Friday, July 21, 2017
Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
Plot: Set sometime after the events of the last film, the Transformers have been outlawed by most governments of the world. Cade Yager has been hiding Autobots while a military force called TRF is hunting them and the Decepticons down. When Cade is given a metal talisman from a dying Cybertronian knight, Megatron and a band of released Decepticons chase after him, leading him to flee and come across an astronomer and historian named Sir Edmund Burton and his Autobot butler, Cogman who informs him that he has been chosen to be the last knight and thus must protect an Oxford professor named Viviane who is the last decendant of Merlin the Sorcerer who must find Merlin's staff to protect the world. Meanwhile, Optimus Prime finds the remains of Cybertron where a Soreceress named Quintessa informs him that Earth is the Chaos Bringer himself: Unicron who is asleep and must be stopped before he wakes up. Optimus Prime decides to go back to Earth, hypnotized by Quintessa thus becoming Nemesis Prime. If any of this makes sense...good for you.
When this movie kept getting closer and closer, I cringed. It was so painful to know that Michael Bay is continuing to make these movies that have little to no devotion to the source material whatsoever. It especially hurt that this contains good ideas for a story like Optimus Prime becoming bad because he became possesed by Dark Energon (or so I thought was the reason), and we were going to see Unicron who is basically the devil in Transformers mythology on the big screen and all of that was ineviteably going to be wasted by a director that wants to focus on unecesary explosions, women and racial sterotypes. It angers me how a franchise that has so much potential for the big screen is being wasted for the stupidest of things, and what's worse is that by the time its rebooted to be done right, Peter Cullen and Frank Walker could be dead or retired. So after finally going to see this sucker with my dad, how was Bay's fifth abomination? The honst answer is that it's as horrible as you would expect...but not without some very minor posititves that at least makes it better than Age of Extinction.
Let's get the most obvious problems of the film out of way first. The story is still a whole bunch of crap and silly ridiculous nonsense that has a good bajillion plot holes and storylines that lead absolutely nowhere. But to the film's credit (for lack of a better term), this plot is slightly easier and more interesting to follow than in Age of Extinction. Age of Extinction was mostly giving us just the same plot as the first movie excpet it was also throwing a bunch of things together that make you lose track of what was happening. This at least had the interesting aspect of trying to save the world from Cybertron, Unicron and Optimus Prime turned into Nemesis Prime. They still do a whole lot of ridiculous stuff that makes no sense and it's still a disgrace to the franchise as a whole, but as a Transformers fan there's still some aspects that look a little interesting. I do like the idea of how Optimus is tricked by Quintessa to become Nemesis Prime as opposed to simply becoming possessed by Dark Energon a.k.a. the blood of Unicron like I thought was going to happen. And we get the "twist" that Unicron is actually Earth itself falling asleep just like in Transformers: Prime. I will admit that as much as I would have liked to have actually seen Unicron as himself, I didn't expect them to take a similar direction from what I consider to be the best Transformers TV series. All that said however, the structure and world building is still completely nuts. We have the rewriting of history from both the age of King Arthur and a moment in World War II where somehow Transformers played a part in both of them, and somehow the world is supposed to be really screwed up and treating everything like the Transformers are invading Earth and yet at the same time life is still kind of treated like normal to the point that Cade can still watch Nascar at home and people still play golf or his daughter will still go to college even though she knows that all this is still happening. Also slightly similar if not worse than the whole NASA conspiracy in Dark of the Moon with Soundwave and Laserbeak, there are some plot points concerning Cybertron and Earth that will leave you asking yourself, "Where was this new lore during the events of the other films? What were these new characters doing during the battles of Chicago or Egypt or anything like that?"
