The Transformers franchise is truly one of kind, but not for the reason that one would hope. At a time where critics can greatly determine how a film does, the Transformers films seem to be the only critic-proof series left in existence. Despite incredibly negative reviews for every single film, this franchise has always been able to make money, with the last two installments both making over a billion dollars at the box office. The Last Knight marks the 10 year anniversary of the first Transformers movie, meaning the franchise is entering a very important stage. Like its predecessors, The Last Knight has been met with tons of negative reviews but i’m here to tell you, it’s really not as bad as everyone says.
As teased in the trailers, the film starts off in medieval times as we see a fierce battle get us off the mark. Merlin (Stanley Tucci) joins forces with the Knights of Iacon to help defeat the Saxons. The Knights give Merlin an alien staff of immense power which becomes very important to the story going forward. We fastforward 1600 years to the present day, Transformers have been declared illegal and are being hunted by the government, Optimus Prime has left in search of his maker and Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is a wanted man. I was actually a really big fan of the situation presented here, it ran a fine line between keeping the world normal and completely flipping it on it’s head as regular life did indeed carry on along side all these things.
We get introduced to a few new characters in the openings, we meet Izabella (Isabela Moner), a young girl with a little bit of an attitude but is also quiet badass in that sense. She has entertaining interactions with Cade throughout even if her screen time is limited. We also meet Jimmy (Jerrod Carmichael) who is only there for comic relief in truth but still has his moments with the limited time he gets as well. Cade, Jimmy and Izabella are hiding Autobots in a private junk yard to keep them safe from the government. However a transformer movie wouldn’t be a transformers movie without Decepticons, Megatron is back (with an unexplained new form) but is used in a way that feels very tacked on but could’ve been done so much better. The government make a deal with Megatron to bring Cade and his Transformers in, this results in a pretty great action sequence as we also get to see the dinobots from Age Of Extinction back in action. However this is where the biggest problem of the film takes place, after fending him off, Megatron disappears until the end of the film, as does Izabella and Jimmy. This is because Cade is informed by a robot butler named Cogman that he is needed in England straight away. Cade and Bumblebee leave and the film completely goes with them.
I know this may sound as if things get worse from here but in fact they get stronger as we are introduced to Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins), who for me is the highlight of the movie. Everyone knew Anthony Hopkins was only gonna be used for expositional dialogue in this film, but he does it so well that you don’t care, its great to hear him speak in the epic fashion that he always does. The way he says, “two worlds colliding, only one survives” is something that I will always find awesome. Going back to the story, Cade is brought to meet Edmund as he is believes Cade is the last knight, after bonding with a metallic talisman given to him by a dying Transformer earlier in the film. Cade isn’t the only person who has been summoned though, Viviane Wembly (Laura Haddock), an Oxford Professor is also brought into the fold. Edmund informs her that she is the last descendant of Merlin, meaning only she can wield Merlins staff. Why is this staff important? Merlins staff has the ability to bring back Cybertron!
A big complaint among other reviewers is the amount of screentime Optimus prime is given in this movie. As said earlier, Prime has left earth to find his maker, which he does early on in this film. This was another thing I felt could of been done better, it didn’t have the epic feeling it should have when the two meet. Prime’s creator, Quintessa, informs him what the staff can do and puts him under a spell that turns him evil as he sets out to claim the staff. While Brief this moment is still pretty cool but as I said, it could of been done better.
Meanwhile Edmund sets Cade, Viviane, Bumblebee and Cogman off to get the staff before anyone else can get their hands on it. They steal a submarine and head to the bottom of the ocean to find the Cybertronian Knights’ sunken ship. Despite being pursed by the government, Cade and Viviane find the staff. Vivian activates when she touches it, activating the knights on the ship in the progress. As their job is to protect the staff, they begin to attack Cade and Viviane. Michael Bay gets criticized a lot but the man does know how to capture a sexy shot, there’s a part where Cade narrowly avoids a knight’s sword and it looks beautiful. Just as Cade and Viviane are about to meet their end, in comes Optimus Prime, he takes out the knights but you can feel from the moment he enters the room that it’s not really him. Cade tries to reason with him but it’s no use, Optimus takes the staff. This leads to what was probably the most anticipated part of the movie, the fight between Optimus and Bumblebee. Despite Bumblebee not being able to fully speak, you do actually feel his shock at what Optimus has become and understand his hesitance to fight him.
The fight itself is great, the hits are hard and you really don’t know how to feel about these two lifetime friends going up against one another. Bumblebee pulling his battle mask down was a particularly cool moment. Bumblebee manages to bring Prime back to the light side but the problems don’t stop there, Megatron comes from out of nowhere and steals the staff with the intent of giving it to Quintessa. With the end of the world nearing, Cade has no choice but to beg Optimus to fight back. Megatron uses the staff and Cybertron begins to take over Earth, here we see some stunning visuals with unbelievable depth. Optimus, Bumblebee and the other Autobots begin to fight back in an action packed ending. Vivian and Cade work on getting the staff while Prime and Bee take care of Megatron and Quintessa. With the staff removed, parts of cybertron begin to collapse which only provides even more great visuals as our heroes escape the wreckage. Despite the villains being defeated, Earth and Cybertron remain connected, Prime gives his usual monologue and the film finishes on a fairly weird note that feels rushed.
The Last Knight is 150 minutes long but I actually left the cinema feeling the ending could of done with another 10 minutes, it just felt really out of place. In a mid-credits scene we find out that Quintessa is in fact still alive and hiding in human form in order to help set up the eventual sequel which Megatron also gets literally kicked into by Prime.
It’s obvious that The Last Knight has issues, i’m not contesting that, but I refuse to accept that it deserves its current rating of 15% on Rotten Tomatoes. People know what they’re getting into with a Transformers movie, you’re not going to get a beautifully crafted story with deep meaning and great character development, you’re going to get massive robots beating the crap out of each other and blowing everything up because thats what these films are. Yes the plots are over complicated and don’t always make sense but thats not why people watch these films, they watch them to see the action and destruction that Michael Bay likes to deliver with cool explosions at every turn.
I’m a big fan of Mark Wahlberg so straight off the bat I find this movie incredibly easy to watch, his personality and comedic values make him very likeable, a great quality for your lead actor to have. A character that i haven’t praised is Cogman (Voiced by Jim Carter), in comedic terms he was brilliant throughout the film and delivered some great moments as he had great chemistry with nearly every other character. Isabela Moner puts in a good performance, I haven’t seen many others praise the young actress despite her having better ability than a lot of other big young actors in my opinion.
Now while I said I don’t agree with the criticism this film is getting there are three things I believe could’ve been done better and may of changed the overall reception of T5. 1) The execution of Prime meeting his creator. This moment came about way too simply and needed to feel bigger and should’ve been considered a bigger moment than it was. 2) The absence of characters. So many characters were gone for so long that it felt scrappy when they were added back into the mix. 3) Not having Stanley Tucci as Merlin. Stanley Tucci was the best part of Transformers: Age Of Extinction so I honestly don’t know why he didn’t reprise that role.
This is Michael Bay’s last Transformers movie, it’s well known that he likes to abuse explosions in his films to the extend where its become a joke, i mean the opening credits hadn’t even finished and explosions were already going off in this film, but despite all the jokes that can be made about Bay, he can come up with some amazing shots and create some beautiful images. It may not of been the way Bay had hoped to go out but he can without a doubt take pride in getting to 5 films in a franchise that has consistently performed at the box office film after film.
Who knows what direction the Transformers franchise will be taken in next or where else it could possibly go. One thing I know for certain though is that this film deserved better treatment and could’ve also been so much more, if different steps were taken.