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Brett Ratner in talks for HERCULES, and why he should study Ray Harryhausen

I love Greek mythology almost as much as I love superhero mythology, so I guess it's kinda fun to think that every studio in town is now working on some kind of 'swords, monsters and sandals epic' having previously dismissed the genre for decades. At least until Peter Jackson changed everything anyway. With every passing announcement though, I dread their 'quick-buck' intentions. Both Disney's flaccid Prince of Persia video game adaptation this year and WB's remake of Clash of the Titans committed the unforgivable sins of forgetting about character - both in terms of the humans, the creatures and their performances. I hope I speak for everyone (for the sake of future films) when I say I found both incredibly dull, sad and underwhelming. On my visit to England's capital last week, I took a few hours out to visit the Ray Harryhausen exhibition at the London Film Museum that is running until the end of the year and celebrates Harryhausen's 90 years on this Earth. During my walk around Harryhausen's cave of wonderful toys (where many of the actual originals are on display), I found myself caught up in the emotional reactions all these epic models had on me as a child. The skeleton army from Jason and the Argonauts. The Medusa from Clash. It's difficult to put into words the feeling that going eyeball to eyeball with Medusa and being relieved that you weren't turned to stone - has on you. I highly recommend you catching the exhibition if you are a fan of these films. At the exhibition they continuously play some Harryhausen highlights on a loop and I found myself seduced again by the Medusa battle against Perseus from the original Clash of the Titans, just as I was when I was 7 years old. It's infinitely more scary, thrilling and spectacular than the recent Louis Letterier directed schlock and I sighed at the memory of how disinterested I was with the same scene in his remake. Of course as we already know a Clash sequel is already set to roll next February... On top of that; The Avengers writer Zak Penn has a Jason and the Argonauts re-imagining in development at 20th Century Fox that will likely gain momentum over the coming months. There's also the 300 prequel, Tarsem Singh's awesome sounding 'Caravaggio' inspired War of the Gods - as well as an adaptation of the popular video game God of War. I guess it won't be long until some bright spark has the idea of doing a Sinbad movie too. Some of them might be ok, but I'm worried the majority won't hold my interest because they simply won't carry the required the heart, the quality and the craftmanship of what Harryhausen was able to bring to dozens of movies back in the day. One forthcoming movie I'm certain hasn't got a chance is Millennium/New Image's attempt at a Hercules movie now that The L.A. Times reports that Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, X-Men 3) is in talks to direct. Ratner, modern cinema's shameless leech director has been desperate to get his hands on a swords and sandal epic for the past two years, briefly finding himself attached to Millennium/New Image's Conan (that's actually filming right now under Marcus Nispel's direction) and something that terrified us to the bottom of our souls - the video game adaptation of God of War, until MGM's financial problems killed it. Hercules has been in development at the studio for over three years, but recently picked up pace after the thematically similar Clash of the Titans earned almost half a billion at the global box office. Little is known about the project at this point other than it's likely to be based on Sean Hood's (Halloween: Resurrection, The Crow: Wicked Prayer) three year old draft and because of producer Avi Lerner's involvement - we guess it'll be similar to next year's Conan in actioner tone. Like another popular literary character in Tarzan (which is in development at Paramount), Hercules is probably due a big, live-action treatment having been absent from the screen since the mid 80's when, fittingly, Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno played him. Though since then there has been the somewhat lovable Disney version and that dreadful t.v. series. The mythological, larger-than-life demigod, for a reason I can't explained, has mostly found himself used as a somewhat cheesy, humorous character in his 85 character credits on IMDB. And perhaps it's with that tone in mind that Ratner has boarded this but we look at those Harryhausen pictures, and we look at the potential behind a Hercules movie, and we can't help but think there's something much more promising in this character than a movie Brett Ratner will make. If he has any sense he will watch this recent 40 minute BAFTA tribute to Harryhausen, as found by Brendon Connelly at Bleeding Cool (no embed link?) to see how material as rich as Hercules should be handled.

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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.