People often complain that the big Hollywood movies have no story. If nothing else the Transformers movies have attempted to do something about that. Rather than having no story, they have all the stories, non-stop, simultaneously and accompanied by never-ending explosions. It’s never mattered whether it made any sense or if it’s managed to contradict itself in the same sentence, as long as something is going on that appears to be a plotline.
That continues with The Last Knight, which is moderately more coherent than Dark Of The Moon, and slightly less pointless than Age Of Extinction – and yes, that is damning it with faint praise, but it does mean those who’ve liked what’s gone before, will probably enjoy this one.
In The Last Knight, the human population of earth has essentially banned all Transformers from the planet. They keep coming though! However, it turns out humanity may need the Autobots when it’s discovered an all-powerful staff is hidden on earth, which could be used to help restore Cybertron – at the expense of our planet, of course.
The only hope to prevent the destruction of earth is Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager, a British professor called Vivian (Laura Haddock), Anthony Hopkins and the Autobots. Add in a Transformers goddess, Bumblebee fighting the Nazis, Optimus Prime turning evil, the return of Josh Duhamel and John Turturro, a secret history that stretches back to Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and you’ve certainly got plenty going on.
The movie tries to broaden out the mythology, but it quickly becomes difficult to follow the intricacies. Anthony Hopkins is drafted in to help with the never-ending exposition, but while he does his best, he can’t help that it’s a film – like its predecessors – that’s trying to do too much too quickly, and so the story quickly becomes an overblown blur amidst a non-stop parade of special effects and explosions. The effects are impressive and it does at least ensure you know what’s supposed to be important at any given moment (which is better than some of the earlier films did).
It almost seems churlish to review the movie, as by now you’re gonna know if you like Transformers films or not. This is yet more of what has gone before, so if you liked – or at least tolerated – the earlier instalments, you’ll probably enjoy this one too. I have to say, overall I didn’t think it was too bad. I still have no idea exactly what happened, and/or why Mark Wahlberg is The Last Knight (other than so there’s an excuse to have him in the movie), but it was still quite fun. It’s kind of like a baby’s toy but for grown-ups – there’s lots of bright lights and colours to hold your attention.
It also seems Michael Bay might have finally listened to critics of how he treats women. While this is still a film largely about men (and male robots), the main female character is a professor who’s actually treated with some respect. The likes of Megan Fox, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Nicola Peltz in earlier movies were treated as irrelevant eye candy, with the way Bay filmed them often feeling uncomfortably lecherous and objectifying. Thankfully there’s more respect shown to Laura Haddock’s Vivian, who may not win any awards for most well-rounded female character of 2017, but is streets ahead of the women in earlier Transformers movies. If nothing else, she’s actually vital to the plot.
If you buy the film on disc, there’s a pretty good bonus disc, full of interesting special features. A lot of the featurettes are really good, giving an intriguing insight into the logistics of mounting a movie on this scale – and how some of the things you might have assumed were CGI effects, were actually done on set.
Overall Verdict: It’s too late to be expecting a Transformers masterpiece, but The Last Knight is a step up from Age Of Extinction. Unfortunately it’s still overblown and confusing – the action is good though.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac