The fifth installment to the Transformers franchise is finally here and being the Optimistic Prime that I am, I’ve actually looked forward to it. With the constant teasing and trailers, I asked myself – is this the one? Is this finally the film in which the franchise is redeemed? Would there finally be a plot that would keep me engaged?
In short, no.
A lot has happened in the Transformers franchise. Every installment has seen the threat of humanity’s end. Every installment has ended with peace and tranquility. Michael Bay’s by-the-children’s-colouring-book generic plots are the same. Big baddie (Decepticon, then Decepticon ++) shows up. Autobots come to our help. Autobots question humans because humans are incapable of defending themselves and want to destroy both Decepticons and Autobots. White male protagonist pleads with Autobots and they save our asses. Good job, curtains roll, applause.
For Transformers: The Last Knight, this clichéd plot takes on a new spin. In a desperate attempt to hopefully keep you intrigued, they’ve dragged in poor old King Arthur into the story – an idea derived from 1980’s Transformers animated series – and Merlin’s staff as the MacGuffin for this installment (every Transformers film has had an all-important device: Allspark, Matrix of Leadership, the Ark, the Seed). Secretly hidden on Earth, this staff can save the Transformers’ home planet of Cybertron.
Cybertron is dying (still, it seems) and is now headed towards our planet to consume our resources to save itself. There’s a new baddie (obviously) and the Decepticons naturally fall in line with him. Uh-huh. Optimus Prime and the Autobots are then tasked to save us again. Ya-da-ya-da.
One would think that the introduction of new human faces would save the film (looking at you Sir Anthony Hopkins) but alas, even that couldn’t be done right. New faces like Isabela Moner, Laura Haddock and Anthony Hopkins join mainstays Mark Wahlberg and Josh Duhamel to just add more mess to an already convoluted storyline. Moner’s character felt like a completely unnecessary addition to the story, probably included to appeal to younger audiences. What disappointed me the most was watching Anthony Hopkins – a well reputed and talented actor, execute his role of a poorly created character. There were a couple of instances in the movie where he was probably forced by the scriptwriters to portray a cringe-worthy, old man trying to be cool. (we kid you not; Hopkins utters the word “dude”)
The dialogues and exchanges that the characters have get mighty awkward. The first encounter of Cade and Haddock (Laura) which I suppose was intended to be funny came across as forced tension and then took a turn for sexist.
That being said, it goes to say that Bay does what Bay does best – the CGI in Transformers: The Last Knight doesn’t disappoint so if you’re the sort that can put up with a full two hours of what is essentially a plot line designed by a six-year-old boy playing with a mix of toys from Transformers to King Arthur, you’re in for a treat. It’s got all your slow motion robot fights, OTT explosions and a host of cars tumbling around.
Just a heads up – next year, a Bumblebee spin-off will be released. My fingers are crossed.