Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Grimlock, the Triceratops Autobot, the red Autobot, the green Autobot, the lime-green Autobot, and Mark Wahlberg are back to save the world (again) from destruction at the hands of the Decepticons, or the creators, or the fallen, or somebody. Transformers: The Last Knight changes what we know of the Transformers past on Earth and weaves it into the legend of Merlin and King Arthur as well as into other moments of Earth’s wars and conflicts. In this movie, humans and Transformers are basically at war with each other. Humans actively hunt and destroying any Transformer. Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is an outlaw in those regards, befriending the Autobots and fighting to keep them alive. He comes across an ancient Transformer and is given a medallion, which is also some sort of Transformer, and attaches itself to his body. The medallion means that he has been chosen as a knight, worthy of finding Merlin’s staff, which is actually an ancient Transformer weapon. He ends up in England at the request of Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) who introduces him to Dr. Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) and explains the secret history of the Transformers on Earth. While this is going on, Optimus Prime has made it back to the Transformer home world, Cybertron to find it nearly destroyed. Optimus’ creator Quintessa offers him the chance to save and restore his planet but in in order to do it, he must recover the same staff that Mark Wahlberg is after and unleash the weapon which will leave Earth lifeless.
Where to start with Trans5mers? Yes, Trans5mers. I got it from the internet. Back to my question, where should I start?
Do I start by saying the Michael Bay is really good at directing action movies but not so good at telling interesting stories or developing characters? There is no doubt that when it comes to blowing stuff up, destroying a city, and shooting from low-angles with lots of movement that he is the best there is. On the flip side of that, every character he puts on film is pretty generic. They could be played by anyone and in Transformers, he has a formula for his core group of characters. The main hero (male), the hot girl who knows stuff that only guys (at least stereotypically) are supposed know, the hot girl who also happens to be the smartest person on the planet, the military man who gets stuff done, and the comic relief guy. All generic. Side note: the role of “the hot girl who knows stuff that only guys (at least stereotypically) are supposed know” is a 14-year old girl in Trans5mers. I’m not calling a 14-year old girl “hot”. I’m saying that’s the role she has in this movie.
How about that Trans5mers is better than Trans4mers but it still pretty bad? Let’s be honest, Age of Extinction was a pretty confusing, senseless movie. The Last Knight at least stays in its’ lane and everything fits within the overall plan of the movie.
Do I rant about how we (the film going audience) keeps allowing the movies in the Transformers franchise to gross hundreds of millions of dollars but don’t demand better movies? Movie studios equate box office results with audience approval and that equation is inverse to critical praise.
- Low Cinemascore + Low Critic Praise + High Box Office Returns = SUCCESS! Let’s make 5 more! Maybe reboot the franchise or bring in a new writing team.
- High Cinemascore + Low Critic Praise + High Box Office Returns = SUCCESS! Let’s make 5 more! Also, we make these films for fans, not critics who no one listens to because they are out of touch with the audience and we no longer need to screen films for them.
- Low Cinemascore + Low critic praise + Low Box Office Returns = Critics ruined this movie!
- *Cinemascore is a survey of audiences that measure the movie-going experience and assigns a letter-grade to that experience.
How about wondering why there’s so much cussing and sexual innuendo in an action movie that’s obviously geared towards families? Trans5mers is rated PG-13 so it’s not exactly a “family-friendly” film but do the good guys need to say the world “bi***” so often? Does every character have to be sexualized in some way? The “hot girl” 14-year old rescues a group of boys early in the film and one of them immediately begins throwing pickup lines at her.
Why does Michael Bay have to ruin what could be a nice moment with jokes? So many jokes in places they don’t belong and feel forced. Did the mood of the Transformers movie get too dark and serious for a minute? Let us have some moments to relax a bit and then the next explosion or witty one-liner will be welcomed.
Here is my bottom line: Transformers: The Last Knight will give you exactly what you should expect from the fifth installment of the franchise. If you’re looking for a compelling story with complex characters then you are not going to get it here but it you want explosions and loud noises you’ve come to the right place.
THIS IS THE PART WHERE I TALK BRIEFLY ABOUT SPOILERS!
I need to talk about Unicron for a second. In the Transformers of my childhood, Unicron was a villain who had the form of a planet that consumed other planets to sustain itself. Guess what Unicron is in Trans5mers. It’s Earth and the villain, Quintessa, in The Last Knight’s plan is to take Cybertron to Earth and use Merlin’s staff to drain all the energy from Unicron aka Earth to restore Cybertron. Apparently they’ve been at war for centuries but Unicron has been hiding out as Earth all this time. In the 1986, animated movie, Unicron resurrected Megatron as Galvatron. That’s what they did in Age of Extinction, except it was humans that did it, but wait, Megatron is in this movie and there’s no mention of Galvatron. There was also an Autobot named Hot Rod, who used the Matrix of Leadership (remember that from Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon) to destroy Unicron and became Rodimus Prime, the new leader of the Autobots. Nothing is sacred in this franchise, so Hot Rod was a side character.
Also, new in theaters this week: Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, Naomi Watts, Sarah Silverman, Maddie Ziegler, and Dean Norris star in The Book of Henry. Sometimes things are not always what they seem, especially in the small suburban town where the Carpenter family lives. Single suburban mother Susan Carpenter works as a waitress at a diner, alongside feisty family friend Sheila. Her younger son Peter is a playful 8-year-old. Taking care of everyone and everything in his own unique way is Susan's older son Henry, age 11. Protector to his adoring younger brother and tireless supporter of his often self-doubting mother. Susan discovers that the family next door, which includes Henry's kind classmate Christina, has a dangerous secret - and that Henry has devised a surprising plan to help. As his brainstormed rescue plan for Christina takes shape in thrilling ways, Susan finds herself at the center of it.
New this week on DVD & Blu-Ray:
Morseille Trilogy – Marius, Fanny, Cesar (Criterion Collection)
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
Joe Versus the Volcano
8 Million Ways to Die
New to Netflix:
The Stanford Prison Experiment
New to Amazon Prime:
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Haxan (Haxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages) (The Witches)
Star Trek Beyond
New to FandangoNow:
The Joy Luck Club
Down and Out in Beverly Hills
Kong: Skull Island
The Zookeeper’s Wife
Smurfs: The Lost Village
New to Hulu:
2 Days in Paris