Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2009 by Peter Sciretta
Late last week, Warner Bros won a bidding war against Paramount Pictures to gain the rights to Jonathan Liebesman‘s Odysseus, a retelling of the story of the legendary Greek King and hero of Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey. After fighting in the Trojan Wars for 20 years, Odysseus returned home to find his kingdom under the brutal occupation. He is forced to single-handedly fight a battle against an invading force, in order to take back his wife, his son and his kingdom. Producer Gianni Nunnari came up with the story in a general meeting with Liebesman, who brought in screenwriter Ann Peacock who wrote the filmmaker’s Sundance Film Festival thriller The Killing Room.
Listen, I use to call Jonathan Liebesman a hack, His early film efforts left a lot to be desired. We’re talking about the guy who made Darkness Falls and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. However, my view of Liebesman changed completely after I screened The Killing Room at Sundance. You can tell Liebesman really tried with this film, and created a movie he wanted to see, instead of a movie the studio demanded. It was enough for me to completely forget his earlier horror efforts.
One of the reasons The Killing Room works is because of the tight minimalistic storytelling, on the screen and on the page. I haven’t read Odysseus, but I’ve talked to people who have. And they can’t say enough great things about the tight 90-page screenplay. THR says that the intent is not to make “a sleepy swords-and-sandles epic but a bloody relentless revenge movie,” like 300 meets Taken. Liebesman told FirstShowing that he wants the movie to be a very gritty, hand-held, hardcore revenge movie, comparing it to Rambo, “where one guy just kicks a lot of ass.”
Up next for Liebesman is the sci-fi action film Battle: Los Angeles, which is getting a fix up from Scott Silver before it goes into production. I heard the earlier draft was actually pretty bad, but offered some nice cinematic visuals.