Transformers: The Last Knight is the fifth in the possibly-never-ending series of films based on the Hasbro toys… I say ‘possibly’ because with the diminishing returns that this installment has brought in, it does question whether the next two films, pencilled in quickly for June 2018 and June 2019 – the former being a Bumblebee spin-off, will go ahead.
Before I describe the plot (such that it is), I will state atop this review that The Last Knight is the most intense 3D IMAX experience I’ll have all year, so it’s a shame that not as many people have gone to see it as the previous installments, but then that’s Michael Bay making a rod for his own back with making the same film time and again, as well as including an incomprehensible storyline.
It was two-and-a-half hours long. I have no idea what happened. All I know is that it started, it happened, and then it ended.
And when it did finally conclude, the credits were a concise and perfunctory five minutes in length when, given the 144 minutes that had gone before, I expected around 15 to be the figure. So, for anyone in a rush to get to the end, now you know how long it will take.
The movie begins in the time of King Arthur, and Merlin, and so on, the latter of whom – played by Stanley Tucci, so not returning as his Transformers: Age of Extinction role of Joshua Joyce, but I did think he looked familiar – acquires a Dragon Staff, of sorts – well, he manages to summon a dragon with it. However, the big hitch is that he’s effectively stolen it from Quintessa (voiced by Gemma Chan). Fast forward to the present day and Transformers have been banned across the entire world, except in Cuba where they’re allowed to sun themselves on the beach.
The impossibly-named Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is a legend for his actions in the last film but he’s on the run from the law, yet still works out of the same old auto-wreck yard, so they’d know where to find him anyway(!)
He comes across a talisman which becomes entwined with him. Megatron wants it