Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Transformers: The Last Knight: Falls Far Short of the Franchise

Movie Review: Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
Version: Library borrow

Sorry to be a party pooper, but Transformers: The Last Knight is a mess of a movie. The fifth in the series of Transformers films misses on so many levels, despite a pretty good cast and some pretty good special effects.

Let's start off with the good aspects of the film. It brings back all the great characters we've come to love. Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager, for one. Optimus Prime and Bumblebee as the main Transformers, for others. Then Stanley Tucci makes a memorable cameo appearance early on as Merlin, which fills in some back story for the Transformers mythology. But then the film begins to fall apart.

It introduces two totally dispensable characters: Jimmy, who is the caretaker of the Transformers while Earth is at war with them and they are in hiding out in the desert, and Izabella, who is an orphaned 14 year old in the canyons of ruined Chicago whose only "family" is a barely surviving Transformer. Cade rescues her from attack by the TFN (Transformers Reaction Force), but when she wants tag along, and she still manages to follow him everywhere. And from then on, she serves no purpose other than, perhaps, to attract a younger audience to the film. I'm not sure why Jimmy is there once Cade and cadre escape an attack by the TFN.

And that brings me to the next failure of the film. It jumps from venue to venue in the blink of an eye, without establishing spacial relationships. You go from cityscapes to desert landscapes to cityscapes and on and on. In one setting, Cade and his group run away from the TFN, who appear to be right on their tail, to arrive miles ahead in an isolated small desert town.  They battle it out on the street, in a store, then suddenly in a large cathedral, then all of a sudden they're in a glass-faced skyscraper! When that gets blown to bits, they're suddenly back in the streets of the small town. Ohhhh-kay. Then a shiny British robot shows up to rescue them and take them to a waiting flying wing (propeller-driven) plane and they fly off across the ocean to England, with no intercept.

Here we meet Sir Edmund Burton, played by the amazing Anthony Hopkins, who isn't amazing at all in this film. He's a mantle piece, try though he might. And we meet Vivian Wembley, played by Laura Haddock, who is actually refreshing relief in this film. Burton and Wembley are important as the story evolves. They represent past and present in the Transformers universe and they are key to saving the Earth from destruction by Quintessa, the creator of Cybertron, the Transformers' home world.

A good part of this film is cgi generated, obviously, so a good part of the acting is by voice. But I can't give much credit to this part of the film for making it work. It's just typical animation work. It works off the script. The scale of the work is pretty amazing in parts, but other parts are disappointingly "normal" for this franchise. I can't get into too much detail without revealing spoilers.

To wrap up this review, there really were few redeeming qualities to this film. The story was bland. It lacked a back bone, it lacked an emotional impact, it lacked a professional quality. There were so many times I shook my head while watching it, shouted out, "What the hell is going on?" because I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Honestly, the producers fell far short of protecting this franchise.

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