Humans are at war with the Transformers, and Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving the future lies buried in the secrets of the past and the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. Now, it’s up to the unlikely alliance of inventor Cade Yeager, Bumblebee, an English lord and an Oxford professor to save the world.
In the fifth and supposedly final installment of the Michael Bay directed Transformer films we’re sent back in time to the days of King Arthur where he and his knights are being outnumbered on the battlefield. Soon we discover that the Transformer race have played a pivotal role in the majority of historic events. Ridiculous right? If you’re still sticking around to watch these films at this point in the series these ideas aren’t as whack as you think. Bay loves to show scale and he does it quite well with the medieval fight at the start. The large set piece shows what Bay excels at.
Like the previous four films, the film suffers thanks to stereotyping characters which comes off as racist and for cringe inducing humor that plays for cheap laughs. The films are big 140+ minute action blockbusters but what holds them back from ever being decent is the shoehorned comedy that doesn’t add anything to the film. There’s one character in particular in The Last Knight that is aggressively annoying with his constant interruptions and out of nowhere quips.
The most interesting part of these films has always been the Transformers and their unknown history. Obviously human characters are needed to provide a perspective for viewers but there is a long list of characters in the franchise that are thinly written with one or two recognizable traits. Maybe in the hands of a different director and writer they could inject some life back into the property by creating interesting characters that are likeable and that viewers could root for. In The Last Knight Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager comes off as more of an ass than in Age of Extinction. His natural on screen presence helps to salvage the character but the role of Yeager is just yelling at other characters.
Anthony Hopkins plays a historian that knows more about the Transformers than the average person. He doesn’t phone it in here as it looks like he’s actually having fun as the eccentric astronomer. Laura Haddock plays Viviane, an English literature professor at Oxford University. She’s fine here but she doesn’t have a lot to work with which seems to be the case with almost every film by the director. Michael Bay doesn’t seem interested in creating female characters with depth, instead looking solely for eye candy. It’s disappointing as Haddock has proven that she’s a talented actress but here she walks around in tight, low cut clothing. The young tomboy Izabelle is a nice addition to the film and was used heavily in marketing to target the younger demographic. Here she has some decent scenes with Wahlberg but unfortunately disappears for 90 minutes and the void is felt.
With Bay’s typical slow motion low angle shots, the film is excruciatingly long. Even though they move locations often we’re following around a bunch of bland characters that don’t offer any reason for us to like and root for them. Though the newest installment has a more cohesive story than prior films it is still bogged down by overlong set pieces and unnecessary comedic scenes. Every line in this film is exposition which includes people spewing scientific terms which is overwhelmingly often.
Minus the opening set piece, the first two acts are flat out boring. For an impending threat that could end the world there is no urgency from the characters and it doesn’t seem like there are any stakes. We know what’s going to happen by the end of the film but we want to at least feel the tension and believe they’re in danger. The third act of the film features some fantastic moments of action that are in contention for the best in the series. By that time the audience is so drained from the first two hours that it is often mind numbing, loud explosions with no substance to it.
Transformers: The Last Knight has glimpses of an entertaining movie but thanks to the many ‘Bayisms” it results in it being just another Transformers movie. The film is all bark but no bite. At this point in the franchise not even the Transformers themselves can save the films, we’ve seen it all before. The characters are boring and unlikeable, the comedy is in poor taste and the action will likely cause a headache. If this is the end of the Bayhem-Transformers era it’s about time.