The human characters are about as stupid as you expect them to be... mostly. Mark Wahlberg is mostly being just Mark Wahlberg which isn't necessarily a bad thing. He at least is an entertaining actor even with a Michael Bay directing the film, and it's not like we're getting any performances worse than his role in The Happening. The 14-year-old girl that you've seen the trailers has virtually no point in the movie after the first 10 or so minutes. Valerie's point in the plot is completely forced in that she is only special because she is someone's ancestor and legitimately nothing else going for her except for arguably being brave enough to try to complete the quest while Decepticons are trying to kill her. Anthony Hopkins probably brings the most likeable aspect of the movies for simply no other reason than being Anthony Hopkins saying dumb exposition in a way that makes it cool just because he's Anthony Hopkins. That said however, he falls flat on some moments where he is trying to make some of Micahel Bay's "comedic" dialogue funny but failing miserably. There's a specific moment when he meets Cade Yager and Anthony Hopkins keeps talking about whole bunch of mindless stuff for good minute or two and it's and he's trying to be funny but it's just painful to watch. And that is so sad that I actually have to say that about watching Anthony freaking Hopkins of all people. Simmons is in this movie once again for literally no other reason than to bring some mindless exposition that you will forget before the movie gets to the climax. The only other actors that I like seeing in this movie was Lennox. As stupid as a lot of the characters are from the first three movies, he at least had a character that you sort of admire for literally no other reason than being the soldier who bravely fought alongside Optimus, Bumblebee and the other Autobots.
The Autobots have almost have has little purpose to be in this movie as they did in the last three sequels. A lot of their scenes are them saying a bunch of dumb Michael Bay humor or showing whatever stereotypes they are. What pisses me off the most about the Autobots is that Grimlock briefly appears in the beginning but has virtually no other purpose outside of that. To give a real middle finger to some fans like me, Wheelie is alive. So not only did Brain survive the ship crash in the end of Dark of the Moon which I thought was one of the best aspects about that movie but even Wheelie survives even though they clearly made it look like they both died which was great because a lot of people hated both of those characters. But nope, now we have to continue these movies knowing that both of them survived and are as annoying as ever. That is really dumb! Bumblebee as usual has the most attention and they try to go over this whole thing about his missing voice which had a little bit of potential but gets wasted almost as quickly as it was the first time at the end of the first movie. Optimus Prime surpisingly rarely appears in this movie. Much like in Revenge of the Fallen, he's there a couple of times in the beginning, he is nowhere in the second act, and then just appears again just in time for the entire climax. But the biggest insult to me personally was Hot Rod. Now I'm not going to pretend that I'm a big fan of Hot Rod as a Transformers fan, in fact I sort of sympathize with people who dislike him because he replaced Optimus Prime in the animated movie. Having said that, when I heard that he was going to be in his movie I expected him to play a fairly similar role to what he had in the animated film. But literally all we get from him instead is that he has a gun that controls time and gravity and that he speaks a French accent. I'm not even a fan of him and yet that was such a big insult that I flipped off the screen.
Sadly the Decepticons had just as small amount of screen time is that usually do in these movies. But the same time it's all for the best when you get moments like a montage of Megatron demanding the release of some Decepticon that is a total tone shift of the movie. What makes it even worse is that some of the Decepticons are human stereotypes. I'm not going to defend that the Decepticons have had the best track record of being represented correctly in these films in the past, but they at least had a menacing presence of some kind in the first three films. And to have them change that so that some of them have annoying stereotypes including a small Decepticon that turns into a motorcycle that has a mohawk who is litteraly named Mohawk, that pissed me off so much that I flipped off the screen with both fingers. Thankfully, characters like Mohawk did not get as much as attention as I was afraid they would, but they still left it in an annoying impact. How about Megatron himsel? You know sadly the thought has occurred to me between Age of Extinction and now how Megatron has never truly been leader of the Decepticons. I mean he appeared to be the leader in the first movie, but then that is immediately botched in the second film when we find out that he was working for the Fallen, and then in the third movie he gets kicked down by Sentinel Prime and then the fourth film he actually does become the leader of the Decepticons, but he specifically becomes the leader of the human made Decepticons that he easily reprogrammed with his random psychic powers. Now in this film he is really nothing more than just a scoundrel of sorts. He doesn't appear to have any plans for world/universe domination, he has no real desire to destroy the humans, and when you get to the main plot of this movie, he turns out to be working for someone else AGAIN. Who should have been one of the most intimidating and compelling sci-fi villains you could ever put in the silver screen has become one of the most pathetic and useless characters in the entire live-action Transformers franchise.
