Review: Transformers: The Last Knight

Review: Transformers: The Last Knight

Michael Bay hates us. Either this film is dumb or I am and I would not have begun this sentence that way if I wasn’t pretty sure which it is. Any number of sins have plagued this franchise—stale characters, lack of clear vision, ham-fisted dialogue, bloated runtimes and the list goes on. Transformers: The Last Knight has hundreds of millions of dollars of all of these things. That this viewing experience would be a net-negative for most is to be expected. That Michael Bay seemingly no longer cares to even attempt a coherent product, however, is a new low. With four people credited with the writing elements of the film, it comes across as a haphazard mishmash of loosely related ideas and storylines that appear and disappear in bizarre ways. Basically, this film is nonsense. 

Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

The opening scenes of the film provide a backstory involving the dark ages of England. King Arthur leads men into battle and they are eventually saved by a wizard named Merlin, who uses an alien staff given to him by the Knights of Cybertron. Said staff gives him the ability to command a three-headed dragon and help King Arthur win the battle.

Fast-forward to the present and Cade Yaeger (played by Mark Wahlberg) is still fixing up and advocating on behalf of Transformers. This entry into the franchise, however, introduces a new character, Izabella, who is essentially doing the same. When their paths cross, they eventually form a partnership and work to protect the Transformers who are on their side. 

Beyond that, Cade must work to protect Earth from the threats of Quintessa, whose planet is barreling toward Earth in apocalyptic fashion. With Optimus Primeturning on humankind, Earth faces a unique threat. Cade must work with various characters to act before it is too late. To do so, he must unlock the powers of the staff and stop Quintessa’s evil plans.

Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

That is one of the most painful summaries I have ever written. There are a million other elements that could be mentioned (the talisman, the weird horns cropping up in various locations on the Earth, the energy draining from one planet to the other John Turturro literally phoning in his character from Cuba, etc.), but it suffices to say that the film is just a jumbled mess.  Its storylines are so confusing that it is easy to wind up completely lost. For instance, the film goes after a Logan-like father-daughter relationship between Cade and Izabella. The problem is Izabella is written out of the story for the majority of the movie and no real attempt is ever made to show them connecting beyond the occasional exchange of a “bro.” Megatron pops up throughout the story for reasons that aren't exactly clear, Optimus Prime goes from good to bad to good, there’s a half-baked attempt at developing a backstory for Bumblebee (in preparation for his 2018 spinoff) and there is a weird side-plot involving paramilitary organizations and government loyalty. On top of these head scratchers, there are any number of other frayed plot points that left me feeling like the film had twenty-five writers and no director, which might just about be the case.

Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

The film is also jam-packed with nightmarish stylistic choices as well. From second-to-second switches in aspect ratio to scenes that feel like they were pieced together with shots from other movies, nothing here feels like it is meant to give us a complete final product. The immense talents of Sir Anthony Hopkins, Stanley Tucci, John Goodman and several other gifted actors are completely wasted in two and a half hours of some of the ugliest CGI and cartoonishly bad dialogue imaginable. And while Michael Bay films are never in the running for Oscars, they usually exhibit at least a hint that he cares what people think. Evidently that is no longer the case. Michael Bay hates us.

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