Paramount and MGM have been developing an adaptation of the comic Hercules: The Thracian Wars for awhile, with Brett Ratner to direct and Dwayne Johnson to star. All involved might have to rethink that project now that it's been revealed that Millennium, the studio behind The Expendables, has just greenlit a $70-million rival project titled Hercules 3D and are planning on putting it in theaters a full five months before Paramount and MGM can.
On paper it sounds like Hercules 3D is getting rushed into production just to beat the big studio version, and while that's undoubtedly the motivation behind the advanced timetable, that's not entirely true. Millennium had begun work on a Hercules movie years ago while its reboot of Conan the Barbarian was still filming. Sean Hood wrote the screenplay, but after Conan failed to perform at the box office, Millennium's trigger finger wasn't quite so itchy and the studio shelved the project. Now Millennium has dusted it off, Hanna Weg has joined Hood as a screenwriter, and Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, The Long Kiss Goodnight) is onboard to direct. And that's actually a good thing.
I happened to read Hood's Hercules draft and was thoroughly impressed by it. I have no idea how much has changed now that there's a second screenwriter credited, but the original was a brutal, believable take on Hercules. It wasn't a Clash of the Titans-esque fantasy, it was all about how a reluctant hero can become a myth. It's less a superhero origin story, and more a thoroughly violent tale of how one man can be pushed into a corner until the only way out involves seemingly inhuman fortitude that leaves heaps of dead people in his wake. It was, in a word, badass.
Of course, there's nothing to say that a Ratner and Rock version of Hercules won't also be badass, but it's a bit harder to believe it'll go to the R-rated lengths that Hercules 3D probably will. A big-studio Hercules movie is bound to appeal on a safe, broad level. Even if it doesn't go as full-blown fantasy as Titans, it'll surely feature the same balance of big-scale, but family-friendly action, and shoehorned comedic elements. It might be entertaining, but it'll certainly be a very, very different movie. Harlin may not be the most fan-friendly director on the planet, but he knows how to deliver an over-the-top action movie that's not afraid to earn an R-rating.
What do you think? Are you more interested in a Ratner and the Rock's Hercules? Or would you rather see a bloody, battle-torn version?
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