Transformers: The Last Knight

NO, REALLY … BIG-TIME SPOILERS

Heroic Autobot leader Optimus Prime left Earth at the end of 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction because he wanted to find and kill his Creator but it turns out he can’t fly in space and is immediately frozen, left floating aimlessly in space until he makes it all the way to his home planet Cybertron, which is heading to Earth and is piloted by Quintessa, the Creator robot he was looking for, who wants to use an artifact she once created to harness Cybertron’s power to eat Earth, which is secretly a giant robot named Unicron, so Quintessa uses Optimus (now “Nemesis” Prime) as her slave / hunter to retrieve Merlin’s Staff, the ancient Cybertronian artifact lost on Earth back in the 1400s when 12 Cybertronian Knights stole it from Quintessa and crash-landed on Earth, handing the staff to Merlin, as in King Arthur Merlin, before going into hibernation until the day Quintessa came seeking her tool and the destruction of Unicron / Earth to save Cybertron, which has been dying forever, anyway 1,600 years later the Decepticons are falling on Earth in endless waves while the humans hunt Autobots because of the Battle of Chicago seen in 2011’s Dark of the Moon, a movie now more than half the series old but still the coolest thing they ever did, anyway Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) has spent the time since the last movie hiding the Autobots at a junkyard in South Dakota, but is in Chicago looking through wreckage from the battle six years ago when he meets Izabella (Isabela Moner), a young girl whom he refers to as “little J-Lo” because she’s brown-skinned, anyway they find a Cybertron Knight in a crashed spaceship for some reason who has been holding on to the last vestiges of life with a six-year–old gaping wound, waiting for a fellow Knight to come and retrieve his talisman of unknown power, which he bequeaths to Yeager because Yeager hasn’t fucked in like 18 years and is now a virgin again, and then Yeager is tracked to his South Dakota base by the evil human forces who have allied with evil Decepticon leader Megatron and his “gangsta” lackeys, and in the ensuing escape Cade and Isabella and trusty but often silent sidekick Bumblebee meet Cogman, a hyper-violent robot butler to Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins), who needs Yeager to help solve the secret of Merlin’s Staff, so then Cade and Bumblebee go to England and meet Burton who tells them about the Witwiccans, an organization dedicated to protecting Transformers throughout time, and subsequently explains that they need Merlin’s Staff and Merlin’s last descendent to use it and stop Quintessa from eating Unicron, leading the group to meet Vivian (Laura Haddock), who is the super-hot last descendant of Merlin and who flirts with Yeager, who is too much of an asshole to reciprocate with anything but light abuse, leading the two toward a toxic mutual attraction that leads into director Michael Bay’s attempt at a bizarre 30-minute sex comedy where her clothes become progressively more and more practical rather than slutty as she changes outfits, which is an odd first for Bay but fitting for how dissonant this film is, blah, blah, blah, they go into a submarine and Anthony Hopkins calls some guy “fat ass” and then they go to the Cybertron Knights’ sunken ship where Merlin was buried and they get the staff but SURPRISENemesis Prime shows up and takes the staff before fighting Bumblebee, who randomly discovers his own voice long enough to turn Nemesis back into good Optimus again two hours into this movie, and then the final battle begins with the humans essentially engaging in D-Day on the swinging pendulum pieces of Cybertron as the mass holocaust of man wipes out entire cities and the 12 original Cybertron Knights merge into a giant dragon that Optimus rides into battle before the humans manage to get the staff and vanquish Quintessa, Cade gets laid, Optimus says the final battle with Unicron (whom they just saved) is about to begin, and Quintessa shows up in Africa and starts recruiting humans to help her try to kill Unicron, which is also Optimus’ new goal, rendering the entire convoluted plot of the last 150 minutes of your life entirely meaningless

and

Transformers: The Last Knight is the cinematic equivalent of a breathless run-on sentence screamed by a showboating kid powered by Red Bull and Ritalin, whose only response to waning interest from his audience is escalation, Escalation, ESCALATION, voice getting louder as his words race out as fast as the dollars dumping down the drain making this beautiful, intoxicating, awful mess of a movie, full-on anti-cinema in the sense that it exists contrary to every single aspect of filmmaking an audience expects — including quality, so-bad-it’s-bad and therefore as important a historical artifact as Gone with the Wind or something, except in this case it is weaponized cinema, a 100% pure uncut snort-this-shit-to-obliteration silver-screen life sentence in the blistering brain-slammer of summer blockbuster nirvana, an endurance test for both the initiated and those without a clue as to what they’re going to see when they walk into a Michael Bay movie with “Transformers” in the title

oh boy

There’s really no way to know what stupid wonders you will witness from second to second, moment to moment in this movie because no single scene has a sense of itself, no line of dialogue or character beat or even action sequence feels coherent in and of itself; desperate searches are cut with stupid sex comedy bits, major action moments with incoherent geography and comedy, character interactions with blatant racial stereotyping; it’s all here, all for you to see spread out on the goddamn IMAX like some perverted kid’s show-and-tell, oh well, oh well, and yes it’s kind of boring at parts but then those moments are interrupted by sheer depraved lunacy that seems unique to any film I have seen in 2017

or 2016

or 2015

Or really since Age of Extinction three long years ago; that abomination that almost made my Top 10 once, can you believe it, my Top 10, a goddamn Michael Bay “Transformers” movie because let me let you in on a little secret: film critics have championed this free-association bullshit for more than a decade, touting Bay as some kind of kinetic performance master or surrealist genius when truly he’s just a man cashing in, but apparently this entry in the franchise is his last — why pretend to celebrate, we’d biscuit the next one just as hard, just as passionately and just as stupidly for the sake of fun, I guess, or something like it, disciples in the church of dumb, acolytes of Bay the God of celluloid madness

Alas

I wanted to capture the spirit of Transformers: The Last Knight with this review and I think I did; if you made it this far maybe you owe it to yourself to see this and I honestly implore you to see it at the Indiana State Museum IMAX because although I give this film a mound of shit it is an experience of some uniqueness, so give it the due it deserves and see it on the best screen in the state.


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Administrator of Midwest Film Journal. Previously a staff writer for TheFilmYap.com, Evan has been writing film criticism in the Indianapolis area for over half a decade. He is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. He also reviews Oreos.


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