Over the last ten years, the Transformers franchise has gone steadily downhill. The first movie in 2007 was a fun romp, but the previous decade has seen this movie universe expand far too much. So many new ideas have been crammed in that it’s nearly impossible to keep track of what’s going on. The latest instalment, Transformers: The Last Knight, is the epitome of over-stuffed. It’s like a mishmash of eighteen different movies, and none of them are good.
As so many of the Critical Hit staff were subjected to a screening of The Last Knight, we’ve put all our thoughts together for you. As much as it physically pained us to recollect this film.
How do you top one of the biggest sci-fi franchises that throws non-stop robot battles your way? You throw even more robots at the audience and make those battles even bigger, story be damned. Quantity over quality! Sadly though, you would think that with all that bubbling CGI thrown at you that you would have little time to ponder about anything else, except that Transformers: The Last Knight takes the story to such depths of silliness, that you are left wondering about the stupidity of it all rather than marveling at the beauty of its effects.
You would think that after writing five films in the Transformers Universe that the writers would understand their characters and story a little better. However, it seems they are getting even more confused with each iteration and keeping falling into the same mistakes that previous films make. Only they take their already paper-thin plot and blow it to smithereens. Not only does Transformers: The Last Knight make no sense as a standalone film, but it amazingly makes even less sense when viewed in the confines of the entire franchise. The levels of ineptitude that are thrown your way are incredible.
That the film thinks it’s okay to throw yet another story that has Optimus Prime removed for much of the storyline, have the army chasing after inconsequential humans and good guys while leaving Megatron to roam the world and introducing characters and plot points that destroy all the previous movies’ timelines is not just bad, it’s arrogant. It’s an arrogance that will likely pay off at the box office but honestly, shouldn’t have been greenlit in the first place. Which is sadly what this franchise has become about. Just release whatever turd you can and you’ll make money out of it. Just make sure that the turd is prettier than the last one. Problem is though, a pretty turd is still a turd.
As for director Michael Bay, I really don’t have any gripes about his role as a director at all. In fact, the best parts of the movie were all the big action sci-fi bits which he has so masterfully recreated here. He literally was given nothing to work with and proceeded to make a movie out of it. Indeed, if mind-blowing action is what you’re looking for, you could argue this is Bay’s best work. So much in fact, that the film has to race through its many scenes to fit it all in and sadly just doesn’t give any of the characters or scenes time to reach their full impact. Even the film’s apocalyptic scale ending leaves you disconnected because there is never one battle to focus on and the editing jumps around so much, that you never truly get to enjoy what is happening anyway.
Indeed, it’s in those closing moments of the film where you should be filled with dread at the fate of the planet earth, but you never do because the film is filled with convenient plot holes, formulaic weaknesses in its villain’s plans and some human characters who somehow break all the rules of physics (and your brain matter) to stay alive. I was left wishing that we could finally see Cybertron restored, the humans all die and finally get to see this whole franchise put out of its misery. Sadly, they’ll be making more of these.
The films biggest redeeming quality though is arguably its humour. Where the previous Transformers films have all been rather heavy-handed at times, this film knows its silly and plays on it. The story is definitely the worst in the franchise history, but its approach perhaps prevents it from falling into the same level of Revenge of the Fallen stupid. But only just.
In the end, the best parts about Transformers: The Last Knight are the trailers. You can save yourself a good two and a half hours by watching those instead and seeing more emotion and character development there than what you get in this film. I think Bay may have found a second calling as a commercial director.
2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction definitely didn’t leave a high bar for any sequels to summit. Just don’t include a scene about justifying statutory rape and you’ve already got a robot leg up on your predecessor. Easy! And yet, Transformers: The Last Knight finds a way to be worse. Oh boy, they find so many ways!
Throughout its torturously bloated 150-minute running time, director Michael Bay and his cadre of screenwriters seem to subscribe to the school of throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. In this case, everything sticks. No, not because any of it is good, but because that’s what happens when you throw faeces against a wall.
