Transformers: The Last Knight FILM REVIEW
TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT
Director: Michael Bay
Screenplay: Art Marcum & Matt Holloway & Ken Nolan
Story: Akiva Goldsman and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway & Ken Nolan
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock, Stanley Tucci, Isabela Moner
Rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of sci-fi action, language, and some innuendo
Running Time: 2 hours 28 minutes
**1/2 out of *****
Photo: Paramount Pictures/Di Bonaventura Pictures
Mark Wahlberg, returning as Cade Yeager, takes aim in TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT.
For nearly a decade the TRANSFORMERS live-action franchise has proven to be a highly lucrative film series. As a whole, the Michael Bay directed series is approaching the four billion dollar mark in global box office. Despite the financial success the series has been a victim of the law of diminishing returns not in terms of box office but in terms of quality storytelling. Ever since the first film, released in 2007, every subsequent film has, to put it delicately, sucked. The second film, REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, was an incoherent and unfocused mess. The third film, DARK OF THE MOON, was an improvement but was still pretty bad. The fourth film, AGE OF EXTINCTION, was a laborious and insufferable exercise in excess. Now comes the fifth film in the series, TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, which proves to be the best film in the series since the 2007 original and for many reasons it's too little too late.
Since the beginning the series had yet to deliver a story that not only lived up to the cartoon series or the 1986 animated film, which for many is still the best TRANSFORMERS film ever made, but also give fans the Transformers-centric story they want to see. Fans agree that the films should be about the robots and not the humans but the latter is who Bay has time and again chosen to focus upon throughout the series. THE LAST KNIGHT attempts to rectify that despite still being a very much human story. This highly ambitious, world-building, 'throw in the kitchen sink' entry provides more backstory about the Transformers than any previous entry. Unlike the other films in the series it is actually coherent and memorable. I genuinely cannot recall the driving force or conflict which fueled each of the previous films. This film is driving towards something and even though it's overloaded you can actually follow what's going on and as a result the film proves to be tolerable and watchable.
This film would have worked best had it been the second or third movie in the series. Up to this point, the sequels involved forgettable story lines and conflicts and felt hobbled together to do just what was intended...sell toys. Bay and his consortium of writers attempt to build a mythology, and re-write some world history, around the Transformers and their presence on Earth throughout the ages. The film opens in the Dark Ages where we are told the Transformers had a part in the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Throughout the film, numerous expository scenes layout the history of the Transformers and how they were involved in many historic events but were kept hidden from mankind. The world-building proved to be the most interesting part of this film.
Returning to the series is Mark Wahlberg, who first appeared in AGE OF EXTINCTION. He's seems to be having much more fun in this one and it shows in his performance. Certainly not his finest work but he does just enough to convince you things are as real as him talking to a tree. Josh Duhamel also returns as Colonel Lennox who leads a task force trying to find out just what everyone is up to and why. The most notable newcomer is Isabela Moner who plays Izabella, a spunky fourteen year old girl who has a knack for fixing things. She appears to fill the role of Spike, the young kid in the animated series, but ultimately her inclusion seems to serve more as a way for the young audience to have someone to connect with. She does fine with a fairly two-dimensional character. Laura Haddock also stars as Vivian, a teacher who gets caught up in the adventure and Sir Anthony Hopkins stars as Sir Edmund Burton, a mysterious British earl who seems to have his hands in everything. Each new film has introduced a new yet forgettable Transformer but unlike its predecessors, Cogman proves to be a funny and endearing character thanks to the voice work of Jim Carter.
It's unfortunate that Bay would follow up one of his best films, 13 HOURS, with this one. 13 HOURS reminded me of why I liked Bay in the first place but these TRANSFORMERS films seem to have robbed him of his creativity and ingenuity. It doesn't matter how big your frame is or how state of the art your visual effects are if your story and execution are inert. While THE LAST KNIGHT is a significant improvement over the previous sequels it still isn't very exciting or captivating. On the plus side it is never boring which pretty much sums up the last film. I kind of liked the first film but it doesn't hold a candle to the animated movie. I can't say I've been a fan of this series even though I've seen them all. Now, had this been the second film it might have struck me as a crazy but cool launching point for this universe and who knows where they could have gone with a more focused through line for the films that followed. I would have been interested in seeing just where this would go. However, now it's too little too late. I've pretty much given up on the series long ago and despite some intriguing fantasy elements and some much needed fan service I really have no vested interest in seeing just where this is all heading.
***** = Outstanding ****1/2 = Excellent **** = Very Good ***1/2 = Above Average
*** = Good **1/2 = Mediocre ** = Fair *1/2 = Poor * = Bad 1/2* = Abysmal