Michael Bay, master of explosions and action-packed movies is oft ridiculed, but the fact that the Transformers franchise is a lucrative one is hard to ignore; regardless of their varied quality. The first was fun enough but ever since then, there has been a steady decline, with the previous instalment Age of Extinction being universally panned, and currently standing on a rather damning 18% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Reputedly the last Transformers movie that Bay himself will direct – whether there is truth in that remains to be seen – The Last Knight looked to be taking a slightly different direction based on the trailers, but the final result is rather disappointingly more of the same.
Transformers works as a cartoon, it works as a series of toys and merchandise, but there is just something about this franchise that never seems to click. It is too silly to be a good enough action movie to compete with the Marvel movies, and it takes itself too seriously to be as outrageous and over the top as the Fast & Furious films. This latest instalment is completely ridiculous but not in a good way, it is a jumbled mess of a film, contorted beyond recognition, resulting in a ludicrous series of action sequences, in which things like plot and character development are never considered important enough to form major parts of the story.
We’re introduced to a handful of new characters, notably Izabella (Isabela Moner) and Jimmy (Jerrod Carmichael) who actually showed a little bit of promise, particularly the former, however they’re dropped almost as quickly as they are introduced which is a real shame. The attempts to reintroduce them later into the storyline seem haphazard and forced, and when the storyline was already a mess, it does nothing to help its coherence!
Josh Duhamel plays generic army man, who may or may not be important, but you’re never exactly given a reason to care about him, and even Sir Anthony Hopkins isn’t enough to save this – he’s clearly having fun with the role but his character is nowhere near developed enough. Laura Haddock plays the token tottie, and all the early promise of this character is once again ruined with a shoe-horned in romantic subplot. This is so frustratingly the case with female roles in action blockbusters, and is a problem too big to address in this review. For all the good points about this character – that she is independent, driven and feisty – she unfortunately succumbs to the fact that the film simply doesn’t know what to do with her so instead lumbers her with an unnecessary romance with Mark Wahlberg’s Cade.
There is an awful lot going on in this film, and none of which seems important or necessary. Cade finds an artifact which is probably important, there’s some flashbacks showing the Transformers of yesteryear. There’s a generic villain who has generic motives, and there’s a storyline which is so wafer thin it is actually a bit insulting. Once again, the abrasive product placement is a real turn-off as well, but then again subtlety has never been in Bay’s vocabulary! It is impossible to care about anything in this movie, simply because we’ve seen it all before. It is the same tired formula, the same explosions and action scenes, and because it is nothing new, the result is actually painfully dull.
Fact is, if this franchise is to continue, it needs a serious reboot. It needs to drop Michael Bay and it needs to take on a new direction, otherwise these dire, poor excuses for action films will continue to be churned out for evermore. It is common to hear these films described as “switch your brain off” movies, but even so, the relentless assault on the eyes and other senses just isn’t fun anymore. It isn’t even just fun throwaway trash; it’s just plain trash.
Whether intentional or not, the sloppy editing leaves you feeling like you’ve been in a car crash, and it is glaringly obvious that Michael Bay probably had about 3 days worth of footage that he wanted to use but was forced to trim it down to just over 2 hours. The cuts are jarring, the leaps in logic and storytelling make no sense, and as already mentioned, the character development is the real thing which suffers because of this. It feels like it lasts an age, but yet you also never feel like you’ve spent enough time with the characters to care. It is incredibly difficult to invest in, and even just as popcorn entertainment, there are far bette ways to be entertained; watching paint dry for an example.
Dull, desparate and deathly boring, Transformers: The Last Knight fails to add any life into this fledging series and whilst it doesn’t seem to be going away yet, we can at least hope that with many of the cast and crew jumping ship, the next one might at least be different.