television, I had a subscription to the official Xena magazine, I owned VHS boxsets of all the seasons and moving into the early ’00s I upgraded those boxsets for a complete DVD collection.

I won’t tell you how much I paid for that DVD boxset, but let’s just say back during the early ’00s DVD boxsets were rather expensive… and this one was a limited edition release.

So yes, in short I loved Xena.

It might seem rather odd then that I have never watched the Hercules & Xena animated movie. Truth be told, I’m as perplexed about it as you are!

I guess the reason I’ve never seen this movie is because it was hard to come by. I worked in a video rental store for three years, shortly after its release, and we didn’t stock it – neither did any of our competitors. 

I don’t recall the movie ever popping up on TV – if it did, I missed it – and I can’t say I’ve ever come across a DVD or Blu-ray copy in the UK. In fact, I’ve just done a quick search on Amazon and the only copy of the movie currently available is a Region 1 DVD from the US.

So, while I was aware of this movie at the time of its release, it was difficult to track down. Over the past 20 years I’ve simply forgotten about it.

As for what I know about the film, well my understanding is that this is an animated musical which combines the two shows: Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. The movie features the vocal talents of Kevin Sorbo, Lucy Lawless, Michael Hurst, Renee O’Connor, Kevin Smith and Alexandra Tydings – the main players from both shows.

Right, enough rambling – it’s time to watch the movie!

*Grabs popcorn*

*Clicks the play button*

4mins 30secs – Hercules v a giant sea monster. I think I know who will win this battle.

5mins – Who did the animation for this movie? It has a Ren & Stimpy vibe to it.  

9mins 30secs – Xena is such a bad ass.

11mins – Ares is up to no good. Standard Ares then.

11mins 30secs – Kevin Smith – the voice actor for Ares – is sadly missed. The actor passed away less than a year after Xena: Warrior Princess finished airing. 

15mins – For those who don’t remember, the Hercules & Xena shows were quite popular in their day and this movie wasn’t the only spin-off. You’ve probably forgotten, but there was also a short-lived series called Young Hercules which ran between 1998 and 1999. The actor who played Hercules was none other than Ryan Gosling!

19mins – This movie is very, very cheap. It’s less like a movie and more like a really long episode of a TV show – back when TV shows were produced on a shoestring budget. The character designs are fine, but the backgrounds are bland.

23mins – In keeping with the parent shows, the action scenes in this movie are preposterous. I love preposterous action scenes. 

30mins – The premise of this movie is as follows: The Titans want revenge against the Gods, who imprisoned them in Tartarus. Xena and Hercules get caught up in the squabble. And that’s pretty much it.

34mins – Gabrielle has just been turned into a giant eagle.

34mins 30secs – Xena is riding Gabrielle. Insert your own jokes, folks!

39mins – I may have overestimated the ‘musical’ aspect of this movie. With the exception of a tune during the opening sequence, there’s no other songs – what gives?

41mins – There’s plenty of action in this film, but the story is paper thin. 

45mins – “It ain’t over ’til it’s over, big boy.”

46mins – Ares has been turned into a goat. I’m not KID-ding. 😉

50mins – And now for a song. The Titans are performing a musical number, which 50 minutes into the movie seems a little out of place – the film will be over in about 20 minutes, so why turn it into a musical now?! Did an earlier song get cut?

54mins 30secs – And now another song. Bloody hell, these songs are like buses – you wait all day for one and two turn up at once!

55mins – This song – sung by Lucy Lawless – is much better than the previous one. Lawless has a great voice and the song is stronger.

1hr 8mins – Hercules and Xena are saving the day. Was there ever any doubt?

*Clicks stop*

Erm… well, that was a bit disappointing. 

The story and the direction were all flat and it was clear that no money was spent on this production. The songs were also out of place in what was essentially an action film.

Such a shame – the character designs were great and this style of animation would have worked really well as a series of Xena/Hercules shorts in the vein of Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars show from the early ’00s. Should Universal ever decide to revive Xena/Hercules as a cartoon show (complete with original cast members), the studio should keep these character designs but actually invest some money into the project!

After twenty years of waiting, my only reaction to this film can be… ‘meh’.

For past entries in the 90 from the ’90s series, check out: Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story (1993)Highlander II: The Quickening (1991)F/X2: The Deadly Art of Illusion (1991)Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999)Showgirls (1995)American History X (1998)North (1994)Jack Frost (1998)Psycho (1998)A League of Their Own (1992)Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)Patch Adams (1998)My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)You’ve Got Mail (1998)Sleepless in Seattle (1993)Graveyard Shift (1990)Johnny Mnemonic (1995)Striptease (1996) Indecent Proposal (1993)My Girl 2 (1994)The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)Poison Ivy (1996)Body of Evidence (1993)Turbulence (1997)Fatal Instinct (1993)True Romance (1993)Newsies (1992)Contact (1997)The Pelican Brief (1993)Natural Born Killers (1994)Shakespeare in Love (1998)A Perfect Murder (1998)Quigley Down Under (1990)Of Mice and Men (1992),Friday (1995)Mannequin on the Move (1991)She’s All That (1999)Double Dragon (1994)Stay Tuned (1992)Murder at 1600 (1997),Weekend at Bernie’s II (1993)My Own Private Idaho (1991)Wagons East (1994)In the Line of Fire (1993)Postcards from the Edge (1990)Universal Soldier (1992)Passenger 57 (1992)Mo’ Better Blues (1990)The Client (1994)Good Will Hunting (1997)Pump Up the Volume (1990)Mr. Nanny (1993) Fargo (1996)Hudson Hawk (1991)So I Married An Axe Murderer (1993) and Timecop (1994).