Release Date: June 21, 2017
Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Ken Nolan, Akiva Goldsman
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock, Santiago Cabrera, Isabela Moner, Jerrod Carmichael, Stanley Tucci, Liam Garrigan, Martin McCreadie, Rob Witcomb, Marcus Fraser, John Hollingworth, Daniel Adegboyega,
Ben Webb, Glenn Morshower, Gemma Chan, John Turturro, Tony Hale, Claude Knowlton, Jacob Zachar, Maggie Steed, Sara Stewart, Phoebe Nicholis
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 149 minutes
Production Company: Di Bonaventura Pictures, Hasbro, Huahua Media, Ian Bryce Productions, Paramount Pictures, Tom DeSanto/Don Murphy Production
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
With this being the fifth installment in the Transformers franchise, you’d probably think you’ve seen it all. That’s not meant for the better, as in a captivating script praised for its detail or some new technical achievement that will change the game of filmmaking. That’s meant for the studio’s bold approach of not caring about any cohesiveness and rubbing it in your face. This time Paramount Pictures insisted on going bigger, badder, and louder, throwing so much at the screen you can’t comprehend it. It’s a shame to see what was once beautiful be turned into a noncoherent bag of destruction that needs to be taken out to die, because the first film was a near masterpiece of sorts. Now these films insult your intelligence by urinating all over you, then disrespect you further by calling it rain. Film after film fans in the film community comment on what they want to see in a Transformers movie, but they are constantly ignored. While the studio consistently focuses on the unimportant things and leaves the transforming robots second fiddle to everything else.
Is it that hard to find characters that an average person could attach to? To request any realistic properties regarding a Transformers movie is a stretch, but realistic characters still isn’t too much to ask for. Yet director Michael Bay still decides to choose certain humans to focus on that do nothing but ignore logic and make jokes out of every situation. I get that the cat is already out of the bag, and in this world Transformers are no longer a secret, but these majestic machines have been reduced down in part to not more than oversized can openers who serve as junkyard guard dogs that you can negotiate with. Jimmy (Jerrod Carmichael) and Izabella (Isabela Moner) are the two new comers in this film, which should’ve been left on the cutting room floor. Whether Jimmy is drinking water or running for his life, he somehow has a way to throw lame dry humor in to try to lighten the situation. This decision only brings the film down by taking any surrounding threat away. How can the audience member be at the edge of their seat in anticipation about what’s going to happen next if he’s joking all the time? Then on another note, where the film tries to embrace female empowerment with Izabella, it’s forced and over the top. We all want brave women in film to take on roles more than being one that needs to be saved, but it needs to fit within a realistic sense of context. Having a teenager run up on five decepticons to prove how tough she is only does a few things, annoy the audience and put everyone around her in danger. At no time did her character follow instructions, and her involvement only worsened the plan of action everyone else was on board with. Not to mention that even in the final showdown these two characters still pop up in the middle of the war zone with nothing to offer us but unwanted screen time. Even if they were to pick up a weapon (which they didn’t) their lack of training would put them in their place, but again Michael Bay doesn’t like to think things through. Cade Yeagar (Mark Wahlberg) is back and offers a decent relationship with the autoboots, but his connections to the lore of transformers is reaching. The involvement of Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) had no real merit, his overall importance still being confusing. Laura Haddock (Vivian Wembley) is fine, but it’s hard to believe the role she was trying to fulfill, though she and Cade are the so-called chosen ones.
A better name for this film would’ve been “Transformers: Searching for another McGuffin.” That’s all these films are over and over again. The first film was the All spark, then the Matrix of Leadership, and then the Seed of Life. With each new special McGuffin it just takes away the importance of the last, until there is no importance anymore. There are too many objects with ultimate power, and you can’t tell which is which and why. With this form of storytelling, the deeper they go into the mythos of Transformers the more convoluted it becomes. There seems to be seven or more different origin stories, and the writing team ignores all that came before.
Bay is also known for being the King of IMAX, and I will attest to that. That’s one of the best features in all his films, him knowing exactly how to frame a shot with perfection. Most people go to see these films for the technological achievements, and Bay doesn’t disappoint there. He’s always coming up with some new shot or effect, and what he did with a time machine bomb in this chapter was ace, so credit there. Though if everything around such techniques is stale chips, that euphoric feeling of excitement will only last for so long.
The overall story is the most insulting. Trying to weave in Transformers history with world history from the past was daring, but it not only brings this film down, but all five up to this point. On multiple occasions in past films the world was near its end, but the ancient knowledge of Transformers wasn’t used. “Why?” is the largest question, but it is never addressed. So know going forward, if more films are to arise little will be thought of as far as connective tissue with the story from past work. The lack of effort just goes to show these films are here to make money alone, while possessing zero entertainment value. Then to make matters worse, human and decepticon characters switch allegiances more times than there are letters in the alphabet. If one would listen it would’ve been best to work together towards the beginning of the film, but the script wasted so much time stretching the runtime to an unnecessary 149 minutes.
Though besides the technical achievements mentioned above, most want that heart pounding action as Optimus Prime rides through with his sword of justice taking names. It would be nice if this happened. Once it does it’s far too brief, and when more mayhem comes you can’t make out who is who. Just a ton of people firing shots into the air with me not knowing where their aim lies. The fact that the world is also relying on only the Transformers to save the day is appalling too. This world is full of Nuclear weapons. So instead of using them, or attempting to use them, to blow a dead planet out of space before it devours earth is ignored as well. In the last Transformers film, a few elements were thrown at you which were detestable in regards to logic. You could pick them apart piece by piece. In The Last Knight, so much is thrown at you simultaneously before you can conclude on how it doesn’t make sense seven more plot holes fill the room with an odor smellier that Transformers poop. Organic materials as such wouldn’t add up within a Transformers build up, but this film is full of similar silly antics.
Transformers: The Last Knight isn’t the worst in the franchise, but it certainly isn’t the best. It fails at an execution aspect, but also on focusing on what real fans and audience members want to see; intelligent sentient robots that do more than hide in disguise, that have real morals and passion. After five films, this element still hasn’t been reached, which makes the films a laughable mess designed only for children. For so much potential to be had with this property, it’s a shame they aren’t taken more seriously. Just dumb fun that’s too dumb to be recognized as dumb fun. Movie goers aren’t asking for the world, we (myself included) just want a solid story with a plot that has a logical through line. Yet for some reason Michael Bay is allergic to plot within the action, and that waters down all of his movie magic when it appears to pop on screen. There’s no hope left for the Transformers films at this point, as they continue to make the same mistakes repeatedly, but the absence of Bay could turn it all back around.