Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) Review: Exhausting Epic.
It’s been 10 years since the first Transformers film was released in theaters. Since then we’ve watched the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons wage on, getting grander and grander with each film. With ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ I do believe the series has finally reached its breaking point with its most incoherent entry yet. The war of the Transformers once again threatens planet Earth, except this time, the Autoboots face their greatest enemy yet. Leader of the Autobots gone rogue: Optimus Prime.
That summarization of the plot is extremely lacking, but to include the 1 trillion plot points this film sees fit to hurl at the viewer would be a fool’s errand. Most of them are inconsequential, go nowhere, and contradict the plot as the film goes on. If that wasn’t bad enough, the way the film presents it to you is in a manner consistent with director Michael Bay’s style, with everything in the film shot and edited like it’s the most important moment of the movie. The problem with that is, when everything’s supposed to be special, suddenly nothing is.
None of this is new to the ‘Transformers’ franchise, but previously, the average movie goer could at least expect a fully finished product. Specifically, there are shots in the movie which fill the entire frame, seemingly taking up most of the screen, and then there are shots which use significantly less space, with black bars appearing at the top and bottom of the screen. The switch between the two is often rapid, forcing the viewer to constantly adjust their focus. It’s menacingly distracting, and not an experience I would wish on my worst enemy.
Perhaps just as distracting is the movie’s severe tonal dissonance. The Transformers films have always been full of humour. Some of it is stupid, some of it is racist, most of it is both. At the very least, even when being forced to sit through the worst jokes possible, the film’s felt somewhat balanced against the save the world plot of the main story line. Here, there’s constant talk of impending Armageddon, with the world at large reacting to the threat of assured destruction, but it’s hard to stick with that when the next scene is a tiny robot looking through a car magazine like it’s Playboy.
Of course, there’s no way to talk about the movie without mentioning its incredibly memorable characters. There’s small child with cute robot friend whose go get em attitude and skill with all things mechanical shows just how influential Rey and BB-8 really were. There’s old wise British man, played by Anthony Hopkins, who ranges from completely checking out of the movie, to overacting the hell out of it. There’s green Australian robot, bearded gun robot, and of course Asian stereotype robot, who has gone through the immense character development of a new paint job, ditching his electric blue for a sweet black and red. All of these characters were engaging and fun to watch and in no way annoying.
Sarcasm aside, the film has 4 characters worth possibly thinking about. The rest pop in and out of the movie at such an infrequent rate you forget they were there when you see them again. Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yaeger drives the plot enough to the point where you don’t fall asleep, but there’s nothing remarkable about him beyond that. The female lead in this Vivian, played by Laura Haddock, is portrayed as gratuitous eye candy, but also treated like a plot device. If the movie couldn’t feel any more overstuffed, the plot is focused on the journey of both these characters, with each of them concerned with their own MacGuffin and end goal. Following either is just as boring and predictable as the other. It’s equal opportunity boring.
The crux of this movie, as pitched to potential audiences everywhere, is the infamous fight between Bumblebee and Optimus Prime. The matchup of the decade. The fight to end all fights. The student must best the master in order to keep the world from falling into despair and chaos. I will admit, the idea is an intriguing one, but in a movie this long, it’s an insult to the audience that the fight only lasts for about 5 minutes, isn’t particularly impressive, and ends as disappointingly, but not nearly as insulting, as the Martha scene from ‘Batman v Superman’.
‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ is a technical marvel of the worst kind. It’s the very definition of all over the place. At times the movie is dark and contemplative, but then it will switch to being as goofy as a Saturday morning cartoon. When I ask myself though, did I enjoy watching ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’, the answer is regrettably yes. Much like the way one enjoys watching a series of car wrecks on YouTube. I cannot in good conscience, however, recommend that anyone, man, woman or child pay money to see this film, as being forced to sit in a cinema for the film’s 2 hours and 30-minute runtime was devastatingly exhausting.
Rating: Catch It On Cable