“Transformers: The Last Knight” Movie Review


     The “Transformers” series has now become so tired and in need of inspiration, that franchise director Michael Bay has resorted to ripping off design elements and lines from classic films in order to some how hack together another installment.  Clearly made for international consumption and the billion dollars that comes with it, “Transformers: The Last Knight”, the fifth and hopefully last chapter in the financially successfully, yet critically panned series, returns Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager and adds Anthony Hopkins and Laura Haddock in key roles.  Bay, who continues to distance himself from some of his more solid efforts like “The Rock” (1996) and “Armageddon” (1998), delivers another exercise in excess and overkill.  It’s the cinematic equivalent of ordering and attempting to finish The Kitchen Sink from The San Francisco Creamery by yourself.  Or imagine a two and half hour version of the last 20 minutes of “Man of Steel” in what would be a nonstop sensory overload of clanking robots, explosions, car rumbling, gun shots, glass shattering, falling skyscrapers, and practically every other noise found within a sound designers tool kit amped up to shake the audience to its very core.  Watching this film will numb you.  That is when you're not rolling your eyes.

     The opening sequence, which may actually change your opinion of Guy Ritchie’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” from also ran to Oscar contender, changes the common story of King Arthur and injects the Transformers as the actual source of Merlin’s (Stanley Tucci) magic.  Obviously a major advantage in the Dark Ages, the Transformers help Arthur’s army defeat their enemies with ease, but now in the present day, the staff given to Merlin which yields the power of the Transformers may actually be the key to saving Earth from another otherworldly attack.  To go into the rest of the plot would be an exercise in futility.  Bay and his screenwriters, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, and Ken Nolan, have concocted a narrative so confusing, there is really no intelligent way to follow it.  It’s as if the editing was pieced together with those who suffer from severe attention deficit disorder in mind.  Characters populate endless action sequences, taking a breath only to blurt out commands or one liners designed to propel other characters from one action sequence to the next. Nobody stands still for even a second, as several of the main characters seem to continuously incur more damage than the villains in “Home Alone”, yet they emerge back into the battle without a scratch. There are multiple sides which all seem to be constantly converging and overlapping one another to the point we don't really ever know who’s fighting who or exactly whose side their on.

     After his exploits in the fourth film, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) now spends his time attempting to hide AutoBots in an old junk yard, as the Transformers Reaction Force, led by Colonel William Lennox (Josh Duhamel returning from the first three films), is hot on his trail as a known fugitive and harborer of the robotic alien race who is now seen by humans as being the enemy regardless of their affiliation.  While looking for other AutoBots hiding amongst the ruins of Chicago, Cade meets a 12 year old girl named Izabella (Isabela Moner) who has a knack for survival having lost both of her parents at the hands of Decepticons and now vowing to destroy them.  Meanwhile, an Englishman named Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) believes he has made an important connection between the Knights of the Round Table and a current Oxford college professor, Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock), whom he believes may be the key to an impending threat against Earth.  Within a half hour, all of these forces collide with one another over and over again, but with no real end game in sight.  It’s as if all of these characters are simply winging it with no plan as to how or where to proceed next.  

     Bay surrounds all of them with massive doses of chaos, over complicating each and every frame with nary a single pixel devoid of some element containing CGI.  In other words, the entire thing is all spectacle with zero substance.  In addition, viewers with a keen sense of classic film awareness will certainly pick up on a line uttered by Mark Wahlberg that also happens to be a line from Dennis Hopper’s character in “Speed” or the fact that the TRF has apparently commissioned the ED-209 from “Robocop”, and even an army of Darth Vader’s TIE Fighters make a nostalgic appearance as drones attempting to find Cade and his co-conspirators.  There is also blatant use of imagery taken directly from “The Abyss”, not to mention the entire plot, which centers around terraforming the Earth into an alien planet is exactly what General Zod had in mind when he did the same thing in “Man of Steel”.  Of course that is to say nothing about the fact the Transformer Merlin unleashes to help King Arthur’s army happens to be a dragon.  “Game of Thrones” anyone?

     All of this adds up to a sad and unequivocal mess of a film that checks in at a butt numbing 150 minutes and even has the audacity to tease another installment during the end credits.  Early on in the film, Optimus Prime is told by the story’s main antagonist that should he fail in his mission, the Transformers would be gone forever.  It was at that point, I found myself rooting against Prime, Bumble Bee, Cade, and the rest of these one dimensional characters, hoping the bad guys would find a way to win this one, so as to spare us any reason for another “Transformers” film to be made.  As far as Michael Bay’s career goes, there is no question he possesses the technical brilliance and action directing skill on par with the very best.  With the right film, is there any doubt he could be as good as James Cameron or Chris Nolan?  Perhaps he should abandon this franchise once and for all and put his filmmaking prowess to use making films like his own 2013 film “Pain and Gain”.  A film where the character’s backstories, emotions,  motivations, and dialogue are deemed just as important as the action set pieces they become a part of. But rather than pursue quality, Bay has chosen to go with quanity and abundance.  “The Last Knight” is a significant downgrade (and that’s saying something) from the last installment, 2014’s “Age of Extinction”, and the worst in the series following 2009’s “Revenge of the Fallen” and 2011’s “Dark of the Moon”. The decline of these four films, when compared to the 2007 original, “Transformers” is simply astounding.  Begging the question: Why are we still watching these movies? GRADE: F-