Kernel Rating (out of 5): 0 (0 out of 5)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 149 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 12+. The latest “Transformers” film is more of the same: violent clashes between the warring groups of robots that kill them and humans alike, including people being shot, set on fire, and exploded; although there is little gore, there is massive international destruction. As is usual with Michael Bay films, there is a certain amount of female ogling and women in revealing outfits, and sexually themed, rude, and racist humor. Adults drink to excess in a few scenes.
‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ is the pinnacle of summer blockbuster stupidity. The only thing that could top it is another ‘Transformers’ sequel in the future, which is a nightmare too dreadful to imagine.
By Roxana Hadadi
“Why is this happening?” is what will run through your mind through the entire tortuous runtime of “Transformers 5: The Last Knight.” The franchise that gets worse with each installment reaches absolute rock bottom with “The Last Knight,” which manages to be both shockingly stupid and overwhelmingly boring at the same time.
Set after the events of 2014’s “Age of Extinction,” “The Last Knight” picks up with good-guy Autobot leader Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) on his way back to his home planet, Cybertron, to defend Earth. Meanwhile, on this planet, the battle between the good-guy Autobots and the bad-guy Decepticons continues, with Transformers essentially banned by international governments. They are forced to live in secret while Decepticon leader, Megatron (voiced by Frank Welker), is held captive by the international Transformer Reaction Force, and entire areas of the United States are off-limits because of Transformers destruction.
Nevertheless, there is still pro-Transformers human resistance, including Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg, of “Daddy’s Home”), the hero from “Age of Extinction,” now living off the grid in South Dakota. (Most of the other characters from that film are curiously absent, even Cade’s own daughter, in one of many, many plot holes.) When saving an Autobot during an attack, Cade ends up with a metallic talisman that draws the attention of the Decepticons, who are released from TRF custody to track him down. Because of course international governments working together can’t be trusted not to double-cross the common blue-collar worker of America!
Barely escaping from Megatron’s minions, Cade ends up in the company of Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins, of “Noah”), who explains to him that for thousands of years, humans and Transformers have actually lived side by side, with the latter providing the former with all kinds of technology and support. It is up to humans to defend the Transformers both from meddling humans and from the evil Decepticons, but little do they know that another villain will soon arrive in the form of Optimus Prime, brainwashed into destroying Earth. Against that type of power, do Cade, Burton, or any of the other humans stand a chance?
So many things wrong with “The Last Knight” are flaws of filmmaker Michael Bay as a whole, and they’re all familiar issues in this franchise: that female characters are totally pushed aside, including the latest, a PhD-holder whose skimpy outfits are given more attention than her supposed knowledge of the Transformers; that uber-hero Cade, who is more capable and more rugged than anyone else, including any government figures, scientists, or soldiers, also has to be a vaguely sexist and racist jerk whose bad personality gets a pass because of how masculine he is; that the Transformers are really quite hideously overdesigned and that the action sequences are jarringly impossible to watch. Somehow, Merlin’s staff and the sword Excalibur are integral plot components of this film, and if that didn’t even work for failed summer blockbuster “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” why would that be successful here, in a movie that has nothing to do with Arthurian mythology? (It is not.)
And none of that even touches on the shockingly, irritatingly stupid subplot in which it is shown that the Transformers, during their years of alliances with humans, have been aligned with historical figures like the previously mentioned King Arthur, along Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Franklin D. Roosevelt—there are literally pictures of these giant alien space robots with these people. And if that’s the case, then why didn’t the Transformers stop slavery? Why didn’t they intercede before World War II? Could they get involved with the conflict in Syria? It is just so jaw-droppingly idiotic to position the Transformers in this way that even a somewhat cool intro sequence with Transformers morphing into a giant dragon to save Merlin is still inexcusable.
There is more to complain about, but writing even this was a slog. Of course, “The Last Knight” leaves the narrative open for another sequel, but also of course, any creativity or joy in this franchise disappeared a long time ago.
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