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'Transformers: Age of Extinction' vs 'Hercules': In Defense of Cheese

By Rebecca Pahle | Eloquent Eloquence | July 29, 2014 |

By Rebecca Pahle | Eloquent Eloquence | July 29, 2014 |

I saw Hercules last weekend. I know, I know. Brett Ratner movie. But Dustin liked it, and, well, The Rock throwing a horse. What’s not to love about The Rock throwing a horse? Nothing.

There is a lot not to love about Hercules, however. I came out of that movie thinking something I never could have imagined I’d ever think about a movie: “That needed to be more like Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

The problem with Hercules is that it wasn’t goofy enough. Dustin, in his review, disagrees, and that’s OK—I’m just going to have to drive by his house and pelt his car with blocks of half-melted Velveeta. Personally, I found the movie dull, even its action scenes lacking in energy 80% of the time.

One minute you get The Rock throwing a horse. The next you get Rufus Sewell throwing his knives or Ingrid Bolsø Berdal hitting someone with her bow for the dozenth time. As a Vikings fan, I never thought I’d say this, but Hercules made shield walls boring. Where were my gigantic action set pieces? My The Raid 2 hammer fight or Fast Five chase scene where they’re dragging a giant safe?

Transformers: Age of Extinction, for all that it was awful (and it was—Hercules, in just about every respect aside from special effects, is objectively the better-made film), was vastly more entertaining than this muscle-bound, tepid hulk of a film. And I’d rather watch a train wreck than a snoozefest any day of the week. So fucking sue me.

There’s a reason, after all, that Dungeons & Dragons is rightly considered the classic that it absolutely is. The debate over “good” film vs “enjoyable” film, and whether that distinction even means anything, is practically as old as the medium itself, and I’m not here to come down firmly on either side. Age of Extinction was awful. I’m glad I didn’t pay for it. But would I plunk down money for a remastered, IMAX screening of The Beastmaster? Hell. Yes.

Am I supporting bad film by wishing that Hercules had slid down toward the Transformers end of the scale? That it have dialogue that’s actively stupid instead of inoffensive and unmemorable? That its characters be worth of my concern, if only because I want to punch them in the teeth? Yeah, maybe.

An extra layer is added to this nacho dip of goopy sadness by the fact that the Transformers franchise is very much still a powerful force in the entertainment industry. Buy your ticket ironically or unironically, Hollywood doesn’t care—they’re still getting your money, and they’re putting it into ill-conceived sequels that could have been written by platypi hopped up on acid. We’re never getting another Dungeons & Dragons movie unless Jeremy Irons gets really desperate for cash and channels all of his rage into making it happen.

We can dream.