So I watched Transformers: The Last Knight…
I think the way I watched the first three Transformers movies was perfect – I didn’t go to the cinema, I lazily waited for them to become available digitally and then casually watched them when I had time. But then I – foolishly – thought that maybe the reason why I hadn’t enjoyed them was because I hadn’t had the full cinema experience. Now having had the full cinema experience for two movies I feel horrible for having added my cents to Michael Bay’s destruction of one of my favourite chilhood TV shows.
Okay, basic plot: Without Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) – who has left Earth to find his maker – the transformers left on Earth are without a leader and busy running rampant. Transformers are deemed illegal and a special task force – The TRF – is created with the sole intention of capturing and destroying them. When Optimus Prime returns he does so with a deadly prophecy that lays out Earth’s impending destruction. The only way to stop it is to find an ancient weapon, a weapon that reveals the full extent of the Transformers’ history on Earth. A history that dates back to the days of King Arthur.
Have you ever caught someone out in a lie? Pointed out that you know that they were in point A even though they claim to have been in point B? Made them aware of certain inconsistencies in their tale? If they don’t confess to the fact that they were indeed lying, what they’ll usually do is distract you from the truth with a grander lie. Adding more layers and details to the point where you aren’t sure what the original holes were in their lie. That’s what Michael Bay has done with the Transformers franchise. Now I say Michael Bay but there were obviously screenwriters and story developers who were involved in this constant cycle of lies followed by larger lies; but for the sake of convenience I’ll say ‘Michael Bay’ but what I really mean is the entire filmmaking team involved in the creation of these movies.
In the first film we’re told that after the destruction of their home planet – Cybertron – the Transformers are an extinct race with the few we see in the first film being the sole survivors. Yet with every new Transformers movie we are inundated with hordes of brand new Transformers. Where do they come from? Is Cybertron still making them? Were they actually not extinct just hiding out in space looking for a new home? Who knows because no one ever deems it necessary to explain this plot hole.
Furthermore why does the Transformers’ history on Earth keep changing? First Megatron just came here chasing an Energon cube. Then it turns out Transformers actually wanted to harvest the Earth’s Sun. Then it turns out Megatron actually came to Earth to meet up with Sentinel to get some pillars to teleport Cybertron to Earth. Then it turns out Transformers were here during the time of the dinosaurs. Why does it keep changing? It feels like each film’s screenwriters don’t bother watching the previous film before writing their script. It’s the only explanation for these ongoing contradictions.
Now a film can have contradictions like this if it’s revealed that the truth presented earlier wasn’t the whole truth. The Transformers franchise, however, boxes itself in and instead of creating films that look to the future where expansive storylines would be possible, instead chooses to constantly rewrite its past and hopes you won’t notice. Why it chooses to do this, only Michael Bay and his co-conspirators know. So, if it’s not quite clear, I’m trying to say that this film – like the film’s that came before it – has a nonsensical storyline. There are once again far too many subplots and instead of choosing a few to explore which would lead to a film that’s at least an hour shorter; the film tries to shove them all in and forces you to endure a two-and-a-half-hour pile of excrement.
Now I know what you’re going to say – this film isn’t made for critics. It’s not trying to win an Oscar with its screenplay, it’s all about giant robots fighting each other. That is true and, trust me, I love mindless action as much as the next person BUT Transformers has reached its cap. We’ve seen all its tricks, it’s pulled the ace out of its sleeve and it’s not enough to impress us anymore. There’s nothing innovative, nothing breath-taking, nothing left to leave us in shock and awe. We’ve seen it all before and, to be honest, certain parts of it weren’t impressive the first time we saw them, so why would we be blown away by them now? Yes, giant robots fight. Yes, this being a Michael Bay film, everything explodes but it’s not enough anymore. It feels like Michael Bay has run out of ideas and this series has run out of reasons to be tolerable.
With regards to acting, Mark Wahlberg does alright. He does the ‘Mark Wahlberg’ – he’s brash, competent in action sequences and likeable enough to keep you watching. The real problem I had was with the cast around him. Laura Haddock stars as Viviane Wembly – an Oxford professor who – in typical Transformers fashion – is meant to be a leading lady but is reduced to nothing but slow-motion eye candy. In a time of Wonder Woman and Furiosa how are we still degrading women like this? Michael Bay once again manages to persuade Hollywood royalty to agree to sully their good names, this time in the form of Anthony Hopkins. It’s clear that Hopkins is just here to have some fun and collect his cheque. He’s acting class and always delivers quality so any faults I had with his character were due to how it was written rather than his performance.
There’s a child actor – who (needlessly) joins the cast – by the name of Isabela Moner who stars as Izabella (this film’s originality knows no bounds, I tell you). I pretty much hated everything about her character. Moner overacts to the hills and the character is so thinly written that you can see the toilet paper that the screenwriters used to script her character and, in turn, this entire movie. Though most of the characters in this film are horrible as are the performances behind them.
There is one performance though that I did genuinely enjoy and which provided the film with its best moments. Jim Carter voices Cogman – a sociopathic robot butler who serves Anthony Hopkins’ character. Carter is a delight and Cogman – through his need to provide musical accompaniment to certain scenes – gave me the only sincere smile (and enjoyment) I had during this entire movie’s runtime. Another positive is that there seemed to be far less product placement in this film – besides the obligatory car logos of the different Transformers. As always, the CGI and special effects are flawless. It’s such a shame that this film series continues to be a better visual experience than actual film experience.
Overall, Transformers: The Last Knight is terrible, there’s no other word for it. Michael Bay has said this will be his last Transformers movie and to that I say, “Hallelujah”. There’s only two real moments that I enjoyed in this movie and those were both because of Cogman, the rest I wish could be deleted from my brain. Don’t watch this movie, just don’t 3/10