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Cacophonous, thinly plotted, and boasting state-of-the-art special effects, The Last Knight is pretty much what you'd expect from the fifth installment of the Transformers franchise.
All Critics (229)
| Top Critics (37)
| Fresh (35)
| Rotten (194)
Michael Bay has promised that this is the last Transformers movie he will direct, which is no small relief. It will not, alas, be the last Transformers movie.
Regardless of our opinions, we all know what a Michael Bay film is. This one's his most Baysome.
I can barely summon a feeling about The Last Knight; if anything, I feel slightly worried about how little I hated it.
A movie that's cut like the world's longest and most tedious trailer, pinballing from scene to scene and rarely spending more than a few seconds on any single shot.
I am not going to try to explain the story- after watching this movie I may never try to explain another story ever again.
All the best moments in the movie-pure images, devoid of symbol and, for that matter, nearly empty of sense-go by too fast, are held too briefly, are developed too little.
One of the disappointing aspects is visually it seemed a little lazy... usually that's at least something Bay gets right.
The human characters are ill-defined and uninteresting, and the robots are all completely interchangeable. The plot...is nonsensical at its best and riddled with basic plot holes at its worst.
Abandoning all pretense of narrative cohesion or continuity, this latest entry is content to simply offer clunky jokes and explosions and assume you either won't notice or won't care about its many, many flaws.
A glorious run-on sentence of a movie.
Seriously, this all needs to be put to rest. Autobots, let's roll on to something else, because this isn't working...at all.
The Last Knight very well might be the worst movie in the history of cinema. It changes aspect ratios at least 500 times. Seriously.
OK lets just jump into this shall we. The plot: I'm not even going to attempt to explain the plot for this 2 hour plus whirlwind of CGI metal shrapnel. You may well ask why, and the answer to that is simple. Where as I did understand the basic main outline of the plot, its so unbelievably convoluted, choppy, hectic, incoherent, nonsensical etc...that its virtually impossible to explain. Its literally a review in itself, but put basically, it revolves around a mcguffin that can save Cybertron, but is also required to save Earth.
Right OK so the movie kicks off in medieval England, 484 AD. It is a time of Arthurian legend, King Arthur, Merlin, the knights of the round table...errr...transformers. Yes so we know this isn't an accurate account of ancient British history. Its a stupid fantasy movie based on (supposed) legend with large transforming alien robots. Nevertheless this opening sequence did actually look pretty good I thought. The idea of ancient transformer knights in ancient medieval Britain was actually way more interesting than the rest of the modern day set movie. I still have to point out the fact Bay and co actually cast a black actor as a British knight in this Arthurian period. That's just as ridiculous as having the fecking robots! That's the second major motion picture that has done that, what gives?!
Its at this point we learn about the ancient Cybertronian knights coming to Earth and giving Merlin this magic staff mcguffin. But this did raise questions from me initially such as, what's so special about these transformers that they are called knights? Why did they steal the staff from Cybertron? What does the staff do on Cybertron? I believe they hid the staff on Earth because Earth is in fact Unicron (an ancient enemy of Cybertron). They were trying to protect Unicron from Quintessa, a Decepticon sorceress intent on destroying Unicron to save Cybertron. So this led me to think Unicron is a goodie in this movie? Because he was originally a Decepticon. But also, wouldn't the Cybertronian knights wanna help save Cybertron also? It is their home planet after all. Confusing!!!
Its also around this point that Prime (who was spiralling frozen through space, I forget why) lands on Cybertron. But what that intended? He was drifting frozen through space, was it pure luck that he landed on Cybertron or did he put himself on a pre-set course?? Also why was he frozen? Transformers fly through space quite often it seems, or so we've seen before. Heck didn't Starscream fly to Cybertron in one movie? Why didn't he freeze up? Does Bay and co even care what they did in previous movies??? Also when Prime gets to Cybertron he questions what has happened to his homeworld. But...shouldn't he know what happened? The whole Cybertronian war thing...
K lets look at the new characters, or in this new movie, the new politically correct characters because Bay's jumpin' on bandwagons. Firstly we now have kids in this movie, some smartass retro lookin' kids. You know because Bay clearly saw [i]Stranger Things[/i] and thought 'I can do that!'. So these kids consist of three tough streetwise kids who happen to be African American, Latino and Asian I think. And then you have the stereotypical curly haired, spectacled, nerdy white kid who's a wimp. These kids are purely in the movie to add more diversity and a kids point of view. Kinda pointless seeing as they do nothing other than get in the way.
