Review “Transformers: The Last Knight”
True confession, I grew up on the Transformers cartoon from the eighties. I loved Bumblebee and Optimus Prime and all the Transformers. The live action movies have been hit or miss with me. Still, I jumped at the chance to see the newest movie because I do like elements of the previous four and I like the trailers that I’ve watched. It was full of action, had a good storyline and had plenty of my favorite Autobots, Bumblebee and Optimus bringing back many familiar characters from the previous movies.
The film begins with humanity at war with the Transformers, all of them and Optimus Prime lost in space seeking his makers. The Transformers Reaction Force is hunting down all transformers while Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) has teamed up with Bumblebee and the other Autobots, keeping them hidden. Josh Dushamel returns as William Lennox, now a colonel in the U.S. Military and undercover with the TRF forces.
Cade tangles with Lennox and the TRF when he rescues a young girl, Izabella (Isabela Moner) from coming to harm in an old cordoned off area. He gets her to safety and then tries to help a transformer who is dying. The transformer hands him a talisman. After he escapes the military, the talisman leads him to an astronomer named Sir Edmond Burton (Anthony Hopkins) and an Oxford University professor Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) to discover the secret to why the Transformers keep returning to Earth and prevent the destruction of humanity.
The plot incorporates elements of Arthurian mythology, weaving it together with the idea that the Transformers have been on Earth multiple times. It also weaves it together with Merlin and Merlin’s staff of power. One brilliant point in the movie was the use of Arthur C. Clarke’s maxim: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The movie touches on this with the use of the Transformer technology and their main adversary Quintessa (Gemma Chan), the maker of the Transformers. While there was a lot going on in the movie, this story element was engaging and I enjoyed the development of the Transformers world.
I also enjoyed the return of William Lennox as well as the return of the Autobots. While the last movie was focused on Optimus Prime, this movie gives us all of the Autobots working with Cade. It includes familiar Transformers from the cartoon such as Hot Rod that have been absent from the other movies. I especially loved the appearance of baby dinobots and one of the new characters, Cogman. One of the strengths of the original cartoon was the teamwork of the robots. This movie captured that feeling, with everyone working together at the end to save Earth.
As for the action sequences, it’s what you expect from Michael Bay, big explosions, car chases and lots of great fight scenes. I could live without seeing more slow motion effects but on the other hand, I really enjoyed the Time Bubble that Hot Rod uses in his fights. It was fast paced during the beginning of the film with lots of humorous bits throughout the movie. The physics of certain parts of the story don’t work but the 3-D elements were immersive and actually helped make the action sequences more exciting.
Despite the pacing at the beginning of the film, the end of the movie dragged. This film is 2 hours and 28 minutes long and I felt it. One of the issues is that there is a lot going on. The filmmakers are developing Vivian’s character as well as bringing in Izabel. Vivian plays a key role in the movie but Izabel felt extraneous at times, as though she is there just to introduce her for future films but there was no real depth. Her character could easily have been cut. There are also fight sequences at the beginning of the movie with King Arthur that while immersive, could have been cut to allow the movie to be more streamlined. It was fun and what fans would expect of a Transformers movie but predictable.
Overall, I was entertained. If you’re a fan of the Transformers, this will live up to your expectations. The plot was far better than most of the films giving audiences the development of the Transformer world. You get plenty of Optimus and his speeches. Bumblebee gets a chance to shine. Mark Wahlberg does a great job with his character and there are some funny bits between him and Laura Haddock as Vivian. While it could have been cut for time, if you’re willing to deal with the length of the movie, the plot will keep you engaged and there’s plenty of action, both human and Transformers.