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Movie Review: Transformers: The Last Knight
22 June 2017 7:30 AM, PDT
I’ll get this out of the way now: Transformers: The Last Knight is by far the worst movie of the year, and quite possibly, of the last few years. It’s headache inducing, overlong, incomprehensible, and offensive. I would say that this movie was edited for children who couldn’t keep their attention span focused for more than five seconds, but based on some of the film’s “humor” and language, I wouldn’t recommend any kid seeing this movie. Director Michael Bay has outdone himself here, and this is after I honestly thought the Transformers series could not get any worse after the dreadful Age of Extinction. The new film may be called The Last Knight, but it should also be Bay’s last movie.
I should also mention that I am not a Transformers hater. The first installment came out when I was in the seventh grade and it instantly became one of my favorite movies. Over the years, I have come to accept that it is not a perfect movie, but it is still fun and holds up remarkably well. I was crushed by how awful the second installment, Revenge of the Fallen, was and had given up on the series. The Dark of the Moon was a slight improvement, and you already know my feelings on the fourth film. So, the first film came out at the right age for me and I still love to watch it, but later installments have left me questioning why I ever loved this series in the first place. The Last Knight has left me questioning how we’ve allowed Michael Bay to direct movies for this long.
The Last Knight features the Knights of the Round Table, an evil Optimus Prime, Stonehenge, a re-designed Megatron, an organization called the Trf, and Stanley Tucci as Merlin in a plot so ridiculously convoluted and complicated that makes it Game of Thrones seem as straightforward as a child’s bedtime story. Humans and Transformers are currently not on good terms as humans consider their once robotic allies dangerous, probably because they keep blowing up the planet. Transformers keep falling from the sky in droves and this makes humans wary of another attack. Optimus Prime, who was last seen floating off into space looking for the Creators at the end of Age of Extinction, returns home to Cybertron where he is seduced by Quintessa to help bring an end to the “human race.” There’s a MacGuffin (like there always is in a summer blockbuster) that both humans and robots want that leads to a third-act showdown. There was a lot of chatter the past couple of weeks about The Last Knight’s rumored runtime of 182 minutes long. While that is untrue (the real runtime is 149 minutes) the movie feels like it is well over three hours long. There’s too much going on, featuring too many characters, and too many subplots. I didn’t even mention Sir Anthony Hopkin’s storyline or the main female protagonist’s arc, mainly because it is too convoluted to matter and everything just ends up being blown up so why should anyone care?
This should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen his movies, but director Michael Bay wastes no screen time to develop his stories and even less to develop characters. Bay and his editors think that any shot that doesn’t involve a car transforming into a robot or some other shot with action will bore the audience, which shows their lack of faith in their story and characters. Bay is compelled to bombard the audience with kinetic shots because he knows if the movie stops long enough for people to think about it, it won’t make any sense. This makes for an exhausting experience that is equivalent to being repeatedly bludgeoned on the head with a boombox. It’s nonstop, loud, and makes for a miserable experience. Oh, and the aspect ratio adds to the misery. Someone should explain to Bay what an aspect ratio is.
It’s easy to put most of the blame on Bay, but some needs to get passed onto the film’s writers as well. There’s three credited screenwriters and you can tell that this is a story that was developed by a group rather than a single person. There’s a real difference between movies like this and something like, say, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. That movie was written (and directed) by James Gunn and his unique humor and style are all over that movie. There is no such sense of style or artisanship present anywhere in The Last Knight, which is fine, if it were just entertaining and not offensive. Bay has gotten in trouble in the past over racist and sometimes sexist humor in his movies, but he seemingly doesn’t care. There is literally a scene where a group of women, including her mother, beg Laura Haddock’s character to stop being so smart and just find a guy to date. They refer to her work as unimportant and the only value she will have in life will be determined by who she marries. It’s embarrassing that this movie will be shown on the same screens as Wonder Woman was a couple weeks ago. That movie featured powerful women who were independent and can serve as role models for young girls. In The Last Knight, Bay has a women telling a young woman that her only worth is in finding a man to marry and she should abandon her life’s work. Just imagine Diana Prince putting up with that.
Notice that throughout my bashing of this film, I have not come close to mentioning Mark Wahlberg’s portrayal of Cade Yeager. I am a moderate fan of Wahlberg and enjoy him in comedies like Ted or The Other Guys, but he was terribly miscast in Age of Extinction. He played a failed inventor on a farm, and while there is less farm time in The Last Knight, Wahlberg is just as awful here. It’s hard to blame him because the rest of the acting in the movie is similarly terrible. When Hopkins, who won an Oscar for less than 20 minutes of screen time in Silence of the Lambs, is yelling out profanities and looking at robots like a 12-year-old child, you know it is because of poor filmmaking. Bay has no idea how to convey this ridiculous story, humor, or possibly even worse, his action. The actors are just screaming over the film’s obnoxious volume and none of them ever present any real sense of danger. With all the ridiculousness going around the characters, you would think that Bay would like to add some suspense by putting someone in actual danger. Nope. Instead, we get sweeping shots of Autobots and Decepticons throwing bombs and ammunition at each other. There’s not much any actor can do with that.
It’s become easy to bash the Transformers series at this point, because Paramount could care less what kind of product the series produces. All they see is that Age of Extinction made over a billion dollars worldwide and the global audience wants more of the same. There is no need to invest in writers who develop an interesting story, editors who string together shots that make sense, actors who do more than scream, or more importantly, a director with a more interesting vision. The Last Knight is being confusingly marketed as the last chapter in the Transformers series, which we know is not true because studios love money. This is not only Bay’s last movie (supposedly), but Wahlberg also said he won’t be returning, which is probably the best decision of his career. In the end, Transformers: The Last Knight is the worst kind of summer blockbuster experience, and after Age of Extinction, I was looking for a reason to be back on board Team Bay, but I don’t see myself ever being a Bay fan again. »
- Scott Davis
The Preview Reel: Transformers: The Last Knight
22 June 2017 6:27 AM, PDT
Welcome to this week’s “Preview Reel” column, where we look at the week’s upcoming movie releases. Cars 3 zoomed to the top spot this past weekend with a decent $53 million showing, but there’s a new beast debuting this weekend that should easily take over the top spot. Studios fled at the sight of the latest Transformers movie as The Last Knight is the only wide release debuting this weekend. Will this fifth installment of the Transformers franchise be a return to form for the series or will it continue to give audiences headaches, let’s break it down to find out.
What we are excited about: The first Transformers film was a lot of fun. It certainly isn’t a perfect movie, nor even a great summer blockbuster, but that movie nailed the summer adventure tone it was going for. We’ve been saying this for about a decade now, but if a Transformers sequel can match that first movie’s sensibility without being so dour or self-serious, we could have a good blockbuster on our hands. Mark Wahlberg is a fine action star, and while he was terrible in the franchise’s last installment, Age of Extinction, his track record proves he can handle blockbusters. A Mark Wahlberg-led Transformers movie shouldn’t be that hard to make fun, but as proven with Age of Extinction, it might be for Michael Bay.
What we are worried about: Outside of the first Transformers, let’s be honest, this series has been garbage. Even if you want to give a mild pass at the third installment, Dark of the Moon, there is no argument that Revenge of the Fallen and Age of Extinction are two of the worst summer blockbusters of the last decade (if not longer). Michael Bay seems to have lost touch with what made that first movie so memorable—it’s sense of fun and adventure. The plots of subsequent movies are too convoluted and downright confusing for a story that ultimately boils down to good robots trying to save the world from bad robots. The series is at its worst when it decides to focus on loud explosions and CGI battles over characters and story. The first installment did a good job of balancing fun characters with an interesting adventure and cool action. Michael Bay seems to be the problem with this franchise, and luckily this is supposedly his last time in the director’s chair, which might get us excited for a Transformers movie again.
The Buzz: The Transformer series used to be a must-see summer moviegoing experience five to seven years ago, but audiences have been let down time and time again, so now they’ve become shrugs. Internationally, the series is as popular is ever, so don’t worry about not seeing Transformers movies in the future. We will, including a Bumblebee spin-off starring Hailee Steinfeld?! As for this one, it is, predictably, getting panned by critics as it sits at just 16% on RottenTomatoes and 30 on MetaCritic. Despite the negative reaction, look for a five-day opening of around $90 million.
Final Thoughts: The Transformers series is one for four so far in making quality blockbusters, and without a change in directors, it’s hard to see the franchise reversing that trend with its fifth installment. »
- Scott Davis
Box Office Weekend: Pixar’s Cars 3 Takes Top Spot from Wonder Woman
19 June 2017 10:14 AM, PDT
Pixar/Disney rode their newest offering, Cars 3, to the top of the box office this week with $53.5 million, pushing the juggernaut Wonder Woman to second place. Despite the drop to the number two spot, Wonder Woman still brought in an impressive $40.8 million to brings its three-week total to an impressive $274.6 million.
The new Tupac biopic, All Eyez on Me, came in third place with $27.1 million. From there, things get a little more pedestrian with The Mummy adding $13.9 million to bring its two-week total to $56. 5 million. The shark-infested thriller 47 Meters Down debuted to $11.5 million which was just a shade above the studio’s $10 million expectations. Sixth place belongs firmly to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which added $8.5 million to its $150.1 million domestic total.
- Mike Tyrkus
Win Passes to See The Beguiled
18 June 2017 9:01 PM, PDT
For your chance to receive a pair of complimentary passes to see the new film The Beguiled at the Landmark Main Art Theater in Royal Oak, Michigan on Monday, June 26th at 7:00Pm, just look for the “Enter the Contest” box further down on this page. But hurry because there are a limited number of passes available and when they’re gone, they’re gone!
About The Film
The Beguiled: Adapted by acclaimed writer/director Sofia Coppola from Thomas Cullinan’s novel of the same name. The story unfolds in Virginia at a girls’ school during the Civil War where the young women have been sheltered from the outside world. When a wounded Union soldier is discovered and taken in, »