Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Spoiler-Free Transformers: The Last Knight Review

There is two ways to write a spoiler-free review for Transformers: The Last Knight - the short way and the long way. The short way is if you liked the previous films, you will like this one. It has all the Michael Bay elements you expect, all just kicked up to a new notch compared to the previous entry with all the good and the bad that implies. I was not a big fan of Age of Extinction so that should give you a hint on how the long version is going to go.

While many reviewers keep going on and on about the "complicated" story, it really isn't. Its the exact same formula as the previous four films. There is a McGuffin, the bad guys want it to save Cybertron at the expense of Earth. The good guys want it to save the day. Since its a Transformer McGuffin that means it was hidden in the past, it must be found through a series of coincidences in information drops (the one involving Stonehenge was clever), and victory is achieved by a human activating (or deactivating it) to save the day. The rest is just window dressing around that core story to make it seem more complicated then it really is.

This ultimately remains the consistent problem with the Bay version of the Transformers. Making things look complicated that are not or do not have to be at the expense of everything else (except the Bayhem of course). This story introduces a whole lot of characters of which none really matter. There really is only a few characters you should pay attention. To main one, of course, is Cade Yeager (I am in it for the paycheck Mark Wahlberg) who is missing his daughter and hiding from the Transformers Response Force (TRF) in a junk yard with the rest of the Autobots from Age of Extinction minus Optimus Prime and gets his own half McGuffin piece even though it really only matters for one cool moment in the third act. Sir Edmund Burton (having fun Anthony Hopkins) is an exposition factory whose role as last remaining member of a society that kept all the secret knowledge of Transformers history could have easily been handed off to voice over, text, or a book that Vivian Wembley (always game Laura Haddock) finds. Haddock does the best she can with the what is really the sidekick role but ultimately her job is to be pretty and provide love interest looks in between battle sequences.

Believe it or not, that's it. Santiago Cabrera (Transformer hating soldier), Isabela Moner (replacement daughter), Jerrod Carmichael (comedy relief), Josh Duhamel (friendly to Autobots soldier) do what they can along with a bunch of other characters but quite literally all of them could have either been left on the cutting room floor or their scenes quickly cut down to a line or two said by random extra or your average one and done character actor without having any impact on the film's story. That is how unimportant they are and a sign of just how much noise to signal ratio this film has.

As for as the Transformers, Bumblebee and Optimus Prime matter but while the Autobots all get a brief moment to shine but they mostly exist as giant size soldiers to shoot things or be shot at. They hint at individual characters but their actual character doesn't matter. The Decepticons even get an inexplicable "Suicide Squad" type introduction that shortly thereafter becomes pointless. Really any scene could be replaced with any same faction random Transformer and played nearly the same and in many cases I would understand if you thought they had been. All of this before I get into some weird lines, odd moments, cuts that feel like there was a scene missing just before it and more.

Instead, now that we have the story and lack of character development part out of the way, lets get to why we really see these films - the Bayhem. This one has it in spades. It really is nearly wall to wall action. Its Bayham dialed to eleven with everything you expect and then some. The spectacle is on full display and it can be fun to watch (especially in IMAX 3D) if a bit much at times. The action takes place on land, sea, air and no air. Compared to other directors, Bay is now downright conservative in his quit cuts and minimal shaky cam (you can thank real 3D IMAX requirements for that) which means the action is easier to track but often the same colored Transformers can be hard to differentiate in the action. The CGI is incredible and the ILM Transformers team deserves all the rewards for their efforts. I honest to god can't wait to see them paired with a different director because I suspect the weirder, clunkier moments (Dinobots appearing from nowhere, rolling around for no reason, a planet that strings portions of itself out only to pull em back in, etc.) are Bay ordered and actually holding back the team.

In short, its the ultimate summer popcorn film. Show up, turn your brain off, and enjoy the action. Just don't bother to track all the characters, story, or look for any meaningful character development as all end where they began, just the worse for wear after all the Bayhem. For longtime fans of the films, there are Easter Eggs (some small, some not) to the previous films. For the really long time fans going back to the 80s, there is a name drop that will make you very happy but just keep in mind that it doesn't lead to anything in this film, instead left for whoever writes and directs Transformers 6 to pick up if they choose to. There is a credit scene but it picks right up at the end of the movie, once its over that is it, no mid-credits or end of credits scene. Add what you thought in the comments.

Minor update: Swapped out post pic with poster created by masdabboy.

Minor update 2: Realized first paragraph or so of my initial review got removed, probably when I swapped posters so added it back (7-5-17)

16 comments:

  1. Once again Grimlock is in the movie for a total of 10 minutes in the beginning and isnt even in the big battle at the end. What a total waste of one of the most popular transformers ever again.

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  2. I saw it last night and it really felt like Bay kicked everyone in the nuts just for shits and giggles. Hes really lost his grasp and its hard to believe Hasbro even signed off on a couple of things in the movie.

