Transformers: The Last Knight Review
A fun performance from Anthony Hopkins is this film's only saving grace.
Transformers: The Last Knight begins with Optimus Prime still seeking out his creators after the events of Transformers: Age of Extinction. He travels through space to his home planet Cybertron in order to get some answers, while, back on Earth, the rest of the Autobots are fugitives from the world’s governments. Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) whom you may remember from the previous film as a failed inventor who lost his wife, has taken in some of the more well known Autobots as he scavenges junk yards and similar areas for parts and, presumably, answers. What’s the big question? Why do Transformers keep coming to Earth? Out of the trillions of billions of destinations, what’s so special about this place?
During one of his scavenger missions, he ends up coming to the aid of a few too-curious-for-their-own-good children who have managed to not only awaken an ancient Autobot but run afoul of the Transformers Reaction Force (TRF). The TRF are a global organization that hunts down Transformers of any kind, regardless of affiliation. After a brief escape, Yeager speaks with the ancient Autobot. Apparently dying, the robot gifts a talisman to Yeager before system shutdown. Not knowing what to make of things, he heads home, with one of the kids, Izabella (Isabela Moner), secretly following. He takes her into his dysfunctional family before all hell breaks loose.
It turns out the talisman is tied to the shared history of Earth and the Transformers. It’s mysteries are best kept for the viewing experience but suffice it to say, it is very important. Yeager is told as much by Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins), the last member of a society tasked with keeping the ancient secrets of the Transformers’ escapades on Earth throughout history. Also caught up in all of this is Viviane Wembly (Laura haddock), a Professor at the University of Oxford. Her destiny is tied to the secrets of the talisman as well, thus joining her path with Yeager’s for the foreseeable future. While all of this is happening, we find out that Cybertron is on a collision course with Earth. The TRF and the Decepticons, who’ve been biding their time in the shadows, strike a bargain in order to save the planet, while Yeager, Viviane and crew seek out technology that can help them save humanity.
I’ve never been what you would call a “fan” of the Transformers film franchise, but I loved the show as a kid. I enjoyed Bay’s first installment immensely, but the second one was one of the worst movies ever made. Then the third one gave me renewed hope, until the fourth one shattered my dreams like Ronda Rousey’s pride. That back and forth gave me a little hope for this next film but I’m sorry to say it was all a dream. While not quite as bad as the second film in the franchise, it was only slightly better than the fourth film. That is, it was only not a complete waste of my time because of Anthony Hopkins and Cogman (Jim Carter), his trusty Transformer partner in the film. It was fun to see Hopkins play the kind of character he does, when juxtaposed against his normal fare. Meanwhile, Cogman was hilarious for the most part, although I do think they overused his comedic stylings and underused his fighting abilities. Another newcomer was comedian and sitcom star Jerrod Carmichael as Cade Yeager’s hired help Jimmy (who was actually supposed to be named Jerrod in the film, like Isabela Moner was named Izabella. Hmm). While he wasn’t too annoying overall, many of his jokes fell flat for me. One of the reasons for this could be how mindful he had to be of his global audience. An article I read quoted him as saying he even had to change jokes because, while they were hilarious, they wouldn’t be hilarious anywhere but in the United States. That’s gotta be a huge distraction for any artist, but to have your comedy, which comes from such a personal space, be dictated in that way couldn’t have made his job any easier. Obviously, it did not. As for Laura Haddock’s character, I will say this was the first time I wasn’t completely annoyed by how Bay portrays women in his films. It wasn’t the bastion of hope that Wonder Woman was, but it wasn’t as egregious as usual either. In the Transformers series specifically, the female characters have been nothing but stereotypes. To be honest, all the characters in the films are just stereotypes but I’ve always felt that women got it the worst. The character of Izabella was portrayed pretty well by Isabela Moner. She acted beautifully. It’s too bad the character was written like trash. This whole movie is garbage, how about that? I’m really trying to be objective and set a bar here but I honestly would never watch this film again.
What makes things worse is that this movie was written by the new Transformers writers group that will be building out the franchise. I’m not impressed. It’s enough to make you never want to watch another one. Hey Bay, did you not seen Pacific Rim? That’s an example of how to do popcorn, big budget, robot-smashy movies properly. Go take notes. Another thing? Don't trust the marketing on this one. It's not what you think. This is supposedly Michael Bay’s last Transformers movie but so was the last one. I hope they decide to go a different direction from here out. If the domestic box office is any indicator, they just might have to.