‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ film review
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
“The average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.” These are the wise words of Anton Ego at the end of Ratatouille, and I hold them to be true. But, fortunately for us critics, Transformers: The Last Knight is not your average piece of junk. It’s exceptionally terrible—and not in a good way.
The film carries on with Michael Bay’s Transformers tradition of being unnecessarily mean-spirited, poorly-edited, and creepily glorifying of the American military, and it has the classic Bayformers overwrought drama, endless dialogue that doesn’t lead anywhere, a prestigious actor dedicated entirely to exposition, and incredibly bad character design for the robots. It does innovate, however, by adding a new terrible addition to the franchise: Recurring actors playing completely different characters. John Turturro returns to play his eccentric FBI/conspiracy theorist character, but also plays a drunk Merlin. The connection is never mentioned and it has no significance on the plot.
And yes, Merlin is in this, along with King Arthur and the 12 Knights of the Round Table. They make friends with 12 Transformers, conveniently already in their own knightly order. So the Transformers help the Britons beat back an invasion by transforming into a three-headed dragon to defeat some conveniently unnamed enemy. And then everyone forgot about the direct alien intervention in a historical conflict and King Arthur passed into legend. Later, it’s revealed that Bumblebee and other Autobots were active in World War II and helped conquer Berlin. This is despite the fact that Bumblebee arrived on Earth 30 seconds into the first movie. Transformers: The Last Knight successfully killed the last shreds of continuity left in the franchise.
The plot completely flies in the face of the other movies and the dialogue is terrible. “But at least it’s fun, right? It’s a movie about robots with guns for hands who turn into cars! How could that be boring?” Well, Michael Bay somehow manages. It’s a real slog to get through. Everyone in the movie seems to hate being there, and something like that always transfers over to the audience.
This movie is just so flawed, in so, so many ways. All of the characters are hyper-aggressive, nasty, and petty, even old fatherly Optimus Prime. Peter Cullen tries his best, but the editing and script makes Optimus into a murdering psychopath devoid of leadership ability or morals. The acting from the humans is unbelievably boring and overblown, and Anthony Hopkins is completely wasted as a Stereotypical English Aristocrat.
There are perhaps just two redeeming features in this godawful mess. The first is a robot butler named Cogman, and his design is so cool—lots of Elizabethan gold and silver with a sort of clockwork feel. His dialogue is obviously trash, but his CGI and movements are very realistic and he turns out to be a likeable guy. He’s the best new addition to the franchise. The second redeeming feature is that Shia LaBeouf’s character is mysteriously killed off-screen between movies and it’s never mentioned, only passive-aggressively alluded to, so at least one problem with the series was fixed in this mess.