The final kid is another tough streetwise girl who's a bit older than the others. This is Michael Bay's strong female character to appease the feminists. She's constantly crying, shouting, growling and acting as deadly serious as possible, you know...for gravitas. This was supposed to be 'empowering' for girls and was clearly pushed as such before the movies release with a string of laughable TV spots/trailers. In them the character talks to the camera as if she was doing an interview. Its shot as if the movie was an account of a real war situation or something, its pathetic. Again its all pointless because after the first ten minutes or so she's hardly in the movie.
Oh and this time there's also a little BB-8 type character in here too, you know because Bay saw 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and thought 'I can do that!'. So voilà! Instant merchandise for the movie. What's actually amazing is how this little piece of crap is clearly a cross between BB-8 and R2-D2, like in a copyright kinda way.
Things move so thick and fast in this movie its actually hard to keep up. So I realise Transformers have kinda made Earth their new home here and presumably new ones have crash landed over time. But can someone explain where the baby Transformers came from? The baby Dinobots, I presume they were Dinobots. Then you have the same stupid crap carried over from the previous movies with Transformers having hats, chewing cigars, having coats and the Japanese Autobot having a Mercedes badge on him. That really doesn't make sense to me but whatever. But why does this Autobot have the features of a Japanese samurai? I mean...why would he? Then there's the new task force whose job is to hunt down Transformers, they are called the TRF. But...but...what happened to the last task force?
So far we've had a plot that started in the dark ages of England with various characters. It then fast forwards to our present day and a US military point of view; from faceless characters that spend the entire runtime in offices behind computers (or John Tururro on the phone the entire time). It then switches to a children's point of view for literally one action scene before then jumping onto our main protagonists point of view (Mark Wahlberg). This is all in the space of the first 30 minute or so, and we haven't even be introduced to all the characters yet either!
Despite all the obvious pandering and stealing of ideas, Bay still manages to toss countless more overused and unoriginal ideas into the mix. Outta nowhere we get a calling card sequence for some Decepticons; you know when they stick the characters name up on the screen along with some rock music. Its been done to death in loads of movies and can be effective, but here it looks completely out of place and a desperate attempt at riding the coattails of some recent blockbusters. So we get a team of nasty Decepticons that are so badass they required this calling card sequence to showcase their badass names. Yet despite their gangsta speech patterns and bling, these guys get killed off very quickly which kinda makes you wonder why they were introduced in the first place. Next!
Oh my God I could spend the rest of this month writing about this movie and its bollocks. Anthony Hopkins character apparently lives in a huge castle full of ancient artifacts that must be worth millions altogether, not including the castle itself! We get a sequence showing the Autobots helping the allies fight against the Nazi's (wouldn't both world wars have ended pretty quickly with Autobots helping?). There's a high speed chase through Westminster in super performance cars which, if you know London, is a complete joke. Add to that the fact the characters jump from one supercar to another with ease. This all ends with Hopkins, Wahlberg and co stealing British submarine the [i[HMS Alliance[/i] (yes indeed!). Would a defunct WWII submarine being used as a museum since 1981 even run anymore? Oh its a Transformer too, of course it is (he says cackling insanely to himself). I also don't think a submarine of that type and age (or any) would have large windows like this one apparently does. Naturally the TRF have their own sub it seems, a regular fecking [i]G.I. Joe[/i] unit these guys.
They then discover the sunken alien ship which no one has ever stumbled across before up to this point apparently. Unsure as to where this was located, I guess the Atlantic somewhere but at this point I gave up even wondering because it could have been anywhere lets face it. Its around this time the movie was heading well north of the standard runtime for a crappy movie of this caliber. As the action pointed towards Stonehenge it slowly became more and more convoluted, nigh unwatchable. There are battles kicking off everywhere as Cybertron attaches itself to Earth, which you'd think would cause irreversible damage to our planet but whatever. The goodies fight the baddies, errr...some are defeated, some are killed...I think. The talisman mcguffin is revealed and stops the destruction of Earth, whilst also leaving Cybertron perfectly OK as well. So essentially what was all the fuss about?
