“Transformers: The Last Knight” Film Review: A Massive Medieval Mess

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Optimus Prime in TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, from Paramount Pictures.All images courtesy of Paramount Pictures

There are certain movies that are just so mindlessly insane that are executed in a way that makes you actually buy into the ridiculousness they are selling (i.e. the Fast and Furious franchise). Movies of the sort provide an enjoyable dose of fun that is worth your time. TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT is not one of those movies.

The Last Knight marks the fifth installment of Michael Bay’s multi-million dollar CG-laden opus based on the popular Hasbro toy. The movie immediately starts off with a flashback to medieval times where the legendary King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are fighting off barbarians or some sort of second-rate Game of Thrones enemy. Nonetheless, they are losing and Artie is counting on his wizard pal Merlin (played by an unrecognizable Stanley Tucci) to pop up and save them all with some sort of magic. Lo and behold, he lends them a hand thanks to a magical staff and a — GASP! — Transformer. Yup. They existed back then, too. Thus builds a foundation for a movie that is off to a flimsy start.

Fast forward to present day where humans are oppressing Transformers to the point where it’s illegal to be one. Optimus Prime has gone bye-bye and our favorite on-the-run beefcake inventor Cade (Mark Wahlberg) is hiding out with Bumblebee, a host of other Transforming buddies as well as Jimmy (Jerrod Carmichael), and a wisecracking colleague whose position is very vague and Izabella (Isabela Moner), a lone-wolf rebel who knows a thing or two about fixing Transformers.

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After Cade is given a mysterious amulet by a dying Transformer during a little skirmish, a man by the name of Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) finds out and immediately sends away for him. When Cade arrives at his castle, he meets Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock), an Oxford Professor who is well versed in history – particularly medieval times. Burton, a collector and Transformer mythology expert, informs Cade that the amulet he possesses is the key to unlocking secrets of the past that will save the future of the Earth. All the while, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) comes back to life and is under the control of big baddie Quintessa (Gemma Chan). She orders him to destroy Earth so that their fallen home of Cybertron can be saved.  With Cade’s amulet, Vivian’s knowledge (and secret family lineage!), and Edmund’s moxie for adventure, they team up with a rag-tag group of Transformers to stop Quintessa and save the world.

If this all sounds stupid, it’s because it is.

The Last Knight is a series of nonsense dialogue coming out of people’s mouths padded by loud explosions and enough CG to give a viewer green screen fatigue within the first half-hour. The story is a junkyard of convoluted and cluttered ideas to make for a frustrating 149 minutes (yes, it is that long) of soulless flash. It’s as if Michael Bay and his team made this movie in a week while surviving on Red Bull, Pixy Stix, and adrenaline injectables that are only legal in Mexico. Hardly any of this movie made sense and when things did start to come together, something random was thrown in to make you say, “What in the hell are we watching?”

Plenty of things were shoehorned in there in order to serve the already thin narrative — which could have easily been streamlined because let’s face it: all we want to see is cool Transformers. Sure, it was great to see some of our old favorites from the franchise’s past like Colonel Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Agent Simmons (John Turturro). And yes, the addition of Carmichael and Tony Hale were great — but all of this was a waste of their talent. They do the most what they can with thankless roles in a garbage movie.

Bumblebee in TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, from Paramount Pictures.

State-of-the-art special effects aside, trying to find a redeeming quality in this heap of malarky is very difficult. Cade’s relationship with his daughter is an attempt to give the movie some sort of emotional, familial grounding and the same can be said about his paternal relationship with Izabella (who mysteriously disappear halfway through the movie) — but all of that is an afterthought. It’s as if the writers forgot to put some sort of humanistic narrative in and added those plot points last minute while on set and Bay just said, “Let’s roll with it!”. They also try to wedge in a romance between Cade and Vivian (who, by the way, bears an uncanny similarity to Transformers alumna Megan Fox) which is so predictable. How can you not cast two hot actors in the lead of a Michael Bay movie and not have them end up together? All of the effort to make this into a relatable story was disappointing and seemed destined to fail from the beginning.

As a child of the ’80s that lived for these “robots in disguise”, The Last Knight did not ruin my childhood. I don’t associate Bay’s franchise with the toys that I grew up with — especially this sloppy installment. It’s obnoxious, horribly pieced together, and probably the most expensive mess that will hit the theaters this summer. Trying to make this whole ordeal into a clever way to alter history for cinematic purposes is a waste of time and ultimately a failure.  Based on the track record of the past Transformers movies, the bar was set really low for the latest bro-tastic addition to the franchise and it still managed to underperform.

Rated:  PG-13
Running time: 149 minutes

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Dino watches too much TV, enjoys reality singing competitions and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
Follow Dino on Twitter: @dinoray
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