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Transformers: The Last Knight




Transformers: The Last Knight (PG-13)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

06/29/17
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



 Humans and Autobots join forces, again, to save the world, again, in Transformers: The Last Knight, the fifth and possibly worst of the Michael Bay Transformers movies.

And “worst” has some competition in this series.
Glossing over many many things in the end-of-the-yard-sale heap of random dump-bound items that is this movie, here is the basic story: Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), inventor from the last movie, receives a magical knight accessory from a new-to-Earth Autobot. This metal seal, which attaches itself to Cade’s bicep, can turn into a weapon when needed and is also sort of sentient, it appears.
Also, a British historian-type/Megan Fox dead-ringer named Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) finds out she is the last in a family line that traces all the way back to Merlin (Stanley Tucci), wizard of King Arthur fame. As such, she has the power to wield a magical staff that, among other things, helps control a three-headed dragon made up of several knight-like Transformers who crashed on Earth some millennium and a half ago. 
These two knight-related factoids come together in a fight to protect the planet from Quintessa (voice of Gemma Chan), a Transformer god (Transformer god?) who wants to, if I understand this correctly, use the aforementioned magic staff to plug the remains of Cybertron, the Transformers’  home world, into Earth (via Stonehenge, a magical USB port, I guess), which will lead to the rebirth of Cybertron and the destruction of Earth, which, wasn’t that sort of the plot of a previous Transformers movie? (The third one, according to Wikipedia. And, also, sort of, Man of Steel?) 
Transformers: The Last Knight is a mess, a jumbled crazy mess even messier and jumbledier than The Mummy, which I remember only a few weeks ago thinking set a new low for crazy messiness. In addition to the aforementioned plot, this movie includes:
• A 14-year-old daughter-like figure for Cade named Izabella (Isabela Moner). I feel like the purpose of Izabella is to provide an answer to those (me, for example) who think these movies tend to be icky about girls and women. Izabella is a bad-ass tween-type who is an engineer and lives in the rubble created from some Transformers-related battle. Izabella is super-important early in the movie and then, like, disappears, only to be shoved into the finale for no reason. Consider the “positive portrayals of women and girls” box not checked, movie.
• A flashback that riffs on the King Arthur stories and features Stanley Tucci having a pretty good time playing Merlin.
• Anthony Hopkins, whose character has this whole storyline about being in a secret society called the Witwiccan (who, like, know about the ye olden Transformers and Merlin and may or may not be related to Merlin; I Googled this plot point and I still don’t get it). But the otherwise forgotten Sam Witwicky of the first three movies does get a very brief visual nod. Also, Hopkins character may or may not be bonkers, the movie can’t seem to decide. (Side note: I also did a fair amount of Googling to try to figure out if the Laura Haddock character’s name is Vivian or Viviane and I can’t get a straight answer on that either.)
• Hopkins’ character’s possibly immortal rage-filled robot butler, voiced by Jim Carter a.k.a. Carson the butler from Downton Abbey.
• An unnecessary John Turturro whose character delivers most of his lines from a phone booth in Cuba.
• An international military force that hunts down Transformers of all stripes, usually showing up whenever the movie needs some explosions.
• A different branch of the U.S. military that still employs the Josh Duhamel character.
• Some  Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen) continuing-saga stuff (he meets Quintessa on a trip to ... do … something).
• A subplot about Megatron (voice of Frank Welker) that I never really understood.
• An odd anti-science message toward the end of the movie, which pits a scientist’s perfectly sensible idea for destroying the Cybertron power-sucker against Vivian’s plan to just grab the staff, “by the power of Grayskull”-style. I feel like in a better movie, these things would work together.
Pick, like, two of those things, pair it with the Transformers movies’ admirable disinterest in taking themselves seriously and the inherent possibilities for action awesomeness that come with sentient robots that can transform into cars and you could have a decent action movie. (You would also need to slice the movie down by an hour and set an “acceptable number of cuts per scene” limit at considerably fewer than this movie feels is OK.) But all of these things, stuffed into one movie, especially one movie that seems pretty lax about plot and pacing and internal logic, and you have a junk-drawer effect of a wad of single socks, rubber bands, out-of-date pizza menus, pen caps and old receipts. Sure, there might be a useable gift card in there somewhere, but are you really going to dig through to find it? Likewise, there might be some promise in a “girl living in a no man’s land, fixing wounded Autobots” set up or an “Autobot refugees flock to Earth” plot point (two things this movie sets up in the beginning and then never returns to), but when you bury these things in so much narrative garbage and visual clutter, who cares?
Perhaps weirdest of all, this Transformers movie feels really light on Transformers and story related to our core Transformers. At some point, the movie wanders around in Vivian’s story, not just her role as the last Witwiccan (or the last whatever she is) but also her relationship with her late father and her mother’s desire for her to get married. Talk about a big scoop of “who cares” plunked into the story in the middle of the action (well, sort of in the middle of the action; though every scene has that movie trailer “maximum excitement, minimum space” feel, the movie felt like it took forever to rev up, arguably until the final act). The few times that we get scenes that put the Transformers themselves at the center, I was reminded that they can be fun characters — the kind of characters you might want to feature in a movie called Transformers. D-
Rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of sci-fi action, language and some innuendo. Directed by Michael Bay with a screenplay by Art Marcum & Matt Holloway & Ken Nolan, Transformers: The Last Knight is two hours and 29 minutes long and is distributed by Paramount. 





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