TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT
Directed By: Michael Bay
Produced By: Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, & Ian Bryce
Story By: Akiva Goldsman, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, & Ken Nolan
Premiered On: June 21, 2017
Distribution By: Paramount Pictures
What can I say about Transformers: The Last Knight that hasn’t already been said by those of greater, or lesser, experience than I with words or with film? Likely, not that much but I can, at the least, off a perspective from one who has grown up watching Beast Wars & Beast Machines and had a fairly recent marathon of Transformers: Prime. As I’ve said previously, I am not an avid fan of Transformers as a whole. Outside of the aforementioned cartoons, I can only name a few select individuals from the franchise and that’s just those who aren’t color swaps of other characters never mind the many, many, many incarnations of certain characters.
As before, I’ll touch on what was good in this film. First and foremost, no Autobots die in this film. … Okay, slight clarification here. No Transformer that designates themselves as an Autobot dies in this film and considering how kill-happy the last several films and comic book tie-ins have been, that’s nothing short of a miracle. True, the (surprisingly) named Transformer Canopy does perish for an ungodly stupid reason (more on that later in this review) but he never confirms whether he’s an Autobot or a Decepticon though it is likely the former given his care for the human girl Izabella.
Second good point, there are few “money shots.” Let’s face it, product placement in films is going to be a given no matter the film in question but the degree in which it is presented to us can vary from the subliminal to being so in your face you can practically taste it. In the case of the Transformers films this has primarily been for the cars to a point where one wonders just why the Transformer ever bother turning into their robotic form given how long, and frequently, they stay in car form even during moments that don’t call for it. Thankfully, in this film there is but one moment and it is sensibly done in a way that it’s only obvious because by this point the sheer lack of them made it stand out more.
There is also a distinct lack of sexual objectification in this film though given it is a Michael Bay production, that doesn’t mean it’s absent in its entirety but I’ll be touching on that stunningly stupid moment later. Much like the money shots of the cars, it is the severe lack of these questionable moments that make them stand out all the more though I can proudly say that they aren’t so plainly obvious as the “totally necessary” shot of Cade’s daughter from behind at, ahem, hip height. To “better emphasize” the shortness of her shorts you see.
Doesn’t quite trump being a card-carrying member of the “Romeo Juliet Law” but still, really?
On that same human vein, contrary to the last film which consisted of one-third needless humans and their stupid plotlines that we could care less about given their sheer inability to be sympathized with let alone liked… Sorry, bit of a soapbox for me there but seriously, for all the humans that are in this film, and there are a surprising amount from across the movies, there is almost always a Transformer right there in the scene or fiddling about in the background.
Last, but certainly not least, there are actual funny moments in this film. More than most of the other ones had and without featuring the antics of a certain yellow Transformer who floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. I shan’t describe them, as I feel that lessens the humor, though I will credit Cogman, a self-admitted sociopathic ex-assassin Autobot, for a majority of laughs.
Of course, this now leads me to the bad of the film and let me tell you now, ladies and gentlemen, this will NOT be a short list nor can I promise to stay off the soapbox when it presents itself to me. These bad aspects are in order of the severity of them as ordained by my own personal opinion. Some might agree, others may not. Either way, let’s roll them out.
As seen in the last film, the world is sick to death of the Transformers and has declared them as public enemy no. 1 with the stupid exception being Cuba for no other reason than “because.” As such, when a (likely) Autobot named Canopy breaks his cover he is summarily gunned down without prejudice for the fact that he, like most Transformers, is equipped with a weapon. I bring this up as a bad aspect of the film because we see later that America, freaking America, negotiates with Megatron after he kidnaps, and summarily releases two hostages, for the release of a few of his named Decepticon soldiers.
