RW Review: Transformers: The Last Knight
Rating: PG-13 | Runtime: 2h 29min
Director: Michael Bay | Writer: Art Marcum, Matt Holloway
Cast: Mark Wahlberg (Cade Yeager), Anthony Hopkins (Sir Edmund Burton), Josh Duhamel (Lennox), Laura Haddock (Vivian Wembley), Isabela Moner (Izabella), Frank Welker (Megatron-Voice), Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime-Voice), Gemma Chan (Quintessa)
Spoiler Free Plot Synopsis:
Autobots and Decepticons are at war, with humans on the sidelines. Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. -via IMDB
Let me start off by saying that as a Transformers fan I gave up comparing these films to the source material long ago. It was a futile exercise that took away any modicum of enjoyment there may be in these films. I view them in their own universe with their own mythos, even though it has been disjointed as all hell from film to film as the franchise celebrates its ten year anniversary. On to my thoughts on the film.
This film picks off after the events of Transformers: Age of Extinction with Optimus Prime seeking out his creators and Transformers arriving on earth in droves, much to the dismay of the government. Transformers are hunted and Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) himself is an outlaw for helping them. I felt that taking the focus away from Yeager's daughter and placing it on him and the Autobots was a smart move, but only in a partial sense as Cade's daughter was replaced by newcomer Izabella, who, while having good chemistry with Yeager brought nothing to the overall story aside from some amusing moments.
Sir Anthony Hopkins' role was probably the second most vital role in this film as he helped establish a deeper backstory for Transformers being on earth. He also gave us some backstory on Bumblebee which will surely be explored further in the expected solo Bumblebee film. His scene with Transformers mainstay Agent Simmons (Turturro) was funny and fleshed out Simmons' involvement going forward in the future films. John Turturro has grown on me and I am glad to see him and Josh Duhamel active in the cast five movies later and still contributing to the film's narrative as best they can.
Laura Haddock rounds out the primary cast and is crucial in the film's third act plus is a quasi-love interest for Cade Yeager. Her involvement and acting were solid but sadly also forgettable. This is unfortunate, as I really liked Haddock's work on the Starz series Da Vinci's Demons.
The human element took a backseat for the most part in this film and we got more of the story from the Autobot and Decepticon point of view. Not to mention for once we were able to tell all the robots apart on both sides of the battle. We saw more colorful Decepticons both in terms of look and personality and not the usual jumbled silver messes we see. My gripe on the Decepticon side is that Michael Bay has killed off all of the iconic Decepticon characters and instead we got a bunch of corny replacements that no matter how much they tried to make cool did not hold a candle to characters like Starscream, Soundwave, and Shockwave.
I wanted to also touch on Megatron's return, which had no explanation whatsoever even though Age of Extinction ended with Megatron becoming Galvatron. A flashback or quick cutscene would have helped clear that up, but alas they opted to just act like Megatron never changed to Galvatron – continuity be damned! Also worth noting, as a huge Dinobot fan, I hated that they were relegated to comic relief and recieved no screen time for the film's climax.
The “big bad” besides the Decepticons was Quintessa, who in this film was the billed as Optimus Prime's creator. In the Transformers mythos no such character exists, instead we have the Quintessons whose home planet is aptly named Quintessa.
Quintessa's powers are vast and she was instrumental in the “turning” of Optimus Prime (which was shown in the trailers so no spoilers there). Her involvement in future films is something we definitely need to keep an eye on as she gives us a glimpse at a much larger threat on the horizon which borrowed heavily from recent Transformers Prime cartoon.
I was happy to see that some of the villains did not get killed off completely this time as is usually the case with these films. Let's see what the writer's room has planned for the Autobots and Decepticons post-Michael Bay. (There is a part of me that thinks that even though this was allegedly going to be his last film that he'll be back.)
Transformers: The Last Knight is a visual rollercoaster ride with a semi-passable story and some genuinely amusing moments. Let's be honest in accepting the fact that the plots, for the most part, are pretty cookie cutter and leave much to be desired. Looking past the plot's shortcomings and plot holes the special effects were amazing from start to finish and the usage of IMAX cameras really made the film a larger than life experience, which is what you want in a summer blockbuster. If you've seen the past films give this one a shot to see the story pan out and if you can, an IMAX/3D viewing is highly recommended. One last thing…there is a scene in the credits that will set the stage for the next film and move along a big screen debut for a character that fans have been anxiously awaiting to see on the big screen.