Oh, where do I begin? Shall I start with expressing how, in all my years, I’ve never been so tempted to leave a movie theater? Shall I start by saying this franchise needs to die a death quicker than the run time of its movies or should I start by saying what on earth did I watch?
How about I start positive, if there is one thing the Transformers franchise and Michael Bay are known for, it’s the spectacular visuals, the details of the Transformers themselves. I’ve always been fascinated how the VFX artists have been able to show each gear, hinge and chassis rotating, and once again I was treated to seeing how each individual part that makes them up, comes together as they transition from “regular” vehicles to the massive mechatronic Autobots and Decepticons. Another positive was seeing Sir Anthony Hopkins, playing Sir Edmund Burton, ham it up for the camera. It was clear that Hopkins, relished playing a role where he wasn’t required to be sinister or entrenched in emotional turmoil, instead he was randomly shouting at people to shut-up, he even got to smile without it being in a sinister context, and these to me were the very few bright spots in the long drawn out, overwrought mess that is The Last Knight, and with that being said, it’s time to get into the deep sigh-inducing calamity that is this film.
This movie has no idea what it wants to be, the tone is all over the place, it doesn’t know if it’s a comedy, epic action adventure, military drama or war movie, it is possible for a movie to be all them but unfortunately this film fails at that. The comedy does not exist, very few of the “jokes” land successfully, and when they did hit, it was a shaky and one footed. Practically all of the dialogue is delivered as one-liners, at one point I began to question if a true script even existed, it was atrocious. The Last Knight has four credited writers and it shows, I am convinced they each brought their respective versions of the script to set and had the actors take turns reading them as filming took place. There is no way they sat in a room together and thought this cobbled together mess was worthy of the actors, and most importantly worthy of our time and money, and since it seems they did, it is clear they don’t care about delivering quality to earn that time and money.
Another major issue I had with Last Knight, is the portrayal of the female characters and people of color. We’re first introduced to Izabella (Isabella Moner), a young Latina, who became an orphan (how many times have we seen Latinx children portrayed as orphans?), when her parents were killed by Decepticons in an event, described as the Battle of Chicago, and now lives on the streets with her autobots Canopy and Sqweeks. If you saw the trailer, you would’ve noticed a group of young boys featured prominently, they serve no other purpose than to be a re-tread of the popular scene in the first Transformers movie when the autobots first landed. As boys stumble upon Izabella, one of them immediately starts to make suggestive comments on her looks, and her availability to be his girlfriend, to which she replies that Canopy is her boyfriend (seriously?). Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) arrives on the scene when the boys and Izabella run into him, he threatens to punch one, a Latino, for wanting to call the cops. Understand what I just said, an adult, threatened to hit a child in his face for wanting to call the authorities because he was scared, how is this acceptable?
With regards to the female lead character Vivian Haddock (Laura Wembley) her time was spent sparring with Cade not because the banter was witty, but because he questioned everything she said and was extremely passive aggressive towards her. A prime example would be their first meeting at Burton’s house, where they were brought together to plan how to defeat the giant moon-sized planet Cybertron on a collision course with Earth. After leaving her home, Vivian is kidnapped by her car and taken there, for some inexplicable reason, she changes into a dress, where it came from I have no idea, but as she walks in to meet them, instead of introducing himself, Cade asks Burton why “a bimbo wearing a stripper dress was there?”
Let me explain, the dress Vivian wore was a knee length, plain black dress, that showed little cleavage, and in no way does it resemble what one would classify as a “stripper dress”, it’s’ as though the writers and Bay couldn’t resist throwing a little dig at Laura (just why? Misogyny maybe?). Another instance occurs, when they’re in a submarine, there is this weird device that attached itself to Cade because he possesses the virtues of a knight (debatable and laughable), for some reason the devices moves around his body, during one of these anatomical migrations, Cade lifts his shirt as Vivian is walking by, as she glances at his abs, Vivian is struck with the inability to speak, as she bumbles around, the devices move into his crotch, and allusions to the size and feeling of Cade’s junk are made.
One of the most common criticisms of the Transformers franchise has been their portrayals of African-American stereotypes, in both human and mechanical characters, and Last Knight does not escape these criticisms. The only Black character in this whole movie given more than 2 minutes of screen time is Cade’s somewhat reluctant assistant Jimmy (Jerrod Carmichael), and I say “somewhat reluctant” because, he answered a job ad, where he thought he would be working for someone who wasn’t a fugitive, thereby he wouldn’t be committing a crime. But you see, Jimmy was lied to, Cage lied in his ad, and throughout their scenes together, Cade kept reminding him that he was “aiding and abetting a wanted fugitive”, throughout their scenes, much like with Vivian, Cage was constantly belittling Jimmy, and despite this, Jimmy actually places himself in the line of fire from a military drone, to protect Cade, and what does Cade do, he makes fun of Jimmy because it was a beanbag and not a bullet.
It was at this moment I literally started to get out of my seat to leave the cinema, because I was PISSED. In the last few years we’ve seen the multiples deaths of Black women, men, and children at the hands of police, and just before The Last Knight was released Philando Castile’s murderer literally got away with it. You may ask, why am I bringing up something so depressing in my review of a “fun” movie, I mention it, because I saw a young Black man literally throw himself in front of a bullet to save a white man, who made him a criminal and the scene was written by a group of white men, who clearly did not consider how it would be perceived or how it could affect Black viewers. It is obtuse, not funny.
Ok I’m going to wind it up now, I know I haven’t mentioned much about the plot, Optimus Prime or Bumble Bee, but to be honest, this movie does not deserve anymore of our time, so to wrap it up, my final conclusions of Transformers: The Last Knight are as follows;
- This movie should have never been made, but it was because studios care about quantity, not quality.
- Transformers remains a franchise that ruined characters that I loved as a child. Optimus Prime was made into a villain he never was, and his Autobots are racist clichés.
- The “plot” is a mess, trying to connect the Transformers universe to King Arthur and his Knights of the Roundtable makes no sense on any plane of existence.
- Josh Duhamel should have been the lead, his character and story are more interesting and Josh has the maturity and grit to be the lead in a movie where giant robots are the norm.
- I wish I had asked for a refund……I wonder if it’s too late?