So with all these negative things to say, is there anything remotely likable in The Last Knight? Well, there are a couple of things, surprisingly. As I said before, I do like that we get some aspects of the franchise that fans like me are more likely to recognize like Earth turning out to be Unicron and Optimus becoming Nemesis Prime. As pointless as Megatron is, I do like his new design where we finally see him wielding his arm cannon. Although the first scene with they were he shoots fire at a random spot while he's talking to Barricade looks so stupid that it's a little funny. And we also have Frank Welker finally voicing as Megatron and in his Transformers: Prime voice specifically which is welcoming. And while the action itself is nothing specia,l we do somewhat get new locations for where the action takes place. Yeah, you have a car chase in the middle of a city and things like that, but then you have the climax where there is an air battle between the autobots, the humans and the Decepticons, and then they're fighting each other on what's left of Cybertron. None of these fights really stand out as cool or interesting, but they at least feel a little more epic than the final battle in Age of Extinction and we at least see Transformers fighting in new locations. And believe it or not, there are a couple of times for the humor is actually funny. Don't get me wrong, the poor humor that you would expect is there on a silver platter just as you would expect, but every now and then they pull a joke that surprisingly is a little funny. There's a scene with Anthony Hopkins and the Prime Minister of Britain that is well-timed, and his Transormer butler, Cogman has a K-2SO kind of personality who is annoying at times but how does a few jokes that resulted in me as well as some of the other people in the theater room laughing out loud.
And that's my review for Transformers: The Last Knight. Is it as pointless, stupid, and as big of a disgrace to the franchise as we have come to expect from these movies? Oh yes, no doubt whatsoever. The plot makes no sense, the world-building contradicts itself, the human characters have no interesting qualities outside of Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Hopkins simply for the sake of being Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Hopkins, and the Transformers themselves are poor representations of the characters that a lot of us know and love. Is it worse than Age of Extinction? No, that movie was a more remarkable mess in how it had little to no effort in what it was doing and it was a complete fetish film for everything that we know about Michael Bay. This film is a complete mess as well, but it at least had the decency to have a couple of jokes that actually worked and some fan service that's poorly done but enjoyable all the same. In fact at this point, I'm beginning to sense a odd pattern with these films. It seems like the odd-numbered films are the ones that have the least unpleasant jokes and put the most effort in giving us some fanservice whereas the even-numbered films give us no real effort or passion and us are the bigger disgraces of the Transformers franchise as a whole. The first movie at least made the experience of watching live-action Transformers epic and had nod offs like Optimus saying "One shall stand, one shall fall." Dark of the Moon at least gave us glimpses of the ARK, Shockwave, the Matrx of Leadership in its rightful place, Energon towers, Optimus' trailer, Soundwave and Lazerbeak spying on people and space bridges. And now with this film, we at least get Megatron having his arm cannon at last, hints of Unicron emergings (though I'm not optimisitc), Nemesis Prime and Walker finally giving Megatron his rightful voice. Revenge fo the Fallen and Age of Extinction may have had some likable moments that fans would like, but they're better known for being true disgraces of the franchise as well as cinema as a whole. At the end of the day, I hope Michael Bay will stay true to his promise that this will be his last film or the poor box office results will be the key to make him stop making these films anyway. What else can a Transformers fan say except I hope that we're not far away from seeing everything that he's done with the franchise finally crash and burn.
BTW, stay turned as I soon makea movie that I've been meaning to see for a long time become my 700th review.