Written By: Nick Poulimenakos
Five movies. The Transformers series is about get its fifth installment. You’d think that after each film got critically destroyed that Paramount would stop making these films right? Dead wrong. Transformers is a commercial darling, raking in almost $4 billion. So, why would you stop? Michael and Bay and Mark Wahlberg are back for Transformers: The Last Knight, a film that will apparently shake the mythos of the Transformers right to its core. So, how does the fifth film stack up against the previous four entries? Apparently it’s more of the same… and then some…
Transformers: The Last Knight currently sits at a whopping 13% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 57 critic reviews. Let’s see what the critics are saying!
Gav Murphy from IGN:
Michael Bay has now been making Transformers films for more than ten years. In that time, the series has moved on very little and The Last Knight is the loudest and most explosively dull installment yet. A recycled plot told through an overly on-the-nose script, read by a confusing parade of characters, and muddled action scenes does nothing to justify its epic length.
Owen Gleiberman from Variety:
So what does a better “Transformers” movie look like? There’s still a hurtling slovenliness to it — a sense that overly quick cuts and throwaway lines are taking the place of what, in another movie, would be calmly staged dramatic scenes. (Oh, those!) I can only speculate as to why Michael Bay, at a point long past which most producer/directors would have handed off the directorial reins of this series to someone else (hasn’t he — how can I put this? — said all that he has to say?), is still in there, directing this latest installment. It’s almost as if the series fulfills him: Instead of knuckling under to the system the way he had to do when he made such relatively austere works of artisanal craft as “Armageddon” and “Bad Boys,” here he can just let his destructo action-junkie freak flag fly.
Alonso Duralde from The Wrap:
The aforementioned coherent scenes are exciting to watch — there’s an entertaining segment early on where a seemingly blown-apart robot uses its various limbs to separately fight a band of enemies — but by the end of the movie, we’re treated to yet another assaultive Michael Bay finale, where everything is fighting everything else as visual reality collapses and the soundtrack (by Steve Jablonsky, “Deepwater Horizon”) just booms and booms and booms. The final effect isn’t exhilarating, it’s enervating: a lullaby performed by a rock tumbler.
Leah Greenblat from Entertainment Weekly:
Bay has always been a champion of shock-and-awe spectacle over storytelling, a defibrillator jolting volts of pure, uncut action until somebody cries uncle. In rare moments, he does attempt to inject a little sense and context into the franchise’s frenzied mash of Hasbro-toy kitsch and blockbuster bombast (Decepticons, apparently, eat Da Vinci Codes for breakfast, and something Fast and Furious for lunch.) True fans probably don’t need the tangled universe of good versus evil explained to them: Bionic aliens rumble; ancient monuments crumble; guys in the middle of robot Armageddon deliver wry one-liners. That’s just what you do when things go boom. C+
Frank Scheck from The Hollywood Reporter:
Wahlberg, as usual, gives it his all, although he’s already announced that he’s departing the series after this. Haddock makes for a fun, sexy foil, and Hopkins, who’s clearly entered the baroque phase of his career, seems to be having a great deal of fun — although every time he smiles, it seems less organic to his character and more about the new beach house he’s going to buy with the money he’s raking in.
Ian Freer from Empire:
This is reputedly Bay’s (as a director at least) last go-round on the series. Few filmmakers work harder to entertain, throwing in drone chases, car chases (through Oxford and London), submarine shenanigans as well as robo-action, all before a third act climax at Stonehenge. ILM’s work remains peerless — Bumblebee re-piecing himself back together again is immaculate — but the effect of a lot of it is deadening. It is amazing how a series with so much nostalgic goodwill, technical finesse and behind the scenes talent have led so often to experiences that are so joyless. Bay has many talents; smart, sharp bouncy summer fun isn’t one of them.
Bay’s genuine determination to give you a good time still doesn’t result in fun. Overlong, overstuffed and soulless, for fans who grew up with Optimus and Co, The Last Knight will sting like a bee.
Scott Mendelson from Forbes:
Transformers: The Last Knight is something I’ve never been able to say about a Michael Bay Transformers movie. It’s… ordinary. While it looks gorgeous and has a few impressive action beats, it feels oddly run-of-the-mill and lacking much of what made the franchise stand out even as big-budget would-be blockbusters became more and more par-for-the-course. Yes, there is something to be said for Bay toning down some of his eccentricities and offering a more kid-friendly Transformers movie, but the film mostly lacks the jaw-dropping absurdity, spectacle and weirdness of the sequels. I’m glad I was able to take my older kids to see this one in glorious IMAX 3D without having to worry about inappropriate jokes and gruesome violence (and, for what it’s worth, having never seen any of these films before, they loved it), but there is nothing to replace the utter madness contained in the previous installments. Whether or not it’s objectively “worse” than Revenge of the Fallen, it’s surely the one I am least likely to ever watch again.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky from The A.V Club:
And yet the more striking moments of The Last Knight—this is an ostentatious Michael Bay movie, after all—speak just as loudly to its director’s indifference to both source material and visual scale. These include extended, Bay-ified homages to James Cameron (a little Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a lot of Aliens and The Abyss) and Ridley Scott (specifically Gladiator) and a debris-clogged free fall climax that embraces the weightlessness of the Transformers style by making it literal. But though The Last Knight gets a few legitimate laughs out of its readiness to mock itself, it concludes on the same inane note as every Transformers movie before it, with Optimus Prime looking to the sky as he informs the audience and all those unlucky enough to share his fictional world that the real battle is yet to come. Perhaps robots don’t get bored. Michael Bay, at least, is only human.
So what do you think? Are you going to see Transformers: The Last Knight this weekend? Comment below and on social media and for all things in nerd culture and entertainment, keep it locked on Talkies Network!