Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is back on the big screen - for the fourth time this year - in Fast & Furious 6, where he reprises his Fast Five role as the relentless federal agent Luke Hobbs. The film, in an ironic twist, sees Johnson as the rule-abiding officer join forces with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his rowdy band of vehicle-racing outlaws - leaving open the door for future adventures, where Dom and Hobbs work together.
The Rock is supposed to make an appearance in next summer's Fast & Furious 7, but his on-screen time may (or may not) end up being significantly reduced. That would be a direct result of Johnson's commitment to starring in Hercules, which director Brett Ratner - of the Rush Hour trilogy and X-Men: The Last Stand fame (or infamy, take your pick) - has just started filming in Budapest, Hungary.
Here is the official synopsis for Hercules:
Everyone knows the legend of Hercules and his twelve labors. Our story begins after the labors, and after the legend…
Haunted by a sin from his past, Hercules has become a mercenary. Along with five faithful companions, he travels ancient Greece selling his services for gold and using his legendary reputation to intimidate enemies. But when the benevolent ruler of Thrace and his daughter seek Hercules' help to defeat a savage and terrifying warlord, Hercules finds that in order for good to triumph and justice to prevail... he must again become the hero he once was... he must embrace his own myth... he must be Hercules.
Hercules is based on the Radical Studios graphic novel "Hercules: The Thracian Wars" by Steve Moore and Admira Wijaya. Radical Studios President Barry Levine is a producer and Executive VP Jesse Berger is an executive producer on the film. (The duo's most recent movie credit is the Tom Cruise sci-fi tentpole Oblivion.)
Moore and Wijaya's source material was adapted into a script by two screenwriters who are looking to prove their mettle: Ryan Condal, who worked on director Alex Proyas' abandoned Paradise Lost adaptation, and Evan Spiliotopoulos, a writer who has worked his way up the food chain - by providing script material for several Disney direct-to-DVD animated features (The Lion King 1.5, Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, etc.) - and penned an early script draft for Wanted 2, which (last we heard) is now being restructured.
Both Ratner's Hercules and Die Hard 2 director Renny Harlin's Hercules 3D look to reach theaters in 2014, and will offer revisionist takes on the traditional mythology by dropping the supernatural elements that are inherent to the story and titular character. The central difference (on a narrative level) will lie with how old the 'Son of Zeus' is in these respective swords-and-sandals movies. Johnson, as the official synopsis for Ratner's film reveals, is portraying a world-weary version of the mighty warrior, who has the chance to seek redemption for "a sin from his past"; by comparison, Hercules 3D star Kellan Lutz (Immortals) is playing a younger version of Hercules, who has only begun to form his adult identity.
The supporting cast for Hercules has its fair share of seasoned acting veterans, like Ian McShane (Jack the Giant Slayer), John Hurt (Doctor Who) and Peter Mullan (War Horse). Meanwhile, the younger players - relatively speaking - include Joseph Fiennes (American Horror Story: Asylum), Rufus Sewell (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), Rebecca Ferguson (The White Queen), Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters), Aksel Hennie (Headhunters) and Reece Ritchie (The Lovely Bones).
So, how about it, which Hercules movie adaptation sounds better (the key word here being better): the one featuring Johnson - and a respectable collection of older gentlemen - as morally-ambiguous warriors for hire? Or the one with '3D' in the title, starring Lutz as a fresher-faced version of the Hercules character, who's still finding his footing?
Hercules is slated to open in U.S. theaters on July 25th, 2014.
Source: MGM and Paramount Pictures