In all my days I've never seen such a convoluted mess, which is supposed to be for kids...isn't it?? Jesus fecking Christ it was a chore to get through this; I almost gave up on a few occasions because I was so bored and ultimately confused. Apart from the nonsensical plot and film length, the editing is terrible. Jumping all over the place in a blur of nonstop action (what's new). The aspect ratio is also bouncing around all over the shop. There are multiple characters in here that needn't be, they are literally not required (both human and Transformer). Of course you have all the usual Bayisms we've all come to expect; I don't even need to list them because you know exactly what I'm talking about. Sure it all looks super slick and glossy, but again we've all come to expect that, that no longer holds any weight. Style over substance is an understatement! But we all know that now. It is however ironic that the stupidest part of the movie (the medieval opening), was by far the most intriguing.
If this legendary 80's franchise is to have any kind of future at all, it needs to be completely rebooted. Possibly in animated form, and probably going back to the classic original animated designs. In turn, any and all knowledge of these Bayformer movies should be erased from human history.
Unlike many of my critical brethren, I do not view Michael Bay as the devil incarnate. I think the man has definite talent and is one of the finest visual stylists working in the realm of film. I've enjoyed about half of the Transformers franchise and don't consider it the end-all-be-all of modern American cinema. Transformers: The Last Knight is exactly what the detractors have railed against from the start: a cacophonous ejaculation of incomprehensible nonsense. The charge has often been made against Bay's long filmography that his stories are unintelligible, but Transformers 5 proves to be the new measuring point for incensed incredulity. This isn't only the worst Transformers entry in a seemingly never-ending franchise (thanks product placement, merchandising, and toy sales) but an early contender for worst film of 2017.
Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is hiding out with other Autobots in a South Dakota junkyard awaiting the return of Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen). Prime ventured into space to find the remnants of the Autobot home world, Cybertron. Once found, he's brainwashed by the Cybertron goddess Quintessa (Gemma Chan) into being her servant. She's after an ancient staff that will prove to be the key to restarting Cybertron. It was last seen on Earth during the Dark Ages and rumor has it was given to Merlin. Cade is enlisted by a centuries-long secret society to help find the staff before the evil forces at bay get hold of it.
It feels like the Transformers 5 writers were on a week-long cocaine bender when they cobbled together this impenetrable narrative. Let me give you but a taste of the confusing, muddled, and overall mind-numbing plot as it exists. There's a magic staff from the robot world that will recharge the robot world, and it just so happens 12 robot knights, which form a giant robot dragon, landed on Earth and gave it to Merlin, played by a soused Stanley Tucci who was already a different character in the fourth Transformers movie, who then established a secret order that would keep the giant alien robots secret even as they were doing things as high-profile as literally killing Hitler, and the members of this secret society include Frederick Douglass and Queen Elizabeth and Shia LeBouf, and this staff needs to be retrieved from an underwater spaceship under Stonehenge by Merlin's blood progeny and will be aided by an alien talisman that forms an alien sword that does something, and the evil alien robots are going to recharge their planet by scraping the Earth's crust, which has horns protruding from it that once aligned with Pangaea, and there's an evil alien robot goddess who brainwashes Optimus Prime to retrieve her magical items on demand and then Megatron is being hired the U.S. government and a team of special ops are trailing him to get to the staff and... I'm sorry; did your brain start bleeding out your ears? I looked over to my friend Ben Bailey during the screening and saw him slumped over in his chair and thought, for a fraction of a second, that the movie had literally killed him (he had just fallen asleep for the third time). What an ignoble end.
The movie is a nonstop barrage of yelling and movement, an assault on the senses that leaves you dumbfounded and dazed, and without anything to moor onto. Almost every single actor is on screen for one of two purposes: quips or exposition. These are not characters but devices for words that ultimately don't make sense. Wahlberg has two different female sidekicks. For the first half, he's got a plucky teen that serves as a surrogate daughter figure. Izabella (Isabella Moner) is a kid with attitude and carefully arranged strands of hair that always fall over her face in every single shot in the entire movie. Izabella's introduction actually might be the highlight of an otherwise soul-crushing experience. Then Wahlberg leaves for England and he adopts a new sidekick, this time the hot smart woman who changes into a more comfortable outfit but literally keeps her heels. Vivian (Laura Haddock) is pretty much the next in a long line of highly sexualized, tawny female characters under Bay's alluring gaze (I wrote about the second film: "Women don't seem to exist in the Michael Bay world, only parts and pieces of women."). Her mother doesn't care about the end of the human world, or her daughter's many academic credentials, and instead pesters her about getting herself a man. This leads to one of the film's worst comedic moments, as Vivian's mother and friends giggle and eavesdrop on her and Wahlberg trashing a library as a spontaneous bout of sexy time. Wouldn't it be weird for anyone's mother to take pleasure in listening to your escapades and offer a play-by-play?
