Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) Review
Marky-Mark-sters of the Universe!
If Transformers: Age of Extinction was the nail in the coffin of the Transformers film franchise, then The Last Knight is parading its decomposing corpse around like a glorified rag doll attempting to cash-in on its former glory. Written by four different individuals who are responsible for film such as Iron Man, Punisher: War Zone, Black Hawk Down, Batman Forever, and Batman & Robin, Transformers: The Last Knight is the most expensive Transformers film to date, the worst reviewed of the franchise, is projected to have the lowest box office opening weekend, and somehow outdoes all of the worst moments of all the previous films combined.
A drunken Merlin (played by a nearly unrecognizable Stanley Tucci) kicks off the coma-inducing two and a half hour duration of The Last Knight. Merlin stumbles his way to victory with a staff given to him in ancient times to save King Arthur from a battle he should have lost along with a three headed dragon known as Dragonstorm, who is around just long enough to remind you of the Godzilla villain King Ghidorah. By the way, 464 AD is apparently the perfect place to inject some outrageous Michael Bay explosions that really don’t belong. Catapult or not, seeing men fly 70 feet into the air with combustions larger than the Grand Canyon supposedly taking place 1600 years ago seems really out of place. But, you know, screw you; this is Michael Bay’s last Transformers film (which he’s said the last three films) so logic is just another thing Bumblebee can urinate on in a future installment.
In the present day, little kids rummage around a Chicago dump that is clearly marked as human quarantine. Naturally they stumble onto overprotective bots known as TRF Walkers that seems like clear homage to Ed 209 from RoboCop and a Cybertronian Knight that is bleeding out. The area is guarded by TRF, mercenaries who target and destroy Transformers on sight since they believe it’s the only way the human race will continue to survive. A teenager named Izabella (Isabela Moner) gets riled up because she lives at the dump and doesn’t want her home to be in even dumpier conditions. Along with her Short Circuit ripoff buddy Sqweeks and Bumblebee clone Canopy they attempt to save the day, but unfortunately they suck at following through with good intentions. Cade Yeager (the returning Mark Wahlberg), now a fugitive hiding out in order to fix fallen Transformers, shoots a gigantic alien blaster around poorly in order to save a group of ungrateful kids with the worst pick-up lines in existence. He receives a talisman from the dying knight as he is chosen and forced to endure outdated Michael Bay slow-motion sequences for a weakly resuscitated franchise.
Meanwhile, Optimus Prime goes back to Cybertron and is brainwashed into thinking the only way he can save his home is if he kills everyone he’s ever worked with and is urged to blow up the Earth since our planet has now become pregnant with Unicron. Prime has basically become a postal Marvin the Martian. Cybertron, which has the appearance of the cybernetic abortion of Honeycomb cereal and a rolling tumbleweed, drifts towards Earth with a sorceress named Quintessa at the wheel who wants to allow Unicron to be birthed since it will allow Cybertron to be restored to its former glory.
Like Alien: Covenant, everyone seems to be out of breath and sweaty in Transformers: The Last Knight, but since the film is set in Chicago and not an anxiety-driven space ship in the depths of outer space it seems a bit out of the ordinary. Every new character feels like they’re trying to out-Mark Wahlberg of all of his Mark-Wahlberg-isms. The fast-talking smack talk gets old as Cade and Izabella argue to a groan worthy climax, but it gets even worse when a “professor” played by Laura Haddock (Meredith Quill in both Guardians of the Galaxy films) who only wears cleavage highlighting cocktail dresses yet snaps at sexy remarks clashes heads with a stubborn Cade who is only reacting to what is being presented to him. The two are at each other’s throats from the start, but the forced love interest rears its ugly three heads as soon as she is introduced since a terrible inventor and an unrealistic professor are a match made in heaven.
Cade is basically babysitting the Autobots as they hideout at a junkyard, which is just another reason for Wahlberg to shout and complain but then claim that he’s in character. It’s around this point that you realize everyone in the film is overacting and trying too hard to either be taken seriously or be comic relief and they fail so hard at both. Bumblebee is still running around with a jacked up voice box since apparently there’s still humor to be found in a joke that’s been dragged out for ten years, sucked dry, violated in every orifice, and had its corpse stuffed and embarrassingly put on display throughout the course of five mind-numbing films. Between that and Optimus Prime’s continuous case of Alzheimer’s where he has to introduce himself every time he’s on-screen, it’s no wonder this franchise isn’t connecting with audiences the way it used to.
Anthony Hopkins is the best part of the film and to clarify that means that his incessant yelling and apparent state of deliriousness is the one enjoyable factor you find in a multiple hour torture session. Jerrod Carmichael joins the film as Jimmy, whose nationality as a black man seems to be utilized to a racially offensive degree every time he shows up. Jimmy is overly paranoid, only worried about money, and specifically targets his lack of job benefits of protecting a group of alien outlaws led by a man who has lost just about everything. The character isn’t quite as racist as Mudflap and Skids in Revenge of the Fallen, but it’s tapping into the same offensive territory which just makes you shake your head in disgust.
The voice cast is fairly impressive since it includes the likes of Peter Cullen and Frank Welker as Prime and Megatron respectively along with John Goodman, Ken Watanabe, Steve Buscemi, Omar Sy, John DiMaggio, and Tom Kenny, but the material they’re given to work with is so poor that it’s difficult to find any joy in their performances. Megatron’s new team of Decepticons sound like rejected high school Battle of the Band names; Mohawk, Nitro Zeus, and Dreadbot. The biggest issue The Last Knight has is that the focal point of the film, which is the one thing the film has that seems different from the previous films, lasts for less than ten minutes and is yanked away to make room for tiresome action and stale story points that you’ve seen in every Transformers film that came before this one.
Three films after Michael Bay originally stated he was going to relinquish the reigns to this franchise from his explosion fetished and knack for poor story structure hands, Bay is still going strong for no reason other than thinking there’s still money to be made by deep throating Bumblebee until audiences finally get the memo that they shouldn’t throw money at computer generated constipation. The Last Knight brings nothing new to the table relying on stale gags, complicated action, and a cast of people who can’t act to drive a franchise into the ground. If the sky is falling and Transformers: The Last Knight is Chicken Little, then don’t even bother warning us that the world is coming to an end. Let this planet rot in space as Transformers sequel after sequel is churned out to appease a group of sheep who can’t recognize flaming garbage when they see it and let me be the first to die in an overproduced Michael Bay explosion or crushed under the heaviest Transformer foot in order to escape a fate clearly worse than death.