Exclusive: Renny Harlin Talks Hercules

'It's Gladiator meets Clash Of The Titans'

Facing off against each other next year like two protein-powered colossi are Renny Harlin and Brett Ratner. Both are Hollywood veterans with blockbustery résumés. Both have Hercules films in production. Both are promising gritty, battle-strewn pec-taculars... one with Kellan Lutz; the other, Dwayne Johnson. And, as the trailer man might say, only one can prevail.

With the former, Hercules 3D, freshly wrapped, we sent an owl to Camp Harlin to get the low-down on what the Cliffhanger man has planned. "We're somewhere between Gladiator and Clash Of The Titans", explained Harlin from his editing suite. "Ours is definitely based on the mythology of Hercules, but we don't have monsters and flying horses and things like that."

There's bad news not just for Pegasus fans but for anyone eager to see an Erymanthian boar, Nemean lion or Cretan bull, because, explains Harlin, Hercules 3D will predate his 12 Labours. "Our story is the young Hercules, so I would say that the sequel will probably dive into the Labours. As you know, in the mythology Hercules ended up killing his wife and children, and as atonement he got the 12 Labours. So we definitely reference them as a future thing, but he doesn’t go through them because he’s just starting his journey."

So this is the story of Hercules killing his wife and children, then? Thankfully, it's not that either. "It's an origin story about how a young man comes to terms with learning he’s the son of Zeus", says Harlin, "and how he deals with the destiny that he has".

The younger Kellan Lutz, then, will have the growing pains to deal with, while His Rockness, we suspect, will be the one meting out the pain in the Ratner take, Hercules: The Thracian Wars. Both will require you to check your preconceptions. "It’s definitely a very different look at Hercules," stresses Harlin. "I really wanted to bring in all those mythological elements, so that people can Google the names of characters and places and learn more about them."

Hercules 3D arrives on August 1, 2014. Harlin's next film, The Dyatlov Pass Incident, arrives on August 23 of this year.