Though his career is spottier than a leopard with chicken pox, I’d easily argue that Renny Harlin is a better director than fanboy dreamcrusher Zack Snyder. I’d take Die Hard 2 over Man of Steel any day. But I’m pretty sure Harlin needs to get his checkbook out and write a big fat one to Snyder for ripping off the central aesthetic and overall feel of 2006’s 300. At least, that’s how the trailer for Harlin’s Hercules: The Legend Begins makes the film look. And let me tell you something right now: Kellen Lutz is no Gerard Butler. I mean, sure he’s better in a romantic role, but not as one of the toughest badasses in fiction.
Now that we’ve got those initial thoughts out of the way, can I go on the shame-filled record to say that I’m actually quite interested in seeing this, and it probably has a lot to do with the 300 similarities. After a year of seeing multiple takeovers of the White House and different battles between humans and creatures, I’m rather looking forward to a movie where muscular men just beat the shit out of one another. If it all has to tie into a truncated origin story of Hercules, so be it.
Lutz stars as the titular half-god, son of Zeus, who is destined to overthrow the harsh rule of King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) and restore peace to the land. All the future hero wants is the undying love of Hebe (Gaia Weiss), Princess of Crete, who is betrothed to his brother. But then he finds out what his life is meant for, and must choose between running away with the lady or battling the evil King and his army. I’m guessing you know which way he takes this.
The slow motion shots during the fights scenes are a little ridiculous, but Hercules has a far wider scope than 300, which never looks like a movie that wasn’t filmed on green screens. Harlin uses his locations well, and the big battle scenes look like they’ll reach something that resembles exciting. And then there’s the lightning bolt sword, a weapon that should always be in every ancient hero’s arsenal.
There is really one specific moment in this trailer that nails down exactly what kind of film this will be, and it’s when a helmeted Lutz yells to his followers, "Tonight, we fight for our lives!" Not only is there a scene like this, but it incorporates one of the most boring rallying cries I can think of, and pales in comparison to Pacific Rim’s "We are cancelling the apocalypse!"
Hitting theaters January 10, 2014, this will no doubt be a good enough popcorn movie to gets us over the Hercules-free hump until July, when Brett Ratner’s Hercules comes out. Dwayne Johnson, now there’s a hero for you.
In case you forgot what 300 looked like, here’s an even bigger reminder than the above trailer.