The one with King Arthur, a robot dragon, Anthony Hopkins and an evil Optimus Prime
The Good: Breaks the boundaries of CGI rendered destruction, incorporates even more fantastical elements of the cartoons, perfect special effects, standout performances
The Bad: barely serviceable soundtrack, chaotic camerawork, incoherent narrative, script filled with contrived coincidences, senseless humour
Just when you I thought a franchise had clawed itself out of the gutter, it dives right back in with a steaming pile of trash called TRANSFORMERS THE LAST KNIGHT. Continuity, a darker more serious tone, memorable characters, throw all that out the window. With this movie, we are back to borderline offensive cultural stereotypes, convoluted retcons that contradict past Transformers movies, inconsistent characterisation, and a plot that meanders its way from one logic defying plot hole ridden action sequence to another. No explanations are given for abilities that characters suddenly have and the entire movie feels like many movies crammed into one.
After the events or TRANSFORMERS AGE OF EXTINCTION, nearly nothing has changed. Transformers are still being hunted, though only to be imprisoned rather than killed, the Autobots are in hiding and Optimus has not been heard from since he left for space. It seems logic caught up with Optimus and his rocket powered cosmic adventure has left him out of fuel right around Saturn. But no worries, a mysterious force captures Prime and turns him against his former allies. Back on earth, fellow Autobot Bumblebee has befriended a new ally, 16 year old Isabella.
This spunky girl, orphaned in the battle of Chicago back in TRANSFORMERS DARK OF THE MOON has since been hiding out in the city ruins with her transformer pal Canopy. An unprovoked Attack by the “Transformers Response Force”(TRF) ends up with Canopy killed, Bumblebee and Cade Yeager from the previous movie rescuing Isabella, and the way too convenient discovery of an ancient “knight of cybertron” who just happens to be hidden and dying in the ruins of Chicago.
Before all that we are treated to some continuity wrecking flashbacks showing that Transformers had been active on earth, shaping history in medieval times, complete with an actual King Arthur and Merlin, and world war 2.
But I digress. Back to the present day, the authorities want to hunt down Yeager all of a sudden and recruit Decepticons to help them. In the meantime, an English gentleman played by Anthony Hopkins is seeking out Yeager as Yeager has conveniently come into possession of the Excalibur sword and it is somehow tied to ancient Transformers. Arthurian legend, fugitives in hiding, an unlikely partnership between humans and evil transformers, ancient conspiracy, and into all this comes a vengeance fueled Optimus Prime turned evil by a being known as Quintessa, who claimed to be the creator of the transformers.
Confused yet? Well remember cybertron from the third movie? It is back again and on a collision course with earth. Again. There is an underwater alien ship that surfaces to serve as a set piece for an anti climatic duel, people and robots in the sky (rhymes with robots in disguise) fighting on floating land masses, every battle a display of physics defying shenanigans all in a bid to outdo the craziness of every science fiction blockbuster up to this point! To call Michael Bay’s style excessive is like calling sea water salty. It’s pretty much a given for his movies where a giant robot dinosaur rolling across a junkyard of crushed cars can produce random explosions every time he touches the ground as if he rolled over a minefield. It’s all very crazy but not in the enjoyable sense. The wide lingering shots and clear cinematography from the previous movie has reverted to his more infamous jittery shots, tight close ups, and generally chaotic camerawork. To make matters worse, all this mayhem is accompanied by one of the dullest movie scores ever by Steve Jablonsky; a hodgepodge of electronic droning and deep bass groaning, devoid of any originality or energy.
Even to enjoy this as a sequel is rendered nearly impossible by the inconsistencies with last movies. How is Bumblebee suddenly able to divide himself into parts and then control his parts to combine back into a whole transformer? How is Galvatron suddenly back to Megatron again?? Where are the other dinobots??? This is all pittance compared to the humongous retcons extending all the way back to the very first movie as if to pretend that all of it never happened.
It does seem bad but to call this film a disaster would be a discredit to some of its redeeming factors. The actors are fantastic. Mark Wahlberg brings an earnest unlikely hero vibe perfect for the character of Yeager although Isabela Moner as Izabella was the breakout role of the movie, turning in a powerful performance as the strong willed orphan. The transformers are all given memorable personalities and voices, key of which is the portrayal of Decepticon leader Megatron. After 5 movies, he has finally come to resemble his cartoon counterpart in mannerism, appearance and voice.
A shame that a lackluster script courtesy of the Writers of the equally lackluster PUNISHER WAR ZONE movie, fails to do justice to the acting talent on display. Worse is how Optimus Prime is written, completely undoing the character development he had gone through so far. It is a script and story filled to the brim with forced, senseless humour, contrived coincidences and plot conveniences. With a plan to expand into an entire shared universe of spinoffs, the franchise had overstayed it’s welcome by one movie. This one.
Replay value: B