By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 3.5 out of 10
Imagine taking yourself back to high school. You’re in calculus class, but you forgot to do your chemistry homework. There’s an illusion that you have the washer method down pat, so you put your head down for 5-10 minutes to do your chemistry work, then you look back up to the whiteboard and realize that the teacher skipped ahead four steps, and you’re completely lost. Now imagine that feeling for three hours. Welcome to Transformers: The Last Knight. It’s loud, it’s pretty to look at and Mark Wahlberg tries his best, but Michael Bay’s newest movie fringes on the limits of self-parody, as there is no conceivable way that a human being can intentionally make something that is this thin, confusing and frankly, boring.
This is usually where I put the plot, but I honestly can’t tell you what happened onscreen. Decepticons are looking for Merlin’s wand to merge Cybertron to Earth again, Optimus Prime is a bad guy after meeting a space squid/robot called Quintessa, somehow Bumblebee was the catalyst of turning World War II towards the Allies, and Star Lord’s mom from Guardians of the Galaxy is a key role player. Things blow up. There you go.
One piece of The Last Knight that isn’t completely repulsive is how good the movie itself looks. Michael Bay spared no expense with the visuals, moving in the direction of utilizing IMAX cameras for the fifth installment of the 10-year old franchise. As a cinephile, the downside of this artistic choice is exemplified in a regular theater, where the aspect ratios constantly swap between the heightened aspect ratio of your standard IMAX film and the shortened widescreen commonly seen. This is particularly distracting during large-scale action sequences, where you will get five-to-seven minutes of IMAX-filmed chaos, followed by a two-second blast of widescreen magic. It simply takes the viewer out of the moment during the very few moments where something watchable is onscreen.
Now let’s get down to what makes this unwatchable. There is very little to like about this new installment to the franchise, which is immensely disappointing given the fact that the trailers showed so much potential. A storyline linking the Transformers to the Middle Ages is squandered, and the primary advertising piece showcasing Optimus Time turning into Nemesis Prime and creating havoc for our favorite Autobots is completely mishandled, which is something that we honestly should have seen coming. Optimus Prime has only been in 30-40 minutes of each three-hour Transformers epic, why ever would it alter course as we go into yet another pointless entry.
What we get instead of intriguing plot lines is three hours of overstuffed sub plot, including the return of Josh Duhamel as a half-spy half-soldier character working in another “Autobots Are Evil” syndicate that takes immense lapses of logic to even halfway justify the thought that Bumblebee could even be considered evil when put side-by-side to Megatron… who by the way is back, and not as Galvatron, which was a major plotline in Age of Extinction. He just shows up, and brings along a line of Decepticons, the names of which you won’t remember after they are introduced with a montage.
Wahlberg goes through the motions, Laura Haddock gets tossed into the traditional damsel-in-distress moniker of a Michael Bay film, and John Turturro is brought back into the fold for no reason. Where the film becomes ultimately laughable is when you consider the briefcases of money that Michael Bay had to spend in order to get Sir Anthony Hopkins on the casting list.
Hopkins plays Sir Edmund Burton, who unveils a slew of information about the history of the Transformers, but ultimately he is sent into a litany of chase sequences, cusses like a sailor and ultimately fades away into obscurity once the robot fists start to fly. Burton’s Autobot assistant Cogman, voiced by Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter, is the single most intriguing part of the movie, a sociopathic robot who has infinite similarities to C-3P0, but is actually partially tolerable, which helps push the movie along.
There is so much bad in this movie that it’s really difficult to pick any positive part, but the action sequences are moderately well done and the final battle actually has two moments that stick out as slight glimmers of hope, but they’re ultimately washed away by another wave of inadequacy, all of which lands with a big, world-ending clash at Stonehenge, because when Michael Bay is involved, nothing is sacred.
A post-credits scene unveils that there is a basic plot line in the queue for the sixth transformers, the first one without Michael Bay, but hopefully, unless renowned franchise-restarters J.J. Abrams or Justin Lin are at the helm, Paramount will just let this franchise flat line before any further, permanent damage is done to the reputation of 21st century cinema.
Just imagine if, 500 years in the future, the only film that future humanity finds and is therefore forced to base our civilization off of is The Last Knight. That would be a sorry way for us to be perceived, but if all is fair, we’ve done this to ourselves. Consider me a friend because I have saved you all three hours of your life that you can spend with family, friends, pets, sleeping, anything except for the unbelievable assault on your senses and intelligence that is the fifth and hopefully final installment in this massive misfire. I’m disappointed in myself that I had a glimmer of hope that The Last Knight would be anywhere near the realm of mediocre.