Characters, plot points, unforgivably childish humour and oh so many explosions are just flung at the audience at a relentlessly unforgiving pace, all edited in breakneck fashion, prompting a sensory meltdown that just leaves you in a drooling stupor. There are plot holes big enough for a Transformers home planet to fly through, complete with robot demigods that are never explained. A WWI flashback shows up for no reason at all, while the story also gets bundled up with a take on Arthurian myth that doesn’t know whether it wants to be Monty Python and the Holy Grail or Excalibur. Oh and [SLIGHT SPOILER] Optimus Prime is basically only in the movie for about 10 minutes in total yet finds a way to remind us of his name about 17 times.
Meanwhile, headliner Mark Wahlberg is literally there to just swing a sword once and do product placement. Anthony Hopkins – like so many other characters – is all over the place, a doting old English Lord one moment, a cackling sociopath the next, while Laura Haddock is forced to rise above eye-candy status and stripper dress jokes. Newcomer Isabela Moner was initially sold as the young new heroine of this franchise, but instead appears for just a few scenes and is then forgotten. (And is it just me or has Bay has dressed up and filmed this 14-year old girl like some kind of proto-Megan Fox? Stay classy, Transformers!)
Now, this is usually the point of the review where I would insert a “but”, offering something about the movie’s great 3D visuals and sound design as a means to balance the scales, or even how new homicidal robot butler Cogman (voiced by Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter) is actually rather funny in places. Honestly though, no amount of shiny packaging or funny gags can detract from how irredeemably terrible Transformers: The Last Knight is on just about every filmmaking level. I expect (maybe even in our own comments) that somebody will inevitably pipe up to say that we’ve got it all wrong as this movie was not made for critics. Well, here I actually agree with this assertion completely. This isn’t a movie for critics. It also isn’t a movie for anybody who prefers to not have their brains broiled in their skulls from exposure to high levels of searing celluloid shoddiness.
Consistently awful across the board, the latest Transformers is an absolute disaster. There is nothing redeemable about this movie. I’m serious. Nothing. It doesn’t even qualify as cheesy B-Grade cinema, as those movies have far more respect for themselves than Transformers did.
Where do I even begin? The plot, such as it is, makes no sense whatsoever. I had no idea what was going on half the time, and the other half was spent listening to the characters repeat the same bloody thing they had already said four times in that scene. It doesn’t help that all the characters are paper-thin, one-dimensional stereotypes.
The script contains the most atrocious, clichéd, terribly delivered dialogue I’ve ever had to sit through in my life. During the screening I attended, we lost visuals for a couple of minutes, but we still had sound. Sitting there listening to the dialogue made me realise, holy crap. Someone was actually paid (and probably handsomely) to write this drivel. It was shockingly bad. Without the ADHD visuals to distract me, just listening to what the characters were trying to say was… mind-boggling.
The visuals are overwrought and over-stimulating. There’s a point where impeccable detail on CGI characters becomes too much, and that point was passed long ago. If that wasn’t enough, true to Michael Bay form, everything in the movie (from the junkyard cars to the buildings to the freaking pavement) is filled with fireworks, just waiting to be exploded.
I’m not even going to bother to delve into the pacing (0-100mph and back every five minutes, repeat ad nauseam), editing (migraine and/or epilepsy-inducing) or the plot-holes (large enough to lose a giant metal dinosaur in).
Transformers: The Last Knight is utter trash. There is no enjoyment to be had, and no amount of suspension of disbelief will make it good entertainment.
Rating: 1/10 (but only because I feel sorry for Anthony Hopkins)
This movie left me in such a catatonic state I wasn’t able to actually write anything. Instead, I was examined by a doctor who declared me brain-dead (something we’ve suspected all along) which meant I was actually able to speak about the movie. Speak? Nay, rant like a lobotomized lunatic.
Last Updated: June 21, 2017
Consistently cringe-worthy, Transformers: The Last Knight is terribly paced, scripted and acted. Even die-hard fans of the franchise might struggle with this one.
June 21, 2017 at 10:43
So I take it we will only get maybe 4 more movies in this franchise.