Kori: So Transformers. We knew this movie was coming, and that we’d have to review it for the Fandomentals. Hell, it’s impossible to NOT know this movie was coming from how pervasive the advertising campaign was. Unless you’re a Luddite and living off the grid. I envy the Luddites in this instance.
Anyway, we knew this movie would have to be witnessed and written about, and because I’m not a terrible wife, I went in with Jeremiah to go see this turkey.
Was it as bad as Fifty Shades Darker? No. Was it good? No. Let’s break it down.
Transformers: The Last Knight is set sometime in the future after Optimus Prime leaves Earth for some mission that is never clearly defined, and the people of Earth have outlawed any Transformers. Except for Cuba. Apparently, Castro is totally cool with letting any Transformer, Autobot or Decepticon chill on his beaches.
We’re treated to a tonally inconsistent “epic” battle with King Arthur (Liam Garrigan) facing off against a barbarian horde interspersed with Merlin (Stanley Tucci) getting drunk for funsies and meeting with a Transformer knight from a giant Transformer spaceship, obtaining a staff because he asked nicely (that’s all it takes to get a staff of unlimited power?) and riding back to save Arthur’s ass with a robot dragon. It sets the tone for the entire movie.
Jeremiah: About twenty minutes in you turned to me and asked: “What is going on?” This encapsulates what it feels like to watch a Transformers movie. You just sit in the dark wondering what the hell happened for any of this to occur.
Kori: Can you blame me? That opening tried to cram three different genres from four different movies in one segment and started offering up “epic movie moments” that had all the weight and build behind them of a preschooler’s popsicle stick birdhouse.
Jeremiah: Oh I understand and relate. But in a Michael Bay movie, you don’t have feelings and plot so much as ‘stuff happens’ and keeps happening until the credits roll and you’re left going, “Well that happened?”
Kori: Yes. But so many things happened. I used to joke that Australia was a bargain movie because you got three plots in one. Transformers: The Last Knight blows this out of the water. We start with an extended sequence of a group of school kids sneaking into a restricted area, and it’s got all the setup of a far shallower Power Rangers movie, except boom, shit blows up, the kids get rescued by Cade (Mark Wahlberg) and Not Becky G and we never see them again.
Then Cade suddenly has a run in with the TRF (an anti-Transformer extremist group who wants them all dead or detained) and gets rescued by Bumblebee and co. He rides off into the sunset with Not Becky G stowing away with her little Autobot friend Squeaks. And this is after a BIG SAD MOMENT where Not Becky G’s other robot friend, Canopy, is murdered right in front of her by the TRF. She cries over his death, and then it’s never. Mentioned. Again.
Jeremiah: Well there’s no time. We have to move on to not Megan Fox in this movie, an Oxford Professor with umpteen degrees, who is a bit of a klutz, wears pencil skirts and stiletto heels, and whose Mother is trying to hook her up by looking through the classifieds.
Kori: Yes. But we get five minutes of her monologuing about how the King Arthur legend is bullshit so we know she’s a cool and edgy history professor before we cut back to Cade at his junkyard. And honestly, the time we spend with Cade and Not Becky G whose name is actually Izabella (Isabela Moner) is pretty solid.
Wahlberg and Moner have a fun, natural chemistry and there’s a decent found family dynamic working with them. If you overlook the three additional EPIC MOVIE MOMENTS that come out of nowhere and are just as quickly dismissed.
But this is a Bay film, and just as you’re getting invested in this little duo, surprise! BRAND NEW MOVIE GENRE ACT TWO!
Jeremiah: ENTER Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) as the last surviving Witwiccan. It’s an Order that’s sole purpose was to protect the secret history of the Transformers. Oh, and the staff of Merlin. Because magic is a thing now, but it isn’t because it’s just advanced technology. Except it is magic. I don’t even know anymore.
Burton kidnaps Not Megan Fox whose name is Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) via Hot Rod (Omar Sy) who speaks French now because French accents are funny. Odd, how he kidnaps Vivian but sends his Jekyll/Hyde bot Cogman (Jim Carter) to cordially invite Cade. Whatever, long story mercifully short, he tells the two that he needs their help to stay the tide of human history or some horse shit.
