God it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Helping plan a wedding is no great shakes as I’ve found out these past two years, but that’s not our subject for today. No, today my friends we are discussing the Cecil B. DeMille of our time, a man of such enormous talent, he can’t direct anything on camera without it exploding. Joking aside, Michael Bay has made a living off of ridiculously dumb movies about fighting robots and irritating side characters (or at least the humans should be, it would make for a more compelling set of films) for the past decade, and this stupidity peaks in the fifth instalment, Transformers: The Last Knight, a film so bafflingly convoluted and insultingly hollow that it almost defies explanation. I’m coming into this as a fan of the franchise, hell to some extent I even enjoy most of the other films (I’ll save my overwhelmingly negative thoughts on Dark of the Moon for a rewatch and review someday), but this is just the pits in terms of Transformers, Bay’s other work, even in terms of summer popcorn flicks in general.
I would normally give a plot synopsis here but in the case of this 149 minute behemoth, I can barely even say anything because it jumps around so much I’m convinced there is no main plot at all, only side plots. The basic gist of it is that current holder of “worst character name ever” award Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg returning from the last film) is helping the good transformers and the government is trying to destroy all of them because all transformers are bad and the bad transformers just kind of exist and then we’re suddenly in England because there’s some King Arthur related bullshit which was introduced in the opening sequence where Stanley Tucci (the only person trying in the last film) plays a drunken Merlin and does not return as his character from the last film in the present and then there’s Anthony Hopkins and he has a robot butler voiced by Carson and oh sweet giblets his dialogue is the worst and then there’s this budget British girl (guesses from the audience of about 5 when I saw this included Emily Blunt and Daisy Ridley) who learns that magic is real and there’s a young orphan called Izzy who has a pet Vespa robot and does nothing and John Tuturro is back but he’s in Cuba for the whole movie and does nothing and Optimus Prime is in a grand total of 3 or 4 scenes and he fights Bumblebee like in the trailers and the posters but it’s over in about a minute and he’s only involved in the climax so he can do his whole epic speech at the end because series requirement and Jesus I could make a fucking 3 hour movie about all its flaws and I still wouldn’t capture how abysmal this thing is. Yes, this paragraph is a mess but it’s the only way I can truly capture how it feels to watch this dumpster heap. The writers of Iron Man did the screenplay for this, let that sink in….
On the technical side of things, this is the first Transformers film where the visuals just don’t cut it for me. Age of Extinction was the start but the effects of The Last Knight just feel stagnant and uninteresting. Effects that were impressive in 2007 just don’t have the same impact now, especially considering the level of visual and technical prowess on display in other summer blockbusters. The score is passable and sometimes upgrades to rather enjoyable but the same can be said for all other films of the franchise. Bay’s obsession with shiny cars driving into the sunset or through the desert persists, and I don’t know if this was a specific quirk of the film but when I saw it in theatres the aspect ratio would change from shot to shot, it was disorientating to say the least. In terms of voice acting for the Transformers, it is actually wonderful to hear Frank Welker as Megatron (who I thought was Galvatron at this point but who’s really paying attention to the plot anymore?) again, and Peter Cullen as Optimus is as always the only element of these films I would call competently executed, considering the caliber of the voice actors here (these two are just important franchise staples, we’ve also got John Goodman, Ken Watanabe and Steve Buschemi who’s robot is in one scene and does nothing) it’s a shame they have to lend their voices to this script and it kind of baffles me that this franchise continues to attract talent even now.
Judging from the box office numbers of The Last Knight, the Tranformers’ money making power is slowing down in the movie department. The reality is that word of mouth seems to drive the success of blockbuster season far more than it used to, and the biggest crime of Transformers 5 is that it goes against the inherently necessary quality of a popcorn flick; its level of inconsequetialism renders it dreadfully boring. Michael Bay’s casually sexist, racist characters and penchant for pointless explosions without story or meaning don’t really have place in this current movie climate to me. There was a time where I could enjoy these movies, and even rewatching the first one today, it’s silly but it’s a remarkably straightforward little movie by comparison. As an avid fan of the franchise who has seen almost all the cartoons, seen all these films in theatres, used to collect the toys and has played the video games, this is one of the most frustratingly confusing and forgettable films I think I’ve ever seen. I can’t remember one distinctive line of dialogue, one funny moment, one interesting set piece, there’s just nothing. If this film were a Transformer, it would be the constantly foreshadowed Unicron; a draining beast of a thing that is nothing more that a figurative black hole, leaving destruction and boredom in its wake. I am never watching this tripe again…. Until the inevitable sixth film releases anyway…..
We don’t like ratings, but if we did, it would be a 2 out of 10, until next time….