Is this newest installment capable of saving the franchise?
The writers seem to think so, as they ended this movie with a cliffhanger. The Transformers movies have a special place in my heart. I remember seeing the first one in theaters with my younger brother and parents. I remember being disappointed by the second and horrified by the third, and I did not watch the fourth. Regardless, every time I hear the word “transformers” I am brought back to childhood games and any antics a ten-year-old can get into with her seven-year-old brother. Thus, I always have hope as I walk into a theater to see a new movie.
Transformers: The Last Knight far surpasses the second and third movies. However, it still fails to match the excellence of the first movie.
Plot and Acting
The plot of The Last Knight works. There are a few moments in which I was confused about what was going on, but by the end of the movie everything made sense. Well, almost everything made sense. The acting was excellent; Isabela Moner (Izabella) and Laura Haddock (Vivian Wembley) played their parts beautifully, and Anthony Hopkins (Sir Edmund Burton) brought life to his part. Though I miss Sam Witwicky, previously played by Shia LaBeouf, Mark Wahlberg makes Cade Yeager the perfect person to be annoyed with in the best way.
The humor, though a bit raunchy at times, brought breaks in the tension at just the right times. Vivian Wembley and a newly introduced autobot, Cogman, nearly had me in tears in a few instances. The movie also features Arthurian wizard, Merlin played by Stanley Tucci, who brings humor within the first few moments of the film. Izabella also has her moments, and her banter with Cade Yeager never failed to amuse. Jimmy, played by Jerrod Carmichael, fulfills the role of the “wise-cracking sidekick” very well; nearly every one of his statements made me giggle.
Perhaps the greatest addition to the transformers franchise is the dinosaur autobots. There are three adult and three adolescent mechanical dinosaurs and I fell in love with them immediately. The raptors were ridiculously fierce, and watching the small one learn to breathe fire made me swoon. The triceratops baby that reminded me of a cat and the pterodactyl learning to fly will make you happy.
There are also several ways in which they slightly broke common tropes of literature and cinematography. While there was, of course, romance, Vivian was not written to be wish-fulfillment. She had true purpose in the plot, which is a much appreciated change. At first, it seemed the redemption trope was going to be played out exactly as it always is. However, they managed to combine redemption and temptation in a new and interesting way. I cannot elaborate too much without spoiling the movie, but Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) brings a fair amount of tension to the film.
Finally, Michael Bay applied his mastery of suspense very well to this film. As with all superhero movies, the ending is predictable; this does not stop you from feeling the nervousness during close calls and poor timing.
The visual effects were excellent, but far too much focus is placed on them. At times, it felt like the creators were just trying to prove they know how to create special effects. The movie felt long because of this. Movies should make you lose sense of time, not be more aware of it. Many of the fight and transforming scenes need to be shortened; they made time feel like a burden. The expanse of time many scenes took did nothing to further the plot. While being able to impress the viewers with skill is desirable, everything in literature should work to further the plot.
A note for writers: if a woman makes a joke about having a meeting naked without blushing, she will not stammer over walking in on a guy with his shirt pulled up. I was truly disappointed that they put romance into this movie. It was rushed, forced, and highly unnecessary. However, it was expected (which is why I am not worried about spoiling anything with regards to this). In every single transformers movie, the girl is a love interest. Honestly, with everything Vivian is, she should have existed without having to be another love interest. It’s boring and overplayed.
A small note related to things being overplayed: it also would have been nice to see more women in general. There are so many groups in this movie: two paramilitary, scientists and politicians. I think there was a woman or two in the politicians and scientists, but they were background characters with no lines. There was one particular scientist that had many lines and scenes in which he was featured that I adored. The actor was amazing, but it still would have been nice if his role was filled by a woman or even just if a woman was featured the way he was.
Initially, I had no idea what was going on in regards to the plot. It was very confusing, and it actually took me a couple moments to realize the movie had started. Thankfully, almost everything was cleared up by the end of the movie. However, so many parts of the movie outside of the main plot lacked context. Perhaps some of my confusion derived from not watching the fourth movie, but there were several featured people whose names were never even said. I am fairly certain there were two different paramilitary groups, but that wasn’t clear either and there may have only been one. One of those groups (if there was indeed more than one) was only ever referred to by an acronym (TRF), so I have no idea what the group stands for.
There are many fight scenes in this movie, and they all include Transformers. So the amount of screeching and grinding was unbearable, particularly as they did not put any music to soften those sounds in most of the fight sequences. Additionally, they put poor music to scenes that didn’t need music instead. Overall, the score was disappointing.
I liked this movie in the end. The actors and comedic relief make it work, and the plot is good. It definitely isn’t as good as the first movie, but it is light-years better than the third. There were definitely things I would change, but movies come down to their plot and characters over everything else. The plot and characters work, so the movie works.
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Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller
Director: Michael Bay
Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Isabela Moner, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock, Anthony Hopkins
Running Time: 2 hours 29 minutes