Transformers: The Last Knight

Director: Michael Bay

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Ken Watanabe, Tyrese Gibson, Jerrod Carmichael, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Hopkins, Stanley Tucci, John Turturro

Rated: PG-13 (violence and intense sequences of sci-fi action, language, and some innuendo)

Autobots and Decepticons are at war, with humans on the sidelines. Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth.

 

Transformers: The Last Knight

By Cole Schneider

The Transformers franchise has always been more like watching a bunch of wannabe cool 13 year-olds playing Call of Duty than it has been like watching an actual movie series. “The Last Knight” is the fifth try for Michael Bay and his team, and while this one retains those same immature elements and dedication to avoiding any dramatic storytelling, it also brings in some King Arthur mythology that at best makes no sense and at worst is offensive in its willful ignorance.

Sometimes this feels like Transformers, sometimes it feels like Call of Duty, sometimes it feels like a King Arthur epic, and sometimes it feels like the next National Treasure mystery. Somehow, it fails to make any of those elements compelling in the slightest. Anytime it approaches something dramatic it shifts gears by telling a joke too reprehensible to be put on paper for a first draft. Anytime it approaches something fun it shifts gears by yanking in a dramatic falsehood too dour to be immediately recognized for how stupid it truly is.

There is the technical prowess Bay has always had (Hate all you want but he would make straight A’s in film school), but it never amounts to anything so there is really only one thing the film has going for it. While Anthony Hopkins’ character is as inane as any other in the franchise, the actor brings a verve that only John Turturro has brought to the franchise, elevating his character beyond ground level—if only slightly.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

 

Transformers: The Last Knight

By Matt Greene

Last Knight is, admittedly, less offensively appalling than some of its atrocious predecessors. However, it is every bit as mind-numbingly vapid. Obnoxious slo-mo explosions, constant bickering about the world ending, CGI covering loud CGI covering louder CGI. Not a single emotional or motivational moment works; everything’s so unearned and clichéd our empathy disappears for the entire 150 minutes. It may be a middle-of-the-road Transformers flick, but it’s mostly just really bad

There’s a forced connection to King Arthur lore, and a tired good-guy-goes-bad-then-(SPOILER)-goes good-again trope. Otherwise, it’s business-as-usual: the world is threatened by some sort of unstoppable force of destruction, and there’s only one way to stop it. Will our heroes be able to stop the annihilation? Of course. Will Optimus Prime nearly die like he has in every other film? Of course. Will the dialogue be as clunky and expository as a 90’s video game cut scene? It wouldn’t be a Bay film without it! It’s less like entertainment and more like staring at a noisy, lit up wall.

With all that, you’re probably wondering how this isn’t the worst in the series. Well, for all the hilarious illogic, the auteur cinematic style (yeah, I called Michael Bay an auteur) is impossible to deny. The effects (while endless) are seamless, and there a more than a few sets that are truly grand (an underwater spacecraft specifically stands out). I can’t help but think if ever given a better script, Bay could make a great movie. Unfortunately these Transformer films over explain every plot detail, rarely use visual tools to say what’s happening, and treat its characters and audience with disdain. It’s just honest-to-God bad filmmaking.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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