Written By: Mathew ‘JJ’ Simoes
In Michael Bay’s final entry in the Transformers Franchise (now cinematic universe) Optimus Prime has left earth, and the remaining Autobots must work with their human allies to discover a long-buried secret to save the earth from Quintessa, the transformers Creator. Also, they have to battle the Decepticons and the Transformers Reaction Force, an anti-transformer group. Was this epic film any good? The answer is no, the movie was terrible.
This film has a great number of flaws, but my main gripe is how much is retreads on past films, and offers absolutely nothing new to the franchise, which is odd considering that’s what the promos advertised. This film felt incredibly stale, as it recycles elements from the series’ previous entries into a convoluted and non-engaging story. I mean it takes at least one thing from each previous film, and meshes them together in the hopes of doing something new with the franchise, but it’s just more of the same. This leads to a very incoherent story, as none of the plot elements form a good narrative.
The flashbacks revealing how deeply entrenched the transformer are in human history feels pretty boring as well. First of all, every other movie did this, the only difference with this one being that they went really far back in time. To be perfectly honest, it feels like the flashbacks were put there to set up and/or justify a series of prequel films.
The film has two villains, and neither are entertaining. The Transformers franchise suffers from the same disease that the X-Men films seem to have, said disease being that can’t let go of one antagonists. Just like Magneto, Megatron has been played out in these films. I mean the character’s burnout was felt in the third film, where he didn’t really do anything. There are so many transformers in Hasbro’s catalogue, just pick another one for the love of God. Quintessa is a very uninspired villain, and ends up playing second fiddle to Megatron by the film’s end. I was excited when she debuted during the film’s trailers, as I am tired of Megatron (as stated earlier). However, she’s basically a tiny version of Sentinel Prime, without the awesomeness that is Leonard Nimoy’s voice. Beyond her plan, nothing is revealed about the character, with the film refusing to explain her motivation. Nothing about her plan, or the film’s overall story, make any sense whatsoever.
The biggest flaw, next to the film’s lack of originality, was the over abundance of characters. There are so many transformers in this film, and I’m well aware that this is mainly done to sell toys. The film has way to many characters to keep track of, and the film solves this by having certain characters disappear from the plot until they’re needed, without much of an explanation. This leads to a horribly paced story, as we are forced to jump back and forth between an un-Godly amount of characters, rarely settling in long enough to get to know them beyond their obvious archetypes. So, little time is spent on Quintessa, so we don’t really learn much about her, and Optimus disappears for very large stretches of time, during which I forget he’s even in the film. Speaking of Optimus, his change to the dark side isn’t explained very well and ends in a predictable fashion.
In terms of the film’s themes, it’s all about the importance of returning home, with home being a place where one feels wanted. Now this is an incredibly relevant theme, considering the Transformers in this film are clearly refugees from a horrific war who just want to find a place that accepts them. However, the film doesn’t approach this theme with much nuance. Instead it merely exists as a series of very on the nose statements. Isabel Moner’s character arc in theory is very interesting, but she’s not given much of presence in the film for it be good in practice. Mark Wahlberg gives a fairly uneven performance as Cade Yeager, who is merely there to play the role of the human hero. Cade’s barely a character in this film, and the surrogate father role he plays to Isabel lasts maybe less than ten minutes, and that’s being generous. Laura Haddock’s character is just as undeveloped as Cade, and their romance is so forced that ending kiss feels undeserved.
Then film does have a few saving graces. Like most Transformers films, the action set pieces are detailed and larger than life, with Bay going out of his way to create a visually rich film. The action sequences are really fun to watch when the film manages to focus in on a few characters. The majority of the actions scenes cut between dozens of characters using far too many camera angels, making it difficult to focus on what’s important. That being said, between the fast-paced action and an epic film score, it’s enough to make you forget the film’s ridiculous story. Anthony Hopkins and Cogman are the best part of this film. Hopkins’ character is a joy to watch, as he gets some of the film’s best lines. There’s also something incredibly cathartic about hearing Hopkins recite the film’s lines, such as enunciating the word ‘dude’. Cogman, like Hopkins, gets many of the film’s best lines. Cogman’s open hostility to the human characters and his interest in creating epic music for Hopkins’ speeches, is incredibly fun to watch.
If you want to shut off your brain for two and a half hours, and just go with the flow of what Bay has to offer you this fifth time around, this film will do the trick. There’s lots of action and explosions, without any depth of meaning whatsoever. This is now the film’s second soft reboot, and since this is Bay’s last film, maybe a hard reboot is the way to go for the franchise’s future.
Mathew’s Rating – 3.5/10
Nick’s Rating – 5.2/10
Artur’s Rating – 4/10
One question, and it’s a continuity one, wasn’t Cybertron destroyed at the end of Dark of the Moon? I’m pretty sure it was.
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