Is ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ The End of Bayformers?
Back in 2007, the first live-action Transformers actually worked. As Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End began to derail lucrative franchises, the Michael Bay production satisfied the needs of a fun, summer blockbuster. Let’s fast forward four installments later, shall we? Since then, we’ve endured bloated run times, inane sexual innuendos and more booms than we could expect from a Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza.
Would things be different in the series’ fifth installment, Transformers: The Last Knight? At this point in the game, the signature Michael Bay-isms are nothing short of a running gag that’s been going on for practically a decade. If live-action Transformers lore wasn’t already boggled down in a trash fire, The Last Knight adds yet another piece to the puzzle. It turns out that Cybertronian knights assisted King Arthur and Merlin in Middle Ages. And somehow those events are critical to apocalyptic assault in present day as the robot homeworld is out to devour Earth.
A key player in the events of Transformers: Age of Extinction, Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager find himself deep in the battle between Autobots and Decepticons once more. Things have changed immensely since the last film. Autobot leader Optimus Prime has left Earth in search for his creators. Meanwhile, the rest of the robots are considered fugitives from the government. Cade teams up with franchise veteran Bumblebee as well as Age of Extinction returnees Hound (voiced by John Goodman) and Drift (voiced by Ken Watanabe). Add in Izabella (Isabela Moner), a street-smart tomboy from Chicago as well as Anthony Hopkins and Laura Haddock as British historians.
As the series progressed, the films continued to increase longer and longer. Age of Extinction clocked in at a dreadful 165 minutes. Shockingly enough, The Last Knight finds itself under 150 minutes, yet feels like we’re watching a train wreck well over three hours. Bay would rather go big than go home as usual. That shouldn’t however translate into a muddled mess. The words streamlined and coherent are clearly foreign here in The Last Knight.
SEE ALSO: Review: Bay’s Transformers Series Facing Age of Extinction
Like the other sequels, Bay throws so much junk on the screen that we’re left questioning which storylines we should be invested in. Earth is on the verge of getting destroyed….again, but we know how this plays out. It’s one action sequence slammed up against another action sequence against an hour-long finale when the screen is polluted with explosions and incoherent storytelling. Bay does attempt to build a bond between Cade and Izabella, basically tagging along in the daughter role. But that’s forgotten about halfway when she’s swapped out for a wannabe hip Hopkins and love interest Haddock. At one point, Hopkins even refers to Wahlberg as “dude” and boy is it cringeworthy.
There’s a subplot where our beloved Optimus Prime goes bad when ensnared by a Cybertronian goddess. But when the blue and red tractor trailer gets left on the shelf for half the film (much like Revenge of the Fallen), the conflict is nothing shy of an afterthought. Prime’s last line in Age of Extinction, “Leave planet Earth alone. Because I’m coming for you” is watered down upon arrival. The showdown between a brainwashed Prime and Bumblebee is a slight spark of entertainment value.
At least the Dino-bots return for a second round, well at least two of them. On a side note, we do know Grimlock by name unlike in the last Transformers film. But there’s also cute and cuddly Dino-bots too, treated like little pets nonetheless. Izabella has a little robotic buddy that scurries around like BB-8 from Star Wars. Keep pumping out those toys. But all in all, it’s just clutter. One of the issues with the earlier Transformers films is how it focused more on the irritating humans than the robots. Even with more Transformers than any other film previous, the end result is simply cumbersome. There’s even a moment when Megatron introduces his Decepticon brethren very similar to Suicide Squad. That’s more disposable products in an already congested sequel.
And while Bay said this is final Transformers film (we’ve heard that before), The Last Knight teases a sixth installment. Like Pirates of the Caribbean a few weeks earlier, these franchises used to be must-see event films in theaters. Things were so much simpler a decade ago when it was just a boy and his car.
While much remains the same in the Bayformers universe, Transformers: The Last Knight is an abysmally new low for the franchise. It’s baffling that this could be even worse than the cinematically offensive Revenge of the Fallen. Somehow Bay has pulled off the impossible.