TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT

Here we go again, folks. Another Michael Bay Transformers film has come crashing back onto the big screen. “But Hunter, you hate these movies. Why do you continue to watch them?” Well, I do hate these movies. I never even saw the previous film with the dinosaur robots. Now that I write reviews, I’m back to putting myself through the films I have no interest in. Alas, here I am, back in the theater seeing another Transformers film. I just hope people know that I don’t watch films to hate them, or to talk bad about them. Why would I want to spend almost three hours on something I won’t enjoy? Of course I want all films to be good and don’t want to be miserable watching them. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

In Transformers: The Last Knight, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) is out floating in space, heading to his home world Cybertron to speak with his Creators. When he arrives, evil Transformer woman Quintessa (Gemma Chan) turns Optimus Prime evil, convincing him to destroy the Earth. Back down on our planet, inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is attempting to help out the continuously arriving Autobots, who are being hunted by the government. When he happens upon a mysterious talisman that binds to his skin, he meets up with historian Edward Burton (Anthony Hopkins). He reveals that Cade has been chosen as the last knight, who must work together with college professor Vivien (Laura Haddock), a descendant of fabled wizard Merlin, in order to stop Earth’s destruction… I’m not making any of this up.

Look, I know I’m not the target audience for the Transformers films. They’re clearly meant for one thing and one thing only: action and spectacle on a massive scale. The thing is, I love action. Action movies can be wonderful marvels that captivate you through every explosion. In order to be fully captivated, though, you actually need a story. A plot. Characters. Logic. Tonal consistency. Stakes. You know, stuff that actually makes a movie a movie! There’s absolutely none of that to be found in his abhorrent mess. From beginning to end, it’s hardly anything more than just a collection of random scenes, strung together by the thinnest thread that can even be called a plot. What reason was there to incorporate King Arthur, Merlin, and all of that stuff in a film about fighting robots? To just keep adding to the absurdity, so we can have giant, robotic, three-headed dragons? It’s so needlessly confusing and complicated.

Everything about this feels horribly slapped together. There’s a lot of time wasted on subplots and minor characters that go nowhere and have no actual effect on the movie. The film basically takes an hour and a half to set up the inane plot, all with pointless and long scenes of action and exposition to boot. What was the point of all of the little kid characters, especially Izabella (Isabella Moner)? They add nothing to the film. Bay attempts to give her a little story, finding a father figure in Cade, and he sees her as a daughter. Of course, it goes nowhere and we get no emotional connection. Was this some cheap way to pander to kids, especially girls, and give them somebody to identify with? I don’t see it working, as she’s given no real character or development, so having 52-year-old Michael Bay suddenly focus so much on 14-year-old girl feels a little bit weird.

Characters are introduced in one scene, then suddenly dropped for the next half hour, only to appear again when convenient. I consistently found myself thinking, “Wait, where’s that character at?” Also, how many times can someone change their clothes in the span of a day? I swear Wahlberg’s paper thin love interest (who looked somewhat like Megan Fox, funnily enough) was in a new outfit every other scene. This isn’t just due to the overly complicated plotting, but also the chaotic editing, which is just atrocious. It’s so frenetic as it goes from shot to shot with no fluidity or sense of direction, constantly leaving me confused, even during dialogue scenes! I hardly ever knew where we were, or what was happening.

I started off the film confused, but as the insulting running time dragged on with nothing of actual consequence happening, I really started getting irritated. The worst part is that there’s no refuge from Michael Bay’s terrible brand of humor. Nearly every single line of dialogue from nearly every single character is a joke. There was not one scene that wasn’t filled with just the most lazy, low-brow, cringeworthy attempt at comedy. It goes beyond comic relief, to where it’s practically a horrendously unfunny comedic farce, giving me a groan reflex throughout. The fact that these “comedic” scenes permeate the film and pad the runtime for no reason just makes it more frustrating. The only time I laughed out loud was when Mark Wahlberg called a robot a skank simply because it’s was so absurd. There’s no drama to latch onto, nothing to laugh at. Just mindless noise.

You’d think we’d at least get some decent performances from this, right? Nope. For how terrible the first two Transformers sequels were, they still had a fine central performance with Shia LeBeouf who grounded the film for us humans. He’s a charismatic guy who can really carry a movie and act well with computer generated effects. Mark Wahlberg isn’t. He’s about as bland as an action hero as you can get, but that could be because he and everyone else are forced to recite the most awful dialogue possible. This problem goes for every other character pretty much everybody talks the exact same, all speaking in a mix of grating sarcastic quips and exposition. It seriously feels like characters were talking to themselves at points, the only discernible difference between them being their gender and physical appearance. Even Anthony Hopkins is relegated to saying lazy vulgarities and forced jokes! He seems like an embarrassing attempt to add clout to an insipid franchise. Every actor is terrible, but mostly due to the failure of the writing and directing. There is no character with any depth, and any motivation or personal story is slim at best.

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen a film lack both a story and a plot. Yes, the production design, visual and special effects, pyrotechnics, booming sound design, and destruction is as beautifully realized as ever, but what’s the point? The direction, camerawork, and editing is still incomprehensible, and with no emotional attachments, there is nothing to get out of any of the action, the 3D shockingly being the best part. I don’t often see films in IMAX 3D, but since I heard that 98% of the film was shot with IMAX 3D cameras, and my local theater has one of the only true IMAX theaters left in the country, I decided to plop down the extra cash. The 3D was actually quite good, adding depth and immersion, without really being distracting or annoying. I was surprised by how bright the picture was while wearing the glasses, actually. Unfortunately, this led to the film constantly changing aspect ratios throughout, which got incredibly distracting and irritating. There were back and forth dialogue scenes between characters, where the aspect ratio would change every other shot!

Transformers: The Last Knight honestly feels like Michael Bay is just messing with us at this point. Clearly he doesn’t care about making these anymore, as he didn’t want to come back for the previous film. Sure, with Michael Bay it really is a matter of “What do you expect?” I was expecting this film to be bad, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this bafflingly atrocious and absurd. It almost feels experimental at points because of how terrible it is. It’s almost admirable for someone to make a film that is this unapologetically awful. I can admit recency bias may be at play here, but this is honestly the worst wide release film I’ve seen in quite some time.

However, if you want to hear Anthony Hopkins say, “That’s a bitchin’ car,” this is probably your only chance.

1.5/10

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