But the strangest characters are Anthony Hopkins' Sir Edmund Burton and his 4-foot robot ninja (voiced by Jim Carter). You can clearly tell that Hopkins didn't care at all what he was saying. He uncorks ungainly monologues with relish and then transitions into strained comedy as a doddering old man. The robot butler begins as a C3PO-esque prim and proper servant with a disarming fighting ability, and it works. However, as the movie progresses, the robot butler gets downright belligerent and seemingly drunk. It's truly bizarre, as if this robot is acting out to be seen like he's one of the cool kids, but whom exactly is he trying to impress? At one point, he tells Wahlberg that he is "on my shit list" and torpedoes out of a submarine, brings back fish, prepares a sushi dinner for the humans while supplying ingredients that were totally not found on a WWII-era sub that was parked as a tourist locale up until 20 minutes ago. The character makes no sense and seems to bounce around behavioral extremes. Take this passage late into the film:
Robot Butler: "Of all the earls I've served-"
Me: "You were the greatest?"
Robot Butler: "-You were the coolest."
Another confusing part of the film is the setting of its story. We're five movies in to an alien civil war taking place on Earth, so you would assume that normal life shouldn't feel normal after so many catastrophes. Egypt was destroyed in the second film (only Six Wonders of the World left in your punch card, Bay), Chicago was decimated in the third film, and China was blown up in the fourth film. It's about time that people started paying attention to these things and behaving differently. A new government agency is tasked with hunting down Transformers and there are war zone portions of the world that are quarantined, but that's about it. I initially thought this fifth movie was going to take place in a somewhat post-apocalyptic Earth where human beings have to struggle to survive. That's not Transformers 5 at all. It seems all too easy to ignore reality; Wahlberg's daughter is away at college. After four movies, the world of this franchise needed a jump in its stakes. Bay's films have always possessed an alarming sense of urgency but it rarely feels earned. Characters yelling, running, and explosions going off like fireworks isn't the same thing as genuinely developed stakes.
Another confusing aspect of Transformers 5 is Bay's jumbled aspect ratios (i.e. how wide the frame of the movie is presented). Sizeable portions were shot on IMAX, which has become all the rage for action movie directors since Nolan's The Dark Knight. I expected that. What I didn't expect was three different aspect ratios that jumped from shot to shot. Two characters will be having a conversation and the aspect ratio will cycle and it rips me out of the movie every time (there are SIX credited editors). The Dark Knight's IMAX sequences worked because they were sustained sequences. I expect the higher-grade IMAX film stock for the expansive action or picturesque landscapes to take in the natural splendor. What I wasn't expecting was measly interior conversations to be filmed in IMAX. Did I really need to watch a conversation with Vivian and her mother in IMAX to fully appreciate their bookshelf? Like much else in this perfunctory movie, this game of pin-the-tail-on-the-aspect-ratio makes no sense.
I don't normally like to quote myself, but reading over my concluding paragraph of 2011's Dark of the Moon, I was struck by how much of my assessment could equally apply to the fifth film, even down to the exact running-time: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon is likely everything fans would want from a franchise built around the concept of robots that fight. There's wanton destruction, a plethora of noisy explosions, and plenty of eye candy both in special effects wizardry and pouty, full-lipped women. But at a colossal 150-minute running time, this is a Transformers film that punishes as much as it entertains. There's really no reason a movie about brawling robots should be this long. There's no reason it should have to resort to so much dumb comedy. There's no reason that the women should be fetishized as if they were another sleek line of sexy cars. There's no reason why something labeled a 'popcorn movie' can't deliver escapist thrills and have a brain too." Take this assessment and times it by ten for The Last Knight. The incomprehensible plotting, infantile humor, nonchalant misogyny, empty action bombast, and dispiriting nature of the film are enough to suck the life out of you. I was bored tremendously and contemplated walking out on the movie (I stayed for you, dear reader). It feels like the screenplay was put into a blender. Transformers 5 is exhausting and exhaustively mechanical, and if this is the first start in a larger Expanded Transformers Cinematic Universe (ETCU?) then resistance may be futile. Still, it's worth fighting against brain-dead spectacle that only moves you to the exits.
