Convoluted story? Check. Weak acting? Check. Forgettable characters? Check. Humans given more important roles than the Autobots? Check.
Yep, this is a typical Michael Bay “Transformers” movie, just like the others, and that’s not a good thing.
The fifth installment, dubbed “The Last Knight,” picks up apparently a few years after the events of part four. Texas inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is now living with the remaining Autobots (the good robots) and spends his time hiding them from the government.
Because of four movies filled with alien robots coming from space and wrecking things, Earth has turned against all robots, good and bad, and now seek to get rid of them. Humans need to turn to the robots for help again, though, when they find out that there’s a secret doomsday device that’s been hidden inside Earth this whole time, there’s a staff of power that the Transformers gave to Merlin to activate it that all the robots are after and there’s an all-powerful robot god that made the valiant Optimus Prime turn bad.
Yes, that’s a lot to take in and no, the movie doesn’t plot it all out well. First of all, the movie screws up its own lore with a whole background of King Arthur and Merlin learning about the Transformers and forming a secret society that’s been around ever since then to monitor their activities. Of course, the first question is why wasn’t this all brought up in the original movie from 2007. The answer is probably that Bay and his crew probably just pulled it out of thin air making this movie, rather than have it be part of the long term story.
See, the problem with this revolves around the concept of internal consistency. Think of some major franchises out there, “Star Wars” is an example and the Marvel Cinematic Universe is another. These movies have internal consistency, things happen in one movie, and then in the next movie those things are acknowledged and built upon.
That’s never been the case in Transformers as things change on a whim and new histories are learned without them being correlated to the others. As a result, it feels like nothing is being built up with these movies and every film in the series just comes across as a one off. Subsequently, this means that there’s no arc, there’s no grand finale, it’s just the same thing being recycled with some minor tweaks.
And all of that is on top of the fact that the movie is completely messy and all over the place. The story has so much stuff crammed into it, from Cade becoming a mentor to a young girl he meets to him teaming with an Oxford professor and at the same time Optimus Prime being evil suddenly. Yet at the same time, the story is also ridiculously simple, as it all boils down to find a miracle item (in this case the staff) to save the day. Now, that sort of thing isn’t terrible, except this movie was two and a half hours.
The film’s finale is especially a train wreck. Besides a single neat fight sequence, the whole climax is just throwing as much metallic stuff at the screen as possible. It’s hard to tell where things are and what’s going on.
When it comes to the characters, the lead protagonist doesn’t do it for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like Wahlberg, but I have always felt he was miscast as this inventor character. Even worse than being miscast, though, is that Wahlberg’s character has a stupid, clichéd ‘he’s the chosen one’ arc.
It brings me back to the whole argument that this series should focus more of its time and effort on the robot characters rather than the humans. They’re never made into more than caricatures and it makes everything they do inconsequential.
Oh, speaking of the robots, Optimus Prime is hardly ever in the movie at all. The movie builds his whole role up and he’s on screen for about 10 minutes.
The rest of the characters don’t do much either. Josh Duhamel is just there to play a standard soldier character, Laura Haddock is completely forgettable as the love interest and has no chemistry with Wahlberg and Jerrod Carmichael does lame comic relief junk.
Another character featured here was Izabella (Isabela Moner), who was the girl good with mechanics who Wahlberg was somewhat mentoring. The actress did fine in the role but she didn’t really serve much of an overall purpose in the picture. Wahlberg’s character still has a living daughter in this movie so this whole angle was kind of pointless.
I can’t think of a reason to recommend “The Last Knight.” Is there some exciting action? Sure, but there have been plenty of other movies this year that featured good action but also featured fantastic characters you care about in a story that’s meaningful (like Wonder Woman or Guardians of the Galaxy 2) or characters that have great camaraderie and just have a lot of fun (the latest Fast and Furious).
Maybe if this was a shorter film, I could say 2 out of 5, I could say see it for the visuals and escapism. But this is two and a half hours long. 1 out of 5.