Point of order: It is to my understanding that we, as a country, do not negotiate with terrorists. Especially one whose actions cost goodness knows how many lives and immeasurable amounts of damage to several major cities and locations. Point the second, Megatron released the hostages before the negotiations. The only reason they even allow this farce is because they hope to follow him to “the ultimate weapon” and steal it out from under him before he can use it. I don’t know which is worse, that they think he won’t suspect or the fact that he never does and becomes so easy to defeat (again) that I’m starting to call him Not-a-Megatron in my head.
Point the third… They killed an Autobot. They’ve killed goodness knows how many Autobots prior to and during the fourth film… Yet they have been capturing and imprisoning Decepticons?! Decepticons whom, upon being released promise their jailers that they will be back for them and that they know where they live! These aren’t run-of-the-mill humans we’re talking about here! For pity’s sake, we saw in the freakin’ first film how easy it is for a Decepticon to get onto flippin’ Air Force One! Sneaking up on the homes of their guards and wiping out them and/or their families is not beyond the stretch of imagination here!
What really has me scratching my head though is that during whole entire farce of a scene, we are introduced to each Decepticon by way of a freeze frame with their name splattered across it very much like we are introduced to the Suicide Squad in their film. I’d almost forgive this blatant rip-off if this was done for each and every Transformer in the film but NOPE! It’s just for this moment and for a majority of Decepticons who end up dead and gone mere minutes later when the Autobots, plus Grimlock and Slug, hand them their keisters on a titanium platter.
This is especially aggravating when a majority of the Autobots in this film are introduced to us so casually that it’s next to impossible to remember their names and that’s only if they are introduced to us at all! The Autobots that premiered in the last film? Yeah, if you haven’t seen it you likely aren’t going to hear their names in this one. An old World War I (or is it II?) tank Transformer who is suffering from dementia? Good luck, Chuck because he’s in there for a laugh and that’s it! Any of the baby Dinobots? Nope! A submarine, yes a submarine Transformer, that leads them to getting the MacGuffin of the film? Not only is never named but doesn’t ever speak OR transform!
Do you have idea how cool that’d be to see something that big turn into an equally bigger robot?! WHY would you waste such an opportunity?!
Worst of all, WORST OF ALL (because this bears repeating all caps people), that triple-headed dragon we see in the adverts and poster? The “Knights of Iacon” (who that is, is never said outside the Wikipedia article) that betray the “big bad” of the film Quintessa? Never named and barely do anything! The dragon shows up for all of a minute, two tops, and in its first supposed epic moment comes crashing down upon a horde of human invaders (back during the Dark Ages) in such a way that I can’t help but feel like it was an actual crash and not an intended attack.
For Primus’ sake, it has three heads and breathes fire! Just roast them all and call it a day!
As to the big bad Quintessa? Where, oh where, do I start with her? She’s labelled as a sorceress on Wikipedia and calls herself the “Prime of Life” to Optimus who refers to her as his maker and she calls him her “greatest creation” though it is never shown or explained how she, a literal human sized and shaped Transformer supposedly created the entire race of them. She is as much a threat as a fly is to a dinosaur and I mean that with pure sincerity. Her conversion of Optimus Prime into “Nemesis Prime” is a slap to the face.
No. I’m not joking. She, pardon my French, literally bitch-slaps him into being evil. For all of like, what, ten minutes before hearing Bumblebee’s real voice breaks him out of the spell. Also, it’s like that Megatron is, inexplicably, under her sway given his face has the same weird red marking that Optimus had when he was Nemesis.
But we’ve only covered the purely Cybertronian aspects of bad. Let’s touch on the human side of things for a moment.
Cade is still stupid. Not as bad as Sam or as obnoxiously so as he was in the last film as he’s reversed that from obnoxiously stupid to stupidly obnoxious especially in concerns to Viviane who has taken that role for herself in this picture and to a whole new level too!
