The Transformers franchise had once been synonymous with fantastic action and gripping adventure, back in the good old days prior to CGI and Michael Bay’s unbridled obsession with haphazard story lines, explosions and more explosions. Sadly, gone are the days of great science-fiction story-telling and wondrous action and adventure.
Transformers: The Last Knight (“The Last Knight”) is the fifth installment of the Michael Bay led film franchise, which began back in 2007, when ‘hot’ females mattered and Shia LaBeouf was still sane. This iteration of the film certainly threw caution out the door and dove right in to over-zealous action sequences, excessive use of explosions and a misguided plot, which didn’t appear to fit seamlessly with the previous films’ continuity.
Last Knight derives it’s narrative from the middle ages, dating the first arrival of Transformers to Earth to the time of King Arthur. The main plot of the film stems from the passing on of the Transformers’ futuristic technology, in the form of a staff, to Merlin, who saw it as magic which could end wars. This staff is essentially what gave life to Cybertron, the planet from which the Transformers hail and the entire plot is to essentially stop the staff from falling into the hands of the sorceress Quintessa, who claims to be the creator of all life on Cybertron, the Autobots included.
The plot isn’t anything new or original, in which an alien planet led by a greedy leader, desperately attempts to conquer Earth, using her minions, in this case “Nemesis” Prime, to do her bidding and destroy Earth. In come the Autobots, who have been living in secret with Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), to protect Earth and the people who are hell bent on having them detained. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Transformers film without Megatron and his Decepticons to throw a spanner in the works.
Despite attempting to provide some history to the Transformers, the film failed to really carry its story with narrative that appeared haphazard and with an extremely ineffective use of cringe-worthy humour. Even though I laughed at many of the jokes made throughout the film, it was more out of pure disbelief that such a strong franchise could stoop so low as to even reduce the great Sir Anthony Hopkins to saying “dude” and attempting to be ‘hip’.
Just as the humour appeared pointless, so to were many of the characters. Once again it was Optimus Prime, Bumble Bee and Megatron who took centre stage, with the other Autobots and Decepticons playing merely a support role. This needless inclusion of characters even extended to some of the human characters, such as U.S. Army Colonel, William Lennox (Josh Duhamel), who really didn’t need to be in the film at all and Izabella (Isabela Moner), an orphaned girl who Cade takes in but doesn’t spend a whole lot of time with.
Further to the many pointless inclusions in the film, one of the biggest disappointments (apart from not walking out of the film all together) for me was the terrible misuse of plot device, which happened to have been the whole point of the film’s story. The whole point of the film was for Cade to use the talisman, which had bonded to him, to locate the staff. During a crucial moment toward the climax of the film, the talisman turns into a sword, which Cade uses to defend Optimus and then…both the sword and talisman literally disappear and are never seen again. You know, because that’s exactly what happens to a major plot device in film.
Out of all the disappointments I had with the film, the one that got to me the most was the portrayal of Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock). Initially, I truly believed she’d be the saving grace of the film as a strong, independent woman, who, as a University Professor is highly intelligent and needs no man. I thoroughly enjoyed the way she continually shot down Cade and held her own. Of course, having an independent female character in a film such as this, who doesn’t eventually fall for the good looking male protagonist, is a pipe dream and this was proved to be the case in The Last Knight as Vivian instantly changed her stance about Cade as soon as he lifted his t-shirt to reveal well-defined six pack abs. Typical.
Next to Vivian, the only other character who seemed marginally interesting was Cogman (voiced by Jim Carter), the ‘headmaster’ Transformer (a Transformer fused with an organic life-form), who works as a butler to Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins). The normally polite and proper Cogman had some serious anger issues, which was mildly humorous and was the only entertaining aspect of the entire film. Alas, even this was over done, which resulted in me becoming quite annoyed with Cogman by the end of the film.
The premise of the film could definitely have been interesting, had it been handled well, with a solid script and decent world building and character development. Sadly, The Last Knight’s attempt of this was handled poorly and inevitably was just one big mess. It was almost as if the high paced action scenes were a mere disguise to mask the failings of the film.
Usually, where the plot is lacking in a film, there is at least some decent visuals and/or soundtrack to enjoy. Sadly, even the visuals in The Last Knight were utterly disappointing and a glorious soundtrack was virtually non-existent.
If nostalgia and decent plot is what you’re looking for in the Michael Bay led Transformers film, you’d best look elsewhere. Transformers: The Last Knight was an entirely disappointing film, of which I cannot see any future for. Perhaps a reboot is in order.