‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ struggles to bring franchise home (review)

Transformers: The Last Knight
I grew up loving the world I lived in. It was a world where my wildest imaginations could be fulfilled and the toys and comics I had could – and would – be later turned into shows and films to my delight! My childhood would be a time where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics would later become a cartoon and an incredible movie trilogy. It was a time when hit movies such as Ghostbusters and Beetlejuice would become fantastic cartoons. But one of the best things to have ever come out of my childhood that still has the same effect on me when I watch it today has got to be 1986’s The Transformers: The Movie. From the music to the events, my heart feels young again seeing all the great things again in that film. You would hope, as a kid fan, that this franchise never loses that feeling. Boy has the times changed with Transformers: The Last Knight.

“For my world to live, yours must die…”

This week marks the release of the fifth installment of the Transformers saga began by director Michael “Boom Boom” Bay: Transformers: The Last Knight. The film chronicles a time where humans are at war with the Transformers, and Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving the future lies buried in the secrets of the past and the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. Now, it’s up to the unlikely alliance of Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), Bumblebee, an English Lord (Anthony Hopkins) and an Oxford professor (Laura Haddock) to save the world.

Transformers: The Last Knight Distorts the Source Material

I’m all for having fun with a franchise and creating a storyline that showcases more of an homage rather than a direct adaptation, but this film not only deviates from previous source materials, it distorts it. Bringing back previous characters from the franchise portrayed by Mark Wahlberg and Josh Duhamel, Michael Bay returns the franchise to the silver screen with the fifth entry in the series.

Bay tries to create a much deeper origin for the Robots in Disguise by incorporating medieval lore mixed with a bit of World War II roots to the origin of the Transformers’ presence here on Earth. Unfortunately, this attempt muddies the waters for what could’ve been a strong introduction for when the robots actually first arrived at the planet. Did they come when Cybertron was first destroyed, or long before? If long before, why? The new information only added confusion to what should’ve shed more light to an origin.

The Film Struggles To Keep Focused on Story

Another issue that came about with the film was its lack of a coherence. The film, sitting at two and half hours, struggles to keep a focused story. It veers from focusing on an Isabela Moner’s story arc to Wahlberg’s character arc, to Duhamel’s character arc, to Laura Haddock’s arc. The film tries to have you, as the audience, see how everyone’s important, yet only gets ankle deep in the character’s backstory.

Aside from Cade Yeager (due to him being in the last film), you don’t really have much else to go on with the other characters except for surface information. From the film, all I’ve gathered from each of these characters was this: Izabella (Moner) lost her parents in the battle in Chicago, Colonel William Lennox (Duhamel) was in previous films and is working undercover, and Vivian (Haddock) is a descendant from Merlin. That’s all. For 2 1/2 hours, I’d expect to have a deeper understanding of the characters than just what is told to me in the first 40 minutes.

Unicron Spoiler

I have a lot of little issues with the film, from having unimportant characters pop up in the film for 5 minutes, and then never seeing them again, to the distortion of the source material. Remember the Transformers film I mentioned earlier? That’s the source material for this film, sort of. In the animated film, it introduces a planet-sized robot, with power beyond comprehension, called Unicron. This was one of the greatest villains in animated history. In this film, Earth is called Unicron. That’s right, this planet is given this villainous title. The place that all these Autobots called home is the sworn enemy of Cybertron. This distorts what that original film created, and completely ruins what could’ve ultimately been the greatest homage to that original film.

Transformers: The Last Knight isn’t all bad, however. The use of IMAX filming creates some incredible battle sequences throughout the film. Watching the film at my local IMAX was such an experience, as every use of the type of filming made for outstanding eye candy. Another plus for the film was seeing Isabela Moner shine on screen. The young Peruvian actress had been in a few smaller films, but seeing her and the amount of emotionality and personality she brought really made a fan out of me as a moviegoer. I’m sure that with her performance in this film, despite the short amount of screen time, Moner’s bound to go places.

Final Reaction

Transformers: The Last Knight, slated to be the last one from Bay, himself, falls incredibly short of what I was hoping for. As a longtime fan of the overall franchise, and what this property means to my childhood, I’m saddened by what I saw. Not because of what was presented, but of what it could’ve been. I have no doubt that the film could’ve easily become the great homage to a film that has long since been forgotten until its anniversary as of late.

Unfortunately, that isn’t what we get. What we have is a barrage of explosions, dust clouds, pan shots with a lens flare, insufficient and recycled story arcs, a tale that falls short of every expectation I had going into the film. Here’s to hoping that whatever the future holds for the Transformers franchise, I pray that it takes a hard left from where it’s at, and right into the hands of someone willing to do it justice.

Transformers: The Last Knight Rating – 1.5/5 Atoms

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