Transformers: The Last Knight, a movie that probably didn’t need to get made, is now in theaters and making a bit of cash, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s any good. I went into it with low expectations after Age of Extinction, which to me is still the worst of the five released live-action Transformers movies, and I came out with even lower expectations for the franchise as it moves forward with more sequels. And yes, there will be more sequels as The Last Knight sets them up before its final credits roll, so no, we aren’t done with the live-action Transformers films for at least another few years.
The Transformers movies in general really haven’t had great or clear plots since the original, which I contend is still a pretty damn good sci-fi movie, as long as you don’t think about the four films that came out after it. With that being said The Last Knight’s plot is the messiest of all, and at times I wondered if the editor fell asleep at the wheel due to how jarring some of the cuts were between scenes. I’m talking plot holes central, which is a result of the sweeping edits that were made to trim the movie down to a still lengthy 2.5 hours. There were times where the main characters were doing something in one place, and then two seconds later they’re somewhere else doing something else, so the continuity never felt intact throughout the entire narrative.
The film also tries too hard to introduce new main characters, as well as reintroduce older ones that weren’t present in Age of Extinction. These characters ultimately get lost in the cluster-fuck of a plot, or come off as token characters meant to check a diversity checkbox, so they too feel out of place and useless, much like the film’s other half-assed ingredients.
The plot itself is quite fantastical and steeped in King Arthur lore, which makes absolutely no sense even when you watch it play out. In fact, parts of this film rewrite the lore of the Transformers movie universe, essentially breaking the plots of every film before it by placing characters in timelines that doesn’t jive with their initial arrival in the first film. Sure we’re talking about alien robots and such, but even with my sci-fi and fantasy properties I still want their worlds to feel coherent throughout the saga, and not have future plot points that essentially conflict with plot points established in past films.
In addition to having a scatterbrained narrative like most Transformer films starring Mark Wahlberg (the second and third films weren’t great but at least they had a flow to them that made sense), The Last Knight also suffers from horrible writing and too many cheap gags aimed at coaxing laughter out of the audience. The plot itself is evidence enough of the poor writing, but some of the jokes or gags that play out are so bad that you’ll start to wonder if the writers had a contest to see how many overly shitty ones they could cram into the script before someone called them on it.
The worst part is they make you feel uncomfortable in the same way you may cringe while watching a comedian bomb on stage, or an AGT contestant who fails their audition miserably. Not a single joke or wannabe witty pop culture reference elicited more than a smile in my screening. I had to turn around to make sure that I wasn’t in the theater by myself. That’s how bad the humorous parts come off, which is par for the course in the below average The Last Knight. It’s just not very good.
If The Last Knight has any redeeming qualities it would be its action and cinematography. If Bay is good at anything it’s blowing shit up, and there is plenty of that in this film to convince you to at least get your money out of your ticket by staying for the full runtime. There are some cool shots for sure, which look even better in 3D, but like the other Transformer movies, the action begins to get so intense and chaotic that you’ll lose track of who is fighting who, and what everyone is doing in the first place, so while these scenes stand out, they still embrace the messiness of the film as a whole.
You may be asking yourself why I would even go to Transformers: The Last Knight, and my response is because I can’t help myself when it comes to sci-fi films and pop culture properties from my childhood. I knew this movie wouldn’t be good, but I was hoping it at least had a few redeeming qualities to make sitting through it worth it. Unfortunately, it’s just too unorganized and chaotic to really enjoy, so it’s a film best left for waiting until it releases on Blu-ray, HBO, or other VOD services.
Even then your life wouldn’t be left with a massive entertainment void if you decided to pass on it for the rest of your existence. With that being said I’ll be in a theater to watch the inevitable sequels, but only because it’s my job as an Entertainment Buddha to fall on these types of pop culture grenades for you, so you don’t have to.
Until then, ROLL OUT!
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Review Statement: The author of this review paid for a 3D screening for the purposes of this review.