Kori: And all that time we spent with Cade and the Junkyard Autobots with their newly adopted teenage daughter is dropped like a hot potato. No, we have to go on a completely unnecessary car chase through London and ransack libraries and jump on a retired naval submarine that is actually a transformer that only reacts to Vivian, because oh yeah, SHE’S THE LAST DESCENDENT OF MERLIN AND ONLY SHE CAN WIELD THE STAFF. YOINKS.
So off we go merrily diving into the Atlantic depths, while Burton James Bond’s his way into the Prime Minister’s office and tells everyone to gather the troops ’round Stonehenge. Is any of this feeling like film whiplash? Yes? Congratulations, try watching it.
Jeremiah: You left out the part where Burton tells Cade that he’s a Knight because he fits all the qualities of the Knights of Arthur’s Round Table. Notably chastity. Then Burton and Vivian spend like two minutes mocking him for NOT having sex in a while?
Kori: Or how Bay attempts to be meta by calling out his predilection for EPIC MOVIE MOMENTS by having Burton tell Cogman to knock off playing the organ dramatically while he recounts the Order’s history.
Jeremiah: Oh my God, I forgot about that.
Kori: He does it again later in the movie when everything’s gone batshit and Cade, Vivian, and the reformed TRF plus our old pal Col. William Lennox (Josh Duhamel) are making a last attempt offense at landing on what is basically a floating cybernetic golf ball base to try and get the staff back that Optimus Prime stole (more on Optimus in a minute). They’re set to land in a torrential hail of Decepticon fire and out pops Izabella and Squeaks because… why? Izabella doesn’t know either and quickly verbalizes that this was probably a bad idea. Someone needs to tell Bay that the meta only counts if you course correct or play it with a wink and a nod. You don’t go meta then turn around and do it again for serious.
Jeremiah: Michael Bay doesn’t understand irony. Take Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). A character whose sole purpose in the movie is to go to his home planet, which we’ve known is a dead planet for like four movies now. Then we watch him get his ass handed to him by a floating metallic lady in the water type sorceress figure who’s just hanging around Cybertron, Quintessa (Gemma Chan).
She then ‘casts a spell’ on him and Prime becomes Nemesis Prime. Nemesis Prime then returns to Earth, gets his ass handed to him AGAIN. Shortly there after someone slaps him, or he hits his head, I don’t know, and I don’t give a fuck either. All I know is Optimus snaps out of it; we know this because he goes from losing fights to never shutting the hell up.
Kori: Long story short, the good guys win, Earth is saved and now connected to Cybertron, and everyone has to work together to rebuild. Oh, by the way, Earth is apparently one big transformer itself named Unicron that spouts seven horns.
Yup. Get ready for movie number six. At the end of the day, at least it’s anything but boring. We have no idea what’s supposed to be happening at any given moment, but unlike Fifty Shades Darker, we weren’t always checking our phones for the time and praying it was over. So, progress?
Kori: The nerdy NASA type guy who flips his shit about our heroes using “fairies and hobgoblins” to save the world instead of science and is then proved wrong. *Sigh*
Jeremiah: I loved Gil Birmingham as the Tribal Chief/Police Chief. All thirty seconds of him.
Also “The watch that killed Hitler.” I’m left wondering since we see Bumblebee fighting Nazis, did the Third Reich have Decepticons on their side? Also, implying that transformers fought in WWII begs the question of why it went on for so long; not to mention why Truman thought the A-bomb was necessary?
Kori: Remember how you told me to let the gothic arches in King Arthur’s court go? Same thing applies here. This movie is as shallow as a teacup, and you can’t think about it beyond just watching the flashing pictures on the screen.
Jeremiah: At one point Anthony Hopkins shows them all the people who were in the Order of Witwiccans and the movie just becomes this confusing montage of images and sound. I’m not sure, but I think Bay implied Harriet Tubman was a member of that order. Which, like the WWII thing, just raises a lot of vaguely offensive possibilities.
Kori: Bay tries to throw in a lot of fun, nifty little surprise!History moments in this. Tries being the key word. I can give him half a credit point for trying to diversify a secret society so that they weren’t all stuffy, rich white men. But some of the people he decided to include only raise more questions about this order, and the Autobots themselves.
Jeremiah: Hearing Anthony Hopkins say the words “Bitchin ride” was akin to hearing Sean Connery saying “You’re the man now dog.”
Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures