I am not sure where to begin. Well, I do.
I promise I will NOT begin with “Michael Bay RUINED my childhood!”
Being I have been a fan since I was four, seen many incarnations, reboots, and different universes of my favorite alien robots. It is no secret the “Bayverse” Transformers leave me wounded.
I will do my best not to spoil.
Taking my personal investment out of it, I will now take the opportunity in detailing why this was a convoluted ballet of a disasterpeice. First, the characters. Congrats if you have seen the first four atrocities, because if you haven’t, you would have no idea where certain people in this film are important. Since this is Michael Bay and his crew, you only need a few things.
1. A rebellious kid
2. A tall hot and leggy woman with an accent who at times appears bad-ass but really fills the eye candy role and deep down wants something significant in her life trope
3. Some gruff male figureheads to command their scenes and would have you believe they are important.
John Turturro is in the movie, only for a few short scenes, but have major purpose and plot points. Except, to the uninformed, he’s some raving loon with connections to Sir Anthony Hopkins’ character.
About Sir Hopkins. If you were under a rock, you missed some articles in the past week with an interview where he reportedly didn’t understand the plot. For me, I got it, I know Transformers, I saw the movies. But for the moviegoer who is coming into this fresh, they would be lost. His character was one of the few saving graces of the film.
To be blunt, scenes felt disjointed, humor felt forced, and I honestly couldn’t have cared less about any character in the film, human or robot. Yes, I’m serious. The Transformers weren’t in half the movie. If there was a chase scene, explosions, or some weird-ass Cybertronian exposition, then they were there, walking around muttering clichés.
Here is what I did enjoy:
The story had potential, but its execution was hideously poor. The plot is this — Transformers and humans co-exist, as more come crashing to Earth. The humans create a world military unit to combat all Transformers. This is fine, in the Bayverse, this is reality. Cybertronian tech is pirated and used to create new weapons for defense. Fine. I am good with this.
What bugged me, was the time line. Now, in the first film, we were led to believe the Transformers were not on Earth until 2007 in search of the Allspark, however Megatron was present a good century ago from a failed mission. In this film, we are now led to believe the Cybertronians have been here for centuries, as far back as King Arthur. Then we have a scene where Bumblebee shoots up some Nazis. Great. We have a new timeline, sort of, and then we get into the history of Transformers, involving The Great Cybertron Knights, which to be honest, the concept is pretty cool. Combining into a giant three-headed dragon? Damn.
This is where I insert the personal aspect, so I can explain what the movie did not.
Cybertron was once ruled by the Quintessons, a race of beings who manipulated Transformers. In this movie, it is simplified with one creature named Quintessa who does the same. Then we get our hero, Optimus Prime drifting in space and summoned by Quintessa who has reclaimed Cybertron for herself. She bitch-slaps Prime, infecting him and turning him to her side, and she proclaims him “Nemesis Prime.”
This is fine, for a moment, as through Transformers history a “Nemesis Prime” referred to a clone or an evil version of Optimus. The problem, the characters and even Prime himself does not reference the name so the only ones who know it, is the audience (maybe). The characters continue to call him Optimus. Much like in the previous film, where Megatron rebuilds himself, demanding to be called “Galvatron” (which is the upgraded Megatron in various series), the problem is only the villain himself maintained the name change while everyone else continued to refer to him as Megatron. We have a history of failed consistency in the Bayverse.
I wanted to see more Transformer action. A part of the movie shows Megatron negotiating the release of captured Decepticons. I am not opposed to talk and dialogue, but most of it was repetitive and “hit you with a brick to the head” type information. We get typical hero/villain tropes were there. Decepticons wound up as background fodder, despite a few being highlighted earlier in the film, and for once I’ll say, the humans appeared to outshine the Bots and Cons in this one — which is often the complaint of too many people. This time, it worked to one of the films few positives.
Personally speaking, the movie did not feel “fun” at all. It felt like a rushed attempt to flood the audience with too much information and gratuitous throw-one-out-for-the-old-school-fans. I appreciate it, but the execution, as said earlier, felt flawed, forced, and uninspired. There were one-too-many tangents, and the attempts at cynical, sarcastic banter. Usually I enjoy big all-out battle scenes, but the big fight at the end just didn’t do it for me. The novelty and excitement was sucked out, and felt very anti-climactic.
I wanted to give this film a shot, I really did. There were a number of bright spots, but not enough to shine a beacon of hope. It saddens me that the positive aspects of the film came to the human level, despite forced humor and the same stereotypes we have seen before in films like this. When the features of the Transformers are outclassed by the backstory, we have a problem.
Have no fear, the seeds, or “horns” have been planted for Transformers 6, and the Bumblebee standalone movie is in the works. I have no fears of the Bayverse ruining my childhood, because I know this is just one of many alternate realities I have to accept exist.
By the way, Michael Bay said he was done after this. Here is the thing, you know how Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair had teased retirement a number of times, or how many times Billy Martin came back as manager of the Yankees? Well, that’s how much I believe Bay is done, considering after the second, third, and fourth time, he said he was moving on from this franchise. I imagine the lure of more money may compel a 180.
To rank the current films from Best to Worst would be:
Transformers: The Last Knight Rating: 4 out of 10