Let’s be honest, at this point if you’re going to plop down cash to go see Michael Bay’s latest installment in the Transformers franchise, Transformers: The Last Knight, you pretty much know what you’re getting into. It packs in the regular combination of as many Transformers marketing opportunities as possible and some of the biggest stomp-on-a-city action sequences as we’re likely to see until Pacific Rim 2 shows up in early 2018.
Once again, there’s another special something that hidden/buried/kept on Earth that keeps on attracting Transformers like so many moths to a flame. This time the film comes up with a storyline so stretched to the breaking point that it gets thinner whenever I try to think of how to describe it: King Arthur, Lancelot, and the rest of round table were helped along in defending Britain because Merlin had found and befriended some shipwrecked Transformers. This set of oversized toy robots are twelve Transformer Knights who decide to help Arthur and his cause because the Transformers decide they respect the humans’ sense of honor. Yes, really. The Transformers gift a “weapon of ultimate power” in the form of a staff to Merlin (which can only be wielded by Merlin’s direct descendants).
Jump forward to the modern day where you have Anthony Hopkins playing Sir Edmund Burton who is the last of a family who has been keeping the secret of Merlin and Arthur for 16 centuries. Merlin’s staff of power was actually stolen by the Knights from Quintessa (voiced by Gemma Chan) who is implied to be the creator of the Transformer race. Now that Cybertron has been destroyed, the only thing that can restore it is by the trashed Transformer homeworld’s traveling to Earth and draining out the Earth’s energy (yea, it’s pretty much the plot of Independence Day: Resurgence).
Mark Whalberg is back as Cade and comes off as a discount old-man Logan level of grumpy towards those around him because of all of his inner angst. He picks up the survivor-headstrong girl named
X-23 Rey Izabella (Isabela Moner, yup, they couldn’t even come up with a name for her, so they just changed a letter). Then they need an older female character so they pick up a beautiful and brilliant Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock). She’s a multi-Doctoral professor, and the only thing they can write for Cade to say is he chastises Vivian for being intelligent and tells her she dresses like a stripper. Bay seems to want to do well with progressive character types, but then doesn’t know what to do with them so has the rest of his characters act like dicks to them and leave them hanging like wallflowers.
One of the best characters this time around is Downton Abby’s Jim Carter as a steampunk-esque version of C-3PO named Cogman. Cogman is Sir Edmund’s body servant that’s not much of a transformer but pretty good at everything else. While in earlier films there’s reference to the Governments being aware of Transformers being on Earth, this time there’s photos everywhere of them having been involved in most of human history. There’s no way that nearly 2,000 years of direct Transformer involvement is going to have been missed by the entire population, but that’s just being pedantic, I know.
Yes, the film runs waaay long once again at two and a half hours, but it’s far less painful to get through than the prior installments. For all it’s problems, Last Knight has a certain charm. If you don’t think about it too much (or at all) about what the storyline is trying to tell you. Just try to relax and you’ll have some fun moments along the way. Which now that I think about it, sounds a lot like being at the dentist. However the dentist never had baby Dinobots to play with, so that’s at least one thing that’s more fun with the film than there it to get a tooth drilled.
Bonus round: for history buffs, here’s a great topic for a debate – which movie portrays their respective time periods more inaccurately: Transformers or King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
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