Monday, June 26, 2017

Transformers: The Last Knight

Year: 2017
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Laura Haddock, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Isabela Moner, Santiago Cabrera

Plot: The Transformers' home planet, Cybertron is on a collision course with Earth. A brainwashed Optimus Prime is determined to help his maker destroy the planet. The only ones who can stand in his way are Cade Yeager, an Oxford professor, a young scavenger girl and the remaining Autobots.

Review: There's a first time for everything, I guess. In this case, it's the first time I'm unable to emphasise the good parts of a Michael Bay directed Transformers film. Most people say that Bay's Transformers movies are bad, and I can understand that. But I was always able to see the positive elements underneath the crappy parts and enjoy it as best I could. Well, not this time.

In The Last Knight, humans and Transformers no longer co-exist. The Transformers Reaction Force (TRF) now monitor and hunt any Transformers that exist and capture them. Meanwhile, Optimus Prime has found his maker, but Quintessa the creator isn't about to let him stop her from destroying Earth and brainwashes him into becoming her soldier. In order to save Earth, Cade Yeager, chosen by a dying Cybertronian knight, has to find Merlin's staff, given to him centuries ago by another Cybertronian knight, for it is the only thing that can stop Quintessa.

That plotline actually sounds good, right? For the first third of the film, The Last Knight wasn't too bad. Yes, the crappy comedy elements and the unfunny human traits of the Transformers still linger, with a few bad ideas added in, like the token black sidekick and baby Dinobots (seriously, the writers should just stick to what works). But for the first 45 minutes or so, I was okay with it. Then the second act went into the lengthy process of finding the staff and establishing the relationship between Cade and Laura Haddock's professor character, Vivian. Most of this section was a bore, except for the moments when Anthony Hopkins was on screen. His eccentric performance as Sir Edmund Burton, a descendant of King Arthur's knights, at least kept some sense of levity and genuine humor going. Outside of Hopkins' screen appearances, the script just failed to keep me engaged and I was just waiting for them to get to the point.

By the time The Last Knight gets to the final third, when Optimus Prime finally shows up and the destruction begins, I was too tired to care. There was a lot of stuff going on and I could barely make out what was happening. I know Bay made a humongous effort in filming this at the best quality he could muster, but the action sequences were just too hard to decipher overall. It's a pity, because underneath all this mess lies a probably decent movie that I would have enjoyed.

The human performances were mostly decent, from Mark Wahlberg to Haddock and Isabela Moner as the young scavenger, and even Josh Duhamel making a return as Lennox. But none of them are able to elevate the film above the bad script, poor editing (there were six editors overall!) and messy directing by Bay. At the very least, Optimus Prime still commands the screen when he appears, being the heart and soul of every Transformers film. 

Bay may have said this is his last Transformers film, but judging by how it ended, there will be more. It's just a matter of whether he will direct the next one too. If he does, I hope he listens to his critics for once. I really wanted to like this film as much as the other four, but I can't. Maybe I'll appreciate it more if I watch it again someday. (5/10)  

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