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  3. Thought the humans were actually good but this one has the most human time which none of us wanted!!! Not enough Prime Megatron or hot rod...i said the same thing with suicide squad intro for decepticons...wish we could have input

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  4. Saw it last night too. I don't even know where to begin. As a fan of Bay's I really felt his heart wasn't in this. In a big way, I felt he did things just to piss fans off! It was so all.over the place with characters showing up out of nowhere, characters who were in previous films now have the same look, but different body paint. Characters that should have been used but we're most likey scrapped on editing floor. It just goes on and on and again, I'm a huge fan of Bay's and a huge fan of TF. This concept totally needs a Director that fresh. Takes the fans consideration to heart, tells a genuine story and you have a winner. Please, for the love of God let this be Bay's last one. He really destroyed this film.

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  5. It's disheartening to have a moment like a gestalt form, but in an unceremonious fashion, in a split second, with not focus or exhibition.

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  6. I agree with this review 99%. However, there was not "wall to wall action." There was a time when Anthony Hopkins, Mark Wahlberg and Laura Haddocks characters walked and talked for like 30 minutes straight. It was so boring I almost walked out of the movie. And the action scenes weren't even as good as the ones in previous movies.

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  7. Thank you for all the reviews guys, You've just saved me at least $10. I'll catch it on netflix in a few months.

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  8. I had different friends going last night and today so I went both...forgot optimus never transforms...decepticons get wiped out after suicide squad intro...and yes I saw my friends looking like when will they stop talking for that 30 mins! Agree with you all though bay didn't have any heart in this one he was gone after the last one

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  9. Don't see why no one likes this one. Plot was actually pretty good and the transformers themselves were in it a lot. And some of the deceptions actually talked! Good movie

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  10. I agree with everyone on here. I just got back from the movie and had to vent. I loved the first one and have tolerated the sequels; each time hoping they might turn things around and get back on the right track but this movie, like the other sequels, just wasn't able to do it. In fact, I think it was possibly the worst of the franchise and the biggest piece of crap Michael Bay has produced to date. He might as well have taken one of the Cybertronian Knight's swords and thrust it into deep into the heart of Primus himself (if he even exists in this TF universe, that is) and save Qunitessa, the grand deceiver, all the trouble.

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  11. Continuation from above...

    I was really hoping the writers room they assembled was going to be able to help create a cohesive and unified TF universe that made meaningful ties to some of the great transformers history and stories told over the years in the animated series, video games, books, etc. After seeing this, however, I feel that they shouldn't have even tried to touch on mythology at all because it's even more muddled and screwed up than ever before, almost to the point that it will be really challenging to try to bring it all together in this movie-verse in a way that makes sense and fans can be supportive of.

    I was hoping tonight I would be able to come home happy, but instead I'm left with an empty and dead feeling for the future of TF movies. What really worries me is that Hasbro and Paramount are now sold of this transformers through time concept where we're going to see transformers in the 1980's, ancient Rome, and in who knows what other times. This is a completely lame concept that feels like a cheap rip-off of the newest X-men movies' concept of telling stories in different eras. Here's an idea for the writer's room, maybe they could do a movie about the Dinobots set in pre-historic time [sarcasm]. This way we could maybe actually see the Dinobots in robot mode and actually hear them talk and have real personalities.

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  12. Final piece....

    The bottom line is there is so much potential here for stories that are true to the universe that fans can enjoy. Hasbro really needs to assert themselves and protect their intellectual property. I think there really needs to be a cleaning of the house over there. Throw out the writers room crap, don't do a reboot, and carefully and skillfully craft a story that unifies everything that's been in the movies thus far and establishes a solid foundation for a better, deeper, and more meaningful movie-verse in the future. They need to bring in people on the movies who are true fans and know the history of transformers. Empower these people to craft the direction of the stories instead of leaving it directors and producers that are content to turn their backs on the fans and make movies that do nothing but piss us off. When each movie comes out it's like going to the theater, getting kicked in the balls, and then realizing afterwards I paid for it.

    I don't know how many more substandard, sad, irrational, and completely annoying and worthless transformers movies I can take before I turn my back on the movies all together. I really hope things can get better.

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  13. i dont get it. it was a good movie the problem is yallwant the 80s back and you havent seen it yet. this isnt marvel and there is only 1 marvel studio. i didnt see an issue with this movie. we saw cybertron almost destroy earth, megatron with his gun and kill a human. as far as the decepticons i agree they shouldnt have killed them off so quickly. Prime nneded more screen time as a villan. personally i would have quintessa lock prime up and send nemesis prime. I don't want to see another marvel movie in another world. I liked all the movies except for the 2nd one. Jeez let the 80s go its not gonna happen. All this talk about character development the last film complain was not enuff TFs then when gv it to u u complain. ots a gd movie

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    1. Agree completely! I grew up on G1 as well but I rather liked this movie. It wasn't as good as the others but it wasn't bad and left me looking forward to the next. Imo the 30min of talking is pretty much exaggerated and was a good point to it to wrap up some loopholes such as what happened to Sam.

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  14. seen it twice, worth my money both times. enjoyable film to just sit back & watch. suicide squad intro ripoff didn't bother me, was still a fun intro(how many ideas are truly original anyways in this era of films?). there was a fair amount of roll your eyes cheese, but also many legit lol moments. Thought hot rod was bad a$$ & cogman was simply brilliant. king Arthur intro was cool, disservice to not see in 3d or imax. some fun easter eggs. biggest thing that bothered me was cades stupid hair. hope the movie does well enough to allow another sequel, I don't think this franchise is done yet. Many stories yet to tell.

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