Director Michael Bay’s swan song in the Transformers franchise, Transformers: The Last Knight, commits the film industry's cardinal sin: it’s not entertaining.
While we don’t watch ‘cars that are also massive fighting robots’ movies for Oscar winning writing and performances, we do expect them to be enjoyable, but this one somehow lacks the watchability of the previous ones.
The movie starts with the revelation that Transformers have been around since the days of Arthur and his knights. And the wizard Merlin’s magic was really help from a Transformer (a Cybertronian three-headed-fire-breathing robot dragon, which is pretty cool!) and his magic staff is a powerful artifact, which he's left behind.
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Back to present day, Transformers are not welcome, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) is missing, and protagonist Cade Yeager (Mark Walberg) is waging a lonely fight to save as many Transformers as he can.
Naturally, the bad guys want the artifact and Yeager is chosen as a knight to defend it and keep it out of the baddies' hands.
Although the film starts off fairly well, establishing the foundation and context quickly and clearly, it starts falling apart in the middle. Partly because the movie attempts to blend elements from various genres: heist movie-style adrenaline rushes, treasure hunt by way of deciphering clues, comic book style character introductions, and explanations from an old and eccentric ‘secret keeper’ played by Anthony Hopkins. Problem is, these elements are cliche and follow the lacklustre and negligent storytelling so common in films today. It also didn't bring anything new to the table despite the blend of genres; instead, it only weighed the movie down with too many subplots.
Even Hopkins' charisma and few good jokes couldn't save his scenes, that were full of dialogue but in which nothing much happens, from being boring.
Ultimately, the pace dragged on and sapped the audience's attention. The fight scenes - the saving grace of any adventure film - were, true to Bay's work, massive spectacles of action and explosions. But the action defies physics so much you can hear the suspension of disbelief shatter into a million pieces, and moviegoers cringing as it breaks. Even the CGI had room to improve.
When all else fails, audiences look for, "well, at least it was funny." Sadly, the comedic elements in Transformers: The Last Knight was not only inconsistent in its delivery and effect, but it really detract from the high stakes of ‘we must save the world or we all die’ concept of the film.
Go ahead and watch this if the rain of the past week returns and sticks around for a while. Otherwise, surely there are better things for you to do.
Edited by Heidi Yeung