There are movies that are bad. There are movies that are stupid. There are movies that are insane. And then… there are movies that are Transformers: The Last Knight. This is a film, directed by the destroyer of childrens’ dreams, Michael Bay, that is so aggressively stupid while at the same time taking itself entirely too serious. Bay is the kind of soulless human being that takes everything that people love about the movies out of the movies he makes for the most part. In fact, I can name all the Michael Bay movies I’ve enjoyed on one hand: The Rock and Bad Boys II (if only because the latter at least embraces its stupidity). The Island is OK.
Do you even care about the plot? For some reason, the transformers date back to the Dark Ages of England with King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. After Merlin the wizard (Stanley Tucci, who is almost unrecognizable) acquires a magical staff from one of the machines that allows him to help Arthur defend his land, the item is hidden and can only be utilized by a descendant of Merlin’s ancestry. Naturally, everyone is now after it because it will allow total destruction of the world or something. This includes the Autobots, the Decepticons, Sir Edmund (Anthony Hopkins), Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), Vivianne Wembly (Laura Haddock) and the military. “Exciting” action scenes ensue.
Fan of the series, don’t worry because a lot of the same crap is back: you’ve still got your insanely long action sequences that are edited with the attention span of a five-year old child, borderline racist/sexist macho humour that is typically eye-rolling and ridiculous and other huge stretches of humour that just doesn’t work from paper-thin characters who you don’t give a shit about in general. Ever since that ridiculous American Pie-esque scene in the second film, I checked out and didn’t even bother with the third and fourth entry in the franchise. After watching this one, I wish I had stuck to my word.
There is NOTHING redeeming or “good” about this movie. Nothing. Mark Wahlberg is a very entertaining guy but he looks like he would rather be anywhere else and the same can be said for Anthony Hopkins, who it seems that by way of lending his credibility to this film, it has sucked his body dry like a vacuum cleaner. There is literally nothing special to say about any off the actors. Stanley Tucci has a brief part that was mildly enjoyable but didn’t really stick around long enough to make any kind of impact. Josh Duhamel is there and reads his lines. The great John Turturro has about 10 lines in the whole movie. Laura Haddock is a new addition to the film and is pretty much a paper-thin character coupled with a decidedly average performance.
I will say that the first 10-15 minutes of the film gave me a small sliver of hope. While I don’t think that it was good or anything, the idea that the transformers date back to the time of King Arthur and the knights was just ridiculous enough for me to be okay with it but then they treat it so seriously and with such weight and gravitas (attempts at it, anyway) that it all just falls flat on its face. The rest of the movie then just keeps getting worse and worse with awful dialogue (that early stuff between the kids was so damn cringey) that is either expositional (aka any scene involving Anthony Hopkins), borderline offensive or just such nonsense that I just completely checked out in a haze of rage.
Another thing that is especially troublesome about the script is the unevenness of the whole thing. While they set up an interesting concept of the military going after any Transformers good or bad and grouping them all together as the enemy, it never reaches the appropriate amount of subtext that would have been rewarding. I know this is a big, stupid film but that could’ve been something to latch onto especially given our political climate. But no, Bay would rather show jerk-off shots of planes taking off and metal clanking together coupled with big explosions. Inexplicably, he would rather have Anthony Hopkins talk for an eternity about someone being the descendant of Merlin or some shit rather than just let us slowly figure out through its entire 148-minute (!) runtime.
People may ask “but didn’t you enjoy the special effects? And oh, it’s so action-packed!” Yeah, that did nothing for me either. To have an action movie with some good special effects and high-octane action sequences is one thing but much like the other films in this series, those scenes go on for way too long and just become monotonous and painful to watch. After a while, I just got tired of hearing metal clank together and Autobots and Decepticons alike getting shot and blown up with almost no consequences. How am I supposed to be worried about stakes or the fate of a character if they seemingly can’t be killed no matter what happens to them?
I would like to apologize to the makers of The Mummy (just kidding – it’s still awful); THIS is the worst film of the year and easily the worst Michael Bay film ever as well. Yikes.
RATING: ZERO (No stars)
Less than * (Actively offensive to one’s intelligence)
* (Brutal; bottom-of-the-barrel)
** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)
*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)
**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)
***** (Flawless; a true achievement)