This review contains SPOILERS for Transformers: The Last Knight. Viewer discretion is advised.
Were you ever in a romantic relationship that started off really well but then turned into complete crap? So you break up with the person but because of the memories of those wonderful early good days you get back together against your better judgment? And then, surprise surprise, it turns into complete crap again?
This precisely describes the viewing relationship with the Transformers franchise. The original was great, the second was a mess, the third was a bit better but still not solid, and the fourth was a bloated mess. With the fifth film, The Last Knight, there was still some hope that we would get another Transformers movie of the caliber of the fun original. Dear readers, abandon all hope ye who view this film. Here is my review in four easy to chew slices:
#1 Plot Schmott
The latest Transformers film, again directed by Michael “Boom Boom” Bay, picks up directly from the last one with lead Autobot Optimus Prime in space searching for his creators. He finds Quintessa (a nod to the Quintessons from the animated series) on a ruined Cybertron and she tells him that to restore their home world they must destroy Earth, which is really Unicron, the planet-sized Transformer in the 1986 animated movie. Meanwhile back on Earth the US military is hunting all Transformers while the hero from the last film, failed inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) struggles to protect the Autobots. And also meanwhile astronomer and historian Sir Edmund Burton (Sir Anthony Hopkins) is part of a secret society called the Witwiccans and is searching for the staff of Merlin.
If that sounds like a confusing mess that is because it is. All these plot points converge clumsily and it feels like three movies in one, and none of them good. I had been waiting for them to do Unicron in the franchise for years but to make him secretly Earth felt dumb and it was mostly set up for the next film. The soldiers hunting Transformers could have been interesting but it is not explored well and they are really just there to add action sequences. Adding the historical, National Treasure plot line was the bolt that broke the Autobot’s back. And, like the third film Dark of the Moon, we have Cybertron returning to Earth again though for some reason a giant planet causes no weather disturbance whatsoever. I know it is a science fiction film but you do have to explain some things dear script writers.
#2 Puny humans
These movies are supposed to be a loud, fun popcorn affairs so you don’t go in expecting Oscar-worthy performances. But in this film the acting and dialogue was even bad by Transformers standards. Wahlberg alternates between looking confused and trying to make quips. Hopkins has a few moments of wit but he is reduced to shouting “shut up” and giving long, drawn out exposition. And his death scene where he shoots at Megatron and is then immediately killed was dumb squared. This was definitely not a role befitting the talents of the Academy Award winner. John Turturro’s ex-agent Simmons is also shoe horned in for some reason.
In terms of the ladies Laura Haddock’s English Professor is supposed to be smart but she is just there for the eye candy, a Bay trope. Isabela Moner’s streetwise tomboy serves no purpose in the movie other being someone for Cade to protect at the start and then at the end. Josh Duhamel returns as US soldier William Lennox but he looks bored and has little to no impact on the story. Everyone else in this film is forgettable and sadly we spent most of the run time with these dull-as-watching-paint-dry characters rather than watching sweet Transformer on Transformer action. The only bright spot is Stanley Tucci’s alcoholic Merlin but this is in the first five minutes and it is all downhill from there.
#3 Paging Optimus Prime
If there is one thing that you can actually enjoy in a Transformers movie is the titular robots in disguise. Sadly The Last Knight even fails in that regard. We have a huge roster of Autobots, Decepticons, knight Transformers and Quintessa’s bodyguard(s) but 90 per cent of them do nothing of consequence. At some points it felt like the movie forget about them as well. Megatron is barely in the movie and most of his Decepticons are mowed down quickly which makes their Suicide Squad introductions all the more useless. The US military recruiting the Decepticons to try and stop the Autobots feels and looks stupid. And how was Megatron resurrected? And where the heck is Galvatron from the last movie? The script writers forgot about him but I certainly did not.
Moving on to the good guys the most awesome Autobot ever Optimus Prime has little screen time. His turning evil, which was the big pitch in the trailers, is resolved in a flash. Bumblebee now inexplicably has the ability to reassemble his limbs and his back story of being in World War II makes no sense and, worse yet, does nothing to push the plot forward. The battle between Optimus and Bumblebee is okay but not the epic showdown we were promised. And Bumblebee starts speaking properly again for no particular reason. There is suspension of disbelief and then there is insulting the audience’s intelligence. This is the latter.
The knight Transformers that transform into a three headed dragon look cool but again, they don’t really do anything other than look cool. The Dinobots, including random mini Dinobots, are also stuck in there for no good reason other than to sell toys. And the cool Hot Rod from the animated movie speaks with a French accent. I hate you Michael Bay.
#4 Painful two and a half hours
I saw this movie with my wife and she fell asleep for about a third of it’s two hours and 29 minute run time. After she awoke she asked how much longer until it ended. That is not exactly a rousing review. And the sad thing is she wanted to see the movie.
On the positive side the special effects look good but it is not anything that we have not seen before. Some of the sound editing is also okay. But the humour is sophomoric and misses more than it hits. The Transformer sociopath butler Cogman is supposed to be funny but he just grates on the nerves. Many scenes, like the drone attack, the car chase and the submarine segment, seem just there to fill up the run time. Age of Extinction may have been a bloated mess but at least there were a couple of things to like. The Last Knight is a protracted, hollow, waste of a movie that belongs in a scrap heap. The Transformers and Transformers fans, some of whom will still love this movie like a no good ex, deserve better.
Rating: Transformers: The Last Knight gets 1.25/4 annoying robot man servants
So what did you think of The Last Knight? Feel free to agree with/berate me in the comments. And for my ranking of the five previous Transformers films you can click here.