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Review: “Transformers: The Last Knight”

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By now we all know what we should come to expect from a Michael Bay led “Transformers” movie: mindless action, an abundance of explosions, a bit of female exploitation, over-the-top attempts at culturally relevant comedy, and lot and lots of product placement. Despite the franchises horrendous quality record there’s always been at least one thing redeemable about any film in the series to this point. Unfortunately that ends with the latest addition to this tired franchise, “Transformers: The Last Night”, which fails to be even mildly mind numbingly entertaining presenting the most lifeless, dull, and unwatchable entry in this long-running cash grab to date.

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“The Last Knight” explores the history of the Transformers on earth dating back to the middle-ages and the time of King Arthur, who turns out to be more than a legend as well as his wizard friend Merlin (played by a tremendously miscast Stanley Tucci who was originally announced to reprise his role from “Age of Extinction”). With Optimus Prime having returned to a now destroyed Cybertron, humans and the Transformers are at war with Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager helping protect the Autobots from a new army of anti-Transformer mercenaries. When Yeager comes across one Transformer who bestows a medallion upon him he becomes embroiled in an legendary conflict that puts him in the middle of a defining battle for both Earth and Cybertron with Optimus Prime corrupted by Cybertron’s creator and the Prime of Life Quintessa to hunt down an artifact that would see life on Earth end and Cybertron reborn.

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If that summary was hard to follow then you should probably avoid this movie…because that’s just the tip of the iceberg in a film so convoluted and muddled that even the characters rarely seem to understand what in the world is going on. I’m going to be brutal here (and I’ve had 24 hours to digest this movie mind you) in saying this is THE least redeemable “Transformers” film to date. The film follows a story that explores humanity’s long-lasting connection with the Cybertronian transformers and even explored a hidden secret about Earth itself that, if you know your Transformers history, is actually quite an intriguing twist, but it’s all for not as there’s nothing in this film that allows you to invest at all in the story the filmmakers seemingly wanted to tell. There’s too much going on and, ironically at the same time, not enough as the film trades in story and pace for attempts as quality action and intensity failing on all counts.

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One of the longest running complaints about the “Transformers” movies is its heavy reliance on man over machine, in other worlds way too much human conflict and not enough inter-warrior battles between the titular robots in disguise. I bring that up because if that was a problem for you before, this film is the worst sinner of them all in putting the focus on the humans over the actual Transformers. Much of the film focsuses on Wahlberg’s Cade and Laura Haddock’s Oxford professor Vivian Wembly as the two join an out of place Anthony Hopkins who has hidden the secret of the Transformers history for decades. Together they seek out an object that could turn the tide in the brewing war between humanity and machine, but the are accompanied by only a handful of robots who pretty much just act as nothing more than transportation for much of the film.

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“The Last Knight” only has two real Transformer battle scenes that don’t really pay off at all by the end of the film. The final battle is so predictable and anticlimactic you can see it coming from a mile away, including a corny speech by Optimus Prime and the humans being the deciding factors in the inevitable conclusion. For a franchise built on robot-on-robot violence this movie is sorely lacking, featuring more robots escaping humans than each other and at no time does it feel like the Autobots may actually lose this battle. At least the previous films showed a bit of peril and hopelessness for its heroes, but here it’s as predictable as can be from start to finish. It’s formulaic in almost every way. I had the whole plot, well what I felt I could comprehend of it, playing out in my head almost exactly as it would eventually happen within the movies’s first hour.

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I’m not going to bother breaking down some of the specifics of this film. I can sumarize it all right here. The script, the plot, the acting, the action, it’s all just so boring and uninteresting it’s not even worth diving into. Even the comedy is off point here despite efforts by Stanley Tucci and Anthony Hopkins, probably the two most talented actors in this crazy snooze fest, to try to put some life into this project. The series is tired, and you can feel it. As horrible as the previous movies were, at least each had a redeeming factor. For one it was non-stop action, another comedic effect, and at least for the first movie it was a genuine love-letter to the source material. Here “The Last Knight” is none of those things. This is a film with no soul, no heart, and no life and not even the actors can bring anything redeemable to the table. It pains me to say watching “The Last Knight” made me yearn for its horrendous predecessors that at least showed some personality even if they were mindless and horrible films in their own right.

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All that said let me explain the one and only aspect of the film I DID enjoy. Because this film explores the history of the Transformers on earth it helps bring some of the larger stories full circle. Like, for example, the Witwiccan Order which reveals, through pictures and exposition, that the Witwicky family (remember Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky from the first three films) has always been connected in some way to the legacy of the Transformers on the planet and that even Bumblebee has a past history with Earth. Even still these revelations, as mildly fun as they are, and a few unrelated reveals and twists open up so many continuity errors for the series as a whole it’s not even funny. Like, for example, didn’t the wormhole in “Dark of the Moon” destroy Cyberton? If Earth is really what it ends up being in one of the twists then that throws almost everything from the first two movies out of whack right? Not to mention numerous other questions that I can’t ask here for the sake of avoiding spoilers.

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As you can probably tell, I was not impressed with “The Last Knight”. It’s a mess from start to finish. There’s not even a hint of effort to make this a redeemable film. Everything and anything that COULD be seen as enjoyable about the previous entries is gone here. The film spends way too much time focusing on the humans, not enough time focusing on inter-Transformer battles, presents a convoluted plot that opens up countless plot holes, and is so lifeless, formulaic, predictable, and downright boring that by the end of the first hour you’ll be looking at your watch wondering when the movie will actually get going and sadly it never really does. It’s a prime example of franchise fatigue, only this time the movie itself feels tired drawn out. “The Last Knight” is unfortunately probably destined to be a financial hit, but here’s hoping that the future of this seemingly endless franchise is a lot brighter than this film makes it out to be, especially with a film universe being formed to continue its not to glorious legacy.

 

 

 

GRADE: 1 Star

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