There’s a moment when Cade has his shirt off and is watching the Transformer medallion MacGuffin (to be explained) crawling around him like a creepy centipede when she walks in him. Cue him making a lot of innuendos without realizing it and her acting like her brain IQ dropped to single digits range. I palmed my face so hard I still have the handprint over my eyes. Though of course, that could be because of doing it excessively throughout the film…
Does anyone recall the early trailers for the film? Specifically the ones that were all “girl power” with Izabella? The one that all but shoved it in our faces that she was going to be the break-out star of this film, move over Cade and Sam?
Yeah, no. She’s barely a footnote if even that much. She serves as a sort-of introduction to Cade and his current antics and as a painful reminder that his daughter got off scott-free for their shared previous antics and is not being held accountable to the fact that her dad is technically a terrorist in the eyes of the US Government considering he’s aiding and abetting the “illegal” Autobots. She could be taken out of the film entirely and nothing absolutely nothing would be made better, or worse, for her absence. Heck, the most she is, is a discount Jade Chan from the cartoon series Jackie Chan Adventures in that she inexplicably, and undeniably stupidly, sneaks herself into situations that she has no business being involved in.
She sneaks onto a military aircraft for Primus’ sake and when asked why the heck she thought to do this, she states, quite clearly, that she had no idea what she was thinking or what she hoped to accomplish by doing so.
While I could talk about the lack of military intelligence in this film, I can’t honestly blame it entirely as it is a trope that has been around since the dawn of film. What I can blame however is the fact that the soldiers tell their higher-ups that the MacGuffin of the film is Merlin’s staff, and don’t elaborate any further on that thus leading them to conclude the soldiers’ plan consists of, quote, “hobgoblin witchery.”
“It’s a DNA locked device. We get Prof. Viviane to grab it, she can stop everything.”
Was that really so hard?
Last, but certainly not least, is the “Illuminati” of the picture as portrayed by Anthony Hopkins whom, I heard, had confessed that the story of the film made no sense to him before, during, and after filming. He is a descendant of those charged with keeping the Transformers a secret from the general populace and, having failed that rather spectacularly, keeping Merlin’s Staff out of enemy hands whilst also aiding any and all Autobots whom happen to aid them. There’s quite a bit wrong with this whole set up but let’s point out the two most glaringly bad parts.
First and foremost, it is shown both in the Dark Ages and during World War II that the Autobots have aided humans in their wars. Specifically King Arthur against whatever forces were invading his lands and America in World War II. Heck, a freaking creation of the Allspark, a Transformer that is crazed upon creation and thus a danger to itself and anyone else near it, is created as being the one responsible for offing Hitler.
That in itself is really weird because never mind the argument as to why the Autobots would involve themselves in human affairs, Hopkins literally has a wall that showcases all of the evidence of Autobot involvement. Some are sensible such as paintings or pictures that show them off but then there’s the purely idiotic such as, and I do not exaggerate, World War I and II propaganda posters!
Transformers. The worst kept secret bar none.
Then there’s the real breadwinner of stupid. This Illuminati styled group? This organization that can trace its, and a few other important figures’, lineage back to the Dark Ages? It’s called the Witwiccans. Get it? Witwicky? Witwiccans?! It’s (not) clever. Credit though for getting the most ridiculous face Sam could possibly make for a photograph proving his lineage to this illustriously stupid order.
With all of that said, I’ll end this long review on the one note that is equal parts good and bad. It is revealed that the likely reason that Cybertronians are arriving on Earth is because Earth is actually Unicron, the World Eater and Ultimate Evil. This is not altogether a unique concept for the film though it can make for a great one if played right. The film ends with our world and Cybertron all but directly connected to each other (which I’m sure will spell super fun times for us but who cares, giant robots!) and there’s a lot of potential for something of a reversal between us and the Transformers.
In the cartoon series Beast Machines, it was revealed that Cybertron was originally a purely organic world and still kind of was at its heart thus the conversion of Cybertronians into a new “faction” as it were of a perfect blend of robotic and organic life. Considering how utterly crazy just the last two Transformers films have been, I can’t imagine that a similar plotline couldn’t develop in the, supposed, sequel.