Film Review – Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
Michael Bay’s next installment in the Transformers franchise has come to theaters. The fifth installment, entitled Transformers: The Last Knight, is the follow-up to the much maligned Transformers: Age of Extinction. Although, the franchise has had some less than stellar films (that’s putting it lightly), this newest installment promised a completely gonzo moviegoing experience that includes both knights and Nazis. But could Michael Bay and his crew pull of this absurd concept? The following review will be spoiler free.
Transformers: The Last Knight, as you already know, is directed by Michael Bay and stars Mark Wahlberg, Laura Haddock, Isabela Moner, and Sir Anthony Hopkins. Once again, humans are at war with the Transformers, leaving the balance of the world in peril. The humans’ greatest aly, Optimus Prime, is now gone. In order to save the world, Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) and Bumblebee must find secrets of the hidden history of the Transformers on Earth. However, before they can attempt to save the world, they’ll need the help of an English lord (Hopkins) and a professor (Haddock).
Somewhere in the ether of Hollywood ideas, there are fourteen ideas for new Transformers films that may be formed into feature length movies at some point in time.
Does anyone even want one more Transformers movie?
The first movie in the franchise was met with a lot of praise from fans, despite some of its flaws. However, what happened next can be best described as diminishing returns. Not only were the sequels subpar, many people downright hated them and everything they stood for. Typically, a franchise with such hate would have died off by now, but there’s just one problem: the movies continue to gross a ton of money all over the world. While the domestic box office totals have continued to fall, international numbers continue to rise. In fact, approximately 80% of Age of Extinction‘s box office came from international markets.
It appears that Transformers films are not going anywhere, considering Age of Extinction grossed over $1.1 billion. The only thing we can hope for is that the people in charge over at Paramount finally crack the code and make a solid movie.
But does Transformers: The Last Knight start a new era of critically successful Transformers films?
Spoiler alert: absolutely not.
What I Liked
What I Didn’t Like
Michael Bay is certainly more well known for his prowess on the technical side of the production of a movie. However, the editing on Transformers: The Last Knight is pretty horrendous. Typically, I wouldn’t blame the director for an editing issue. But, since Bay has final say on the film in his contract with Paramount, it is only logical to blame him for the mess that was put out into theaters.
The fifth Transformers has practically zero through-line to its plot (if you can even call it a plot). The film simply jumps from place to place without any setup or understanding, making the film incredibly confusing to follow. Should a Transformers film have a complex story structure? Absolutely not.
At one point, there may have been a three or four hour cut of this film that made more sense from a narrative perspective. However, there’s so much fluff in this film that Bay needs to be criticized for keeping style over substance. Rather than having moments that connect characters and plot points, Bay would much rather have cringeworthy banter between characters or a pointless polo scene.
Even the most mundane moments in the film are truncated and altered to the point where a scene involving Anthony Hopkins getting in the car takes five different cuts.
Transformers: The Last Knight also uses different cameras within the same scene, causing the aspect ratio to keep changing back and forth. Even within conversations between characters, the aspect ratio is changed which causes the black bars above and below the film to keep changing. Not only is this a bad editing practice, it’s very, very jarring.
What I Didn’t Like…Continued
What makes Transformers: The Last Knight even worse is its aggressively terrible humor. Seamingly every other second, there’s an attempt at humor that is so annoying and stupid that you can’t help but grow angry.
While not ideal, unfunny jokes in movies aren’t the worst thing in the world. However, Transformers: The Last Knight actively pursues a slapstick tone that feels incredibly cynical, as if the movie is subconciously saying, “We know this is terrible but you’ll laugh at it anyway.”
If you find yourself hating the comedy, it gets even worse. There’s nothing intelligent or imaginitive about of it. Rather, it relies on racial/ cultural stereotypes, physical gags, and absolutely cringeworthy sex talk.
The humor here feels almost like a studio executive wrote the dialogue. It feels like people in suits just talked about what’s popular and tried to copy it.
What I Didn’t Like…Continued…Continued
Piggybacking off that last point, everything about Transformers: The Last Knight feels like it was cooked up in a lab somewhere. There’s zero passion or creativity here. Every story beat feels unbelievable cynical and, above all else, lazy. While watching the feature, you get the feeling that every step of the film was done without care.
Even Michael Bay’s action is lacking in effort. Like every other piece of the movie, it’s completely incomprehensible and headache-inducing.
I can forgive a bad movie. Sometimes, film production just doesn’t work out. But I will never forgive a lazy movie. Every ounce of this film is made with the feeling that it doesn’t matter and people are still going to see the film no matter what. Such behavior should never be condoned from a large corporation like Paramount.
I went into this movie giving Transformers: The Last Knight every chance to win me over. However, approximately two and a half hours later, I left the theater with feelings of regret, anger, and frustration. This fifth installment in the Transformers saga is aggressively bad, all the while having an ever-present cynical tone that mocks viewers for seeing the film. Obviously, it gets an F. Hopefully, this is the movie that finally sends the message to Paramount to switch things up…or we’ll get more of the same in future.
My heart says the first option, but, unfortunately, my brain says the second one.
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