Nate's Grade: D
The Transformers franchise has had its ups and downs. How far up and how far down is up to you, because I think this is one of the most divisive franchises out there today. Look, I enjoyed the original live-action film quite a bit. The second isn't good, the third one was a little better, but ever since the original cast left, this franchise has been digging itself an even deeper hole. I didn't have any hopes going into this film, other than the fact that I was hoping for it to be the best one in the franchise. I don't hope to dislike a film and for the most part, I find almost all of these movies tolerable, but Transformers: The Last Knight isn't only the worst film in the franchise, it's one of the worst films I've seen in a very, very long time. I have very few positives to say about this movie, so this may seem like more of a rant, but let's dive right in.
With a story crafted by four writers, there will always be conflict as to what fits into a film. Personally, I believe that a film should have no more than two writers, due to the fact that the term "too many cooks in the kitchen" is referenced far too often. The premise of this film is all over the place. The opening to this movie tells the audience that the Transformers have been here since the ancient times, which makes no sense in continuity with the first film, but that's another story. Optimus has his own story on his planet, which the film hardly ever focusses on, and characters/locations from previous films are shown/referenced to show that you're still watching the same franchise. With the addition of Anthony Hopkins unravelling the history of the Transformers, this film just becomes a giant bore, making you wish for an awesome climax, which also never happens.
The conclusion to the previous film had Optimus leaving Earth in search of his creator. This small aspect of the last instalment is the only thing that gave any kind of promise to this one being interesting. That being said, they pretty much abandon that for the majority of the movie, rarely ever showing what Optimus is up to until the third act. Sure, sometimes saving the best for last works, but when the most interesting thing happening in the movie forces you to wait and then lets you down in the third act, what was the point of the movie anyways? I can't stress enough how disappointing and hilariously executed the plot twists are throughout this film. Without spoiling anything, the big plot twist that reveals who the last remaining knight is, is the most I've chuckled at a movie in a while. The film asks you to suspend your disbelief, even for the standards of a Transformers movie, and it was at that point that I lost complete interest, which is really saying something, because it was the most interesting aspect about the movie that ends up ruining the movie.
We all know if this film makes a lot of money (which it probably will) we're going to see more movies, but in terms of quality, Transformers: The Last Knight is the final nail in the coffin for me. It's one thing when a movie fails to deliver on the one thing that the previous instalment promised, but another thing entirely when the film at hand seems to be adding addition sub plots in order to pad out the run time. From bad humour (again), to cool action that you need to wait two hours to see (again), to the build up of Optimus being the villain, only to completely thrown that away for a twist that is meant to be taken seriously, but ends up being hilarious, this movie is the definitive death of the franchise that has already been dead in the water many times.
Look, I'm sure some people may find enjoyment out of this movie, but I would have to ask why that is. From horrible dialogue, to an insanely convoluted premise, to the best characters hardly ever being present, to a climax that is too ridiculous to take seriously, Transformers: The Last Knight is officially the first Transformers movie that I absolutely hate. So take this as an even bigger warning, because when people were tearing apart the second and third instalments of this franchise, I was one of the first to defend them for being dumb fun popcorn flicks, and as bad as Transformers: Age of Extinction was, at least it felt like a continuation of the franchise.
With everything this movie tries to accomplish, it also makes itself the most distant from the series. Aside from maybe one or two chuckles and a couple of cool battle sequences, Transformers: The Last Knight is the worst film I've seen in all of 2017. It's easily the worst in the franchise and I can't stress enough to not spend your money on this movie. This film is so drawn out that I fear even kids will be bored out of their mind. Most films don't need reboots, but if they want to make more Transformers movies, please start from scratch, because there is no coming back from this atrocity.
Poorly-stretched plot, bland characters, hot-garbage action and senseless direction: everything you'd expect from a Transformers film. The Last Knight brings the 'Bayhem' to an excruciating (and final) peak and lands it as the worst of the franchise. 1/5
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