Last year, we got dual re-imaginings of the same fairy tale with Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman; in 2013, two Die Hard-esque thrillers that involve the U.S. president and Oval Office being captured by terrorists are hitting theaters (Antoine Fuqua's Olympus Has Fallen and Roland Emmerich's White House Down), and, next year, audiences have their pick of two different takes on ancient world warrior Hercules.
Brett Ratner is directing Hercules (drawing from the "Hercules: The Thracian Wars" comic book), with Dwayne Johnson starring and production beginning in the next few months for a Summer 2014 release date. Millennium is competing with that MGM-Paramount picture, by releasing the $70 million Hercules 3D five months earlier.
THR reports that Hercules 3D has been developing since 2007, with screenwriter Hanna Weg and Sean Hood (Conan the Barbarian) crafting a "revisionist tale of the classic Greek myth." Renny Harlin is directing, with casting for the film's leading roles - eight in total, including the title character - taking place over the next few months. Principal photography is scheduled to commence in Bulgaria this May, with a March 2014 target release date.
Harlin is a filmmaker who made his mark during the 1990s, delivering a variety of successful thrillers (Cliffhanger), popcorn sequels (Die Hard 2) and cult action titles of the decade (The Long Kiss Goodnight); he was also responsible for the infamous blockbuster flop Cutthroat Island and the 'camp classic' Deep Blue Sea. During the 2000s, he was down-graded to horror B-movie fare (Exorcist: The Beginning, The Covenant) and televisions series like Burn Notice and White Collar. In other words: Hercules 3D is a second chance for Harlin to demonstrate his tentpole picture directing chops (or absence thereof).
No surprise, Harlin's already talking about the differences between Hercules 3D and Ratner's project. The former, he says, is taking a relatively grounded and authentic approach to the Greek legend, rather than "a comic book, cartoony fantasy thing." He also points to the multiple Hercules movies that have come before, as evidence that his and Ratner's swords-and-sandals blockbusters may co-exist peacefully:
"I think these are very different kinds of movies in their approach to this legendary character. Obviously, Hercules has been portrayed in many different films, such as the Disney animated movie. I wish [Ratner] luck. Ancient Greek mythology is an endless source of good stories ... Let's see both movies be successful."
As far as comparisons of quality go: Ratner's Hercules has the casting of Johnson and acclaimed source material working in its advantage. Meanwhile, Hercules 3D seems more questionable based on the screenwriters involved; though, Harlin is a superior action filmmaker than Ratner (in my humble opinion, of course) and even his most artistically-bankrupt pictures - see: Cutthroat Island, which Harlin was essentially strong-armed into making - have entertainment value. Still, all things considered, Ratner's project has my vote for the time being.
How about it: does Hercules 3D sound better, worse, or equally interesting (or not interesting) as Ratner's Hercules? Let us know what you think in the comments section.