Transformers: The Last Knight – long rumored to be director Michael Bay’s final contribution to the blockbuster Transformers franchise – isn’t exactly the type of movie you’d want to end your franchise with. If this really is Bay’s final entry in his Transformers series before handing the reigns to a new director, it’s a strange place to walk away at.
The Last Knight is the fifth film in the series featuring the giant humanoid robots, and it not only builds upon plot points introduced in the fourth film – Age of Extinction – but it also introduces characters and threads that suggest a sixth film will eventually arrive; that is – assuming it survives the onslaught it’s currently enduring at the box office. It’s odd that Bay would choose to walk away now, (a more fitting departure point would have been after the third film – Dark of the Moon – as it wrapped up the first three movies). Perhaps Michael Bay is beginning to get tired of the poor critical reception of these films, and – like the ones that came before it – The Last Knight unfortunately deserves it.
While the first three Transformers movies focused too heavily on the human characters to propel the “story” forward, the two most recent entries have done a better job balancing the screen time between the humans and the Transformers. Or, at the very least, the human-related plot-lines have become more interesting – for the most part. The latest entry into the franchise doesn’t do any better when it comes to adhering to continuity and lore set up in the previous films, and like the four before it suffers from unnecessary cartoon-humor and poor editing. Not only does the movie contain plenty of jarring jump-cuts, like the previous films before it, but The Last Knight throws a new wrench into the mix – an ever-changing aspect ratio. Because the film was shot partially with IMAX cameras, the aspect ratio changes constantly throughout the movie – adding black bars to the top and bottom of the screen at random times and in the middle of scenes that didn’t need it. Plenty of films shoot partially in IMAX nowadays and successfully manage the aspect ratio changes, but this isn’t one of those films.
As for characters, this time around there really isn’t much to say about them. Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, and Glenn Morshower all reprise their roles from previous films, but none of them deviate from what they’ve done before or offer anything new. Even the inclusion of the great Anthony Hopkins didn’t add much to the movie. The one human character who stood out to me was Merlin, played by Stanley Tucci. Tucci played a different character in the previous installment and was one of the best parts about that film, and he does a great job with what little screen time he is given here, too. The Transformer characters are, unfortunately, in the same boat as the humans. None of them stand out, including Optimus Prime – who isn’t even in the movie for long, despite being heavily featured in the trailers and marketing for the film.
The biggest issue with the movie, however, lies in the sheer number of things that were going on. More so than any Transformers film before it, The Last Knight has way too many plot elements racing adjacent to each other. Normally I’d give praise to a movie that pays attention to little details in the plot and weaves things together, but when those plot points are being bogged down by poor dialogue and terrible editing, it becomes difficult to follow exactly what’s going on. I will say, however, the fight action sequences were easier to follow and worked better with the musical cues than in the previous Transformers movies.
While it isn’t the worst entry in the series, Transformers: The Last Knight isn’t the best, either. That being said, it feels like it’s time to reboot the property and give a new creative team the chance to work their magic in transforming these characters into versions worthy of being on the big screen.