Let me say this up front: I haven’t seen Transformers: The Last Knight. I don’t plan to see it. None of my colleagues have plans to watch it either. As to the why of that decision, here’s my take, offered up in the form of our traditional “Things Parents Should Know.”
1. What’s it about?
In this latest installment of the decade-old Transformers movie franchise, we find that, despite every assertion to the opposite in previous movies, Transformers have been involved with Earth since the dawn of time and are responsible for the majority of human history. Also, Optimus Prime gets brainwashed/has a crisis of morality and slices off even more faces…angrily.
2. That’s it?
No; there are also a lot of humans doing a lot of really, really stupid things that ultimately affect the plot in no appreciable way. Mostly they’re wandering around so that they can be placed in peril, like the walking props they are. Likely, one of them will be the key to whatever the MacGuffin is in this movie.
3. Will I like it?
4. Will my kids like it?
5. That seems pretty harsh when you haven’t seen the film. How could you have reached such a binary decision based on a few trailers?
I would love nothing more than to say that this Transformers film is different. In fact, when I heard that Michael Bay would (really) be handing over the reins for The Last Knight, I was hopeful. After all, a movie that dives deep into Transformers mythology and finally admits that “fine, the Transformers have always been on Earth” has all kinds of potential to be satisfyingly geeky and fun in a way that the old cartoons wantonly embraced (see “A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur’s Court“). But then Michael Bay decided (as he always does) that he likes money and decided to bring his patented brand of puerile humor and racist caricatures back to the big screen.
6. But the trailers make the movie look like fun!
Not a question, but I’ll allow it. Because they do! And I think that trailers are the perfect medium for Michael Bay’s filmmaking – there are lots of action pieces, hints at a deeper story, and visuals so impressive that you’re practically vibrating out of your seat to see more. But if there’s one thing that the first four movies have in common – it’s that not a single one of them has delivered on the promises set forth in their trailers. Cool characters introduced in those 90-second mini films turn out to be 10-second cannon-fodder. Satisfying plots turn out to be overly long stories that are loosely plotted, logically suspect, and filled with offensive, single-note treatments of minorities, women, men, and robots.
7. Is that why it’s rated PG-13?
If the first four movies are any indicator, the rating is for non-stop violence, racist jokes, and sexist tropes that Bay thinks are somehow still relevant in 2017. Also, an Autobot will likely say a scatological swear, which makes no sense at all since they don’t have bodily functions. If the 2007 movie’s full 30-second creeper linger on Megan Fox’s backside or the entire “humorous” subplot in Age of Extinction that focused on the legality of carnal relations with a minor are indicators (and they should be), you’ll find plenty of things that you need to talk to your kids about after the film.
8. When’s a good time for a bathroom break?
Go at any time. It makes absolutely no difference what part you miss, you still won’t understand what’s going on. This is by design.
9. Will I want to see it again?
Even if you suffer from blunt head trauma and the memory of your first viewing is (blessedly) expunged, your body will instinctively shut down if you try to subject it to a second viewing.
10. This is amusing. But what if it’s actually a good movie?
It would be fantastic if the Transformers films lit out from the path that Michael Bay has put them on. From the early spoiler reviews I’ve read, however, it doesn’t sound like The Last Knight is the movie that will do that. It’s formulaic pablum that only uses the new mythology to give us a couple of cool characters and ultimately leaves the movie universe more of a mess than when it started.
I’m more hopeful that the Bumblebee solo movie, with its 1980s setting and new director, will be the breath of fresh air that the franchise needs. That is, until Michael Bay takes over the project to ensure that ‘Bee’s love of urinating on humans is highlighted. But, hey – false hope is still hope, right?
9 thoughts on “Totally Unqualified 10 Things Parents Should Know About ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’”
This is exactly why I avoid those awful movies, and exactly the only advice parents need when considering them. Life’s too short to waste your time on bad entertainment (let alone offensively puerile entertainment).
But what about the Bay Checklist? Will the film contain:
1. Something flying in silhouette past an American flag at sunset?
2. Actors painted with a “suntan” makeup that’s somewhat past magenta as if their tanning salon is Chernobyl?
3. Actors running in slow-motion toward the camera while something explodes behind them, lifting the actor who is paradoxically furthest from the explosion and hurling him over the camera?
4. A slow, lingering vertical pan up the torso of a young actress in a tank top who is languidly stretching for no reason?
5. Multiple sequences of things being destroyed from multiple angles to pad out the running time by at least 40 minutes?
You can count on it. I’m certain that he has a spreadsheet somewhere where all of these are cross-referenced in relation to a film’s success.
What the hell are you talking about saw AOE four times in the theatre and watched it more then a dozen times on blu ray and am pretty sure The Last Knight will be even better and I will probably see that the same amount in the theatre as AOE if you are seeing these movies and not enjoying them or understand what is going on you must be brain dead or not a true transformers fan ??
Sorry, but all the early reviews that came out last night agree on one thing – The Last Knight is aggressively incomprehensible. It’s less a matter of not being able to create an internal logic that works for you (which, after dozens of viewings, you have to, it’s just how brains work); but the director himself not being able to stay on task long enough to make the movie satisfy its own internal logic. Bay is good at explosions. He’s good at car chases and slo-mo carnage. But the man has the focus of an addled hummingbird.
If you’re a Bayformers fan, that’s cool. I’m not here to discount your geekdom. But let’s be clear, you’re a modern Transformers movie fan, it’s not the same as a cartoon/comic/toy Transformers fan. I’ve spent thousands since 1984 on the property and stuck with them all the way through the Machine Wars reissues (before Beast Wars revived the brand). I’ve reread the entire Marvel comics run three times as well as Simon Furman’s Regeneration to get the rest of the story he started back in the eighties. I’ve bought and sold and bought again enough toys to fill an entire room. You are correct in that I am not a fan of Michael Bay’s interpretation. But I am a fan of the original Transformers property and what it’s evolved into through fiction and cartoons over the years.
Dude, I am clapping in my empty office.
I particularly liked the end of AOE where Optimus Prime, who up to that point needed a jet pack to fly, suddenly has rockets in his “boots” that can lift him to space. Total nonsense.
Wow, everyone’s taking themselves(and this movie) a bit too seriously!
I don’t mind a fun mindless script; but it’s hard to enjoy a popcorn flick when the breaks in logic keep pulling you out of the action.
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