At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Transformers: The Last Knight

MPAA Rating: PG-13/ Genre: Action/ Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock, Isabela Moner, Stanley Tucci, John Tuturro, Jerrod Carmichael, Santiago Cabrera, Glenn Morshower, Liam Garrigan, Mitch Pileggi/ Runtime: 149 minutes

*sigh I feel I should start this review by asking you movie goers a question….How does one even truly start a review for a Transformers movie anymore? I ask this not because I’m getting film critic dementia and forgetting how to do these things. No the reason I’m asking you this my loyal readers is because five films into this “franchise”, these movies still manage to continue to be nearly identical special-effects fodder to each other, and in fact at this point in the game I feel all I really need to say in regards to this film is either that’s what you’re going to the theater for, or you should know to stay as far away as you possibly can. That being said I feel it’s safe to tell you that although Transformers: The Last Knight isn’t that trend changer for the franchise which is going to bring in countless new fans who will be able to love and appreciate these movies this movie is also incomprehensible in every sense of the word regardless of if you’re a fan of these movies or not. So I guess that being said the question of “should I go see this or not Alan?” is invalid; instead I pose to you a counter-question, and that is “Do you even care to see this?”

Now attempting to explain the plot of Transformers: The Last Knight is an exercise in patience that I simply do not have plus trying to explain the plot of this film is a bit like answering why gingers apparently have no soul in that at a certain point you just get tired of trying to explain something that you clearly can’t answer. So instead I will just say that if you’ve seen any previous Transformers film then you’ll have the gist of what is about to go down in that, just like the first 4 bloody films in this “storied saga”, there’s an object of immense power which has been hidden on Earth for centuries which the bad guys want in order to do bad things, and the good guys go after in order to prevent the bad things. However unlike the first 4 this one throws in King Arthur, Merlin, a Da Vinci Code-like centuries-old secret society (minus the Jesus-Mary Magdalene offspring bit), 2 chosen ones for 2 vastly different purposes, and a couple of character introductions with names that classic (ahh the good old days) Transformers fans will recognize only they won’t actually be those characters and instead will just be the names so that way you can rightfully accuse this film of senseless and cruel namedropping.

Oh and the humans are back too as we see that mullet rockin’ Mark Wahlberg takes center stage once again as America’s favorite inventor wannabe Cade Yeager who, since the events of the last one, has had to go into hiding with what remained of the Autobots at the end of the last film although he does find the time to occasionally pop up places in order to play vigilante hero as well as save other Autobots from a military organization that is hunting them down, but don’t worry this one should not be confused with the one that was hunting them down in the last movie because….this one’s different….I think… Also joining Yeager are a 14-year-old girl he rescues named Lil Orphan Annie ehhh Izabella (Isabela Moner) and an English History professor named Roberta Langdon ehhhh Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock who you might recognize as playing Star-Lord’s mom in the GOTG movies), who’s important to the story for… reasons. Oh, and Sir Anthony Hopkins is in the movie, too. Yep they managed to rope Hannibal Lecter into this and unfortunately it’s not to have a Transformer’s liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. Instead it is for the sole purpose of providing all of this film’s expository dialogue, and while he does so in a game and entertaining way, I mean this IS Sir Anthony Hopkins we are talking about, dear Lord is there a lot of exposition; I mean for a film that is so thin they have somehow made the mythology of this series incredibly dense and cluttered as heck. Plus because none of the previous four films have set up any of what takes place in Transformers: The Last Knight, this movie has a lot of explainin’ to do in order to keep you up to speed and since this spectacle is already close to two and a half hours long, we are treated to a plenty ’a moment where the film actually has to stop and have a character tell you what they were doing while off screen. Because y’know while the information might be important to the plot it’s still nowhere near as important enough to actually show….I mean God forbid this movie get its runtime extended close to 3 hours because of this slop…..

Now one of the major criticisms that have been constantly and accurately lobbed at the Transformers movies, even by those who might otherwise enjoy them those poor devils, is that while the films have Transformers in the title, they are really much more about the human characters than the titular robot franchisees in disguise. While that is an incredibly valid argument I also honestly feel that this may be truer in Transformers: The Last Knight than in any previous entry in the series if for no small reason than the fact that not only do a significant number of named Transformers including Optimus Prime (!) show up at the beginning of the film only to then disappear nearly entirely until the climax requires their return, but even Bumblebee, despite being the only Transformer to have a significant presence throughout the movie (probably because of marketing reasons), is left to play the third wheel to Wahlberg and Haddock to the point where he is mostly ignored, even when he’s on screen with them.

Yet this time things are different; that’s because this time this same philosophy of neglect is also true for some of the human characters as well (gasp!) as we see that a lot of characters pop in and out of the story at random like John Tuturro who seems to be phoning this one in while on vacation with his family in the Caribbean or Mitch Pileggi of X-Files fame getting in maybe one scene and about 10-15 minutes of screen time tops, but the worst has to be Isabella Moner’s character who opens this film with an actually fantastic action sequence that shows the 14-year-old Izabella to be a truly smart, capable, and driven character. As soon as Mullet Wahlberg shows up on screen however it isn’t long before she’s horrifically and tragically relegated to “kid sidekick,” as well as making all of the childish decisions you’d expect from that trope….for the rest of the movie. Of course that’s also when the film’s story bothers to do anything with her at all, as her character finds herself getting put to the backburner fairly early on so that way there’s no human cockblock getting in the way of Wahlberg and Haddock’s shoehorned and utterly unnecessary burgeoning relationship.

Now as a visual spectacle, I can say that in this department at least Transformers: The Last Knight certainly delivers as once again we have the sexy sports cars driving fast and the massive robots blowing things up (so that way Michael Bay’s explosion fetish is properly satisfied), and while I honestly felt like each individual action sequence wasn’t as involved as the previous movies the finale definitely makes up for that as we get a massive battle encompassing all the humans as well as the previously MIA Transformers. Yet while the action is certainly big and bold I feel that there will be some who see it as less than satisfying because we don’t see anything here that we haven’t seen before in the previous installments due in no small part to this one adding something new to the mix yet we get so little of it that it’s really truly hardly worth bothering to mention.

All in all and at the end of the day however Transformers: The Last Knight is exactly the movie that you think it is in that if you think it’s a fun time to watch big screen special effects and visual spectacle magic and gorge on a big bowl of popcorn and a tall soda it is that, but if you are someone who thinks that this film is more of a cinematic mess that there’s not much point to then you are also correct. On a scale of 1-5 I give Transformers: The Last Knight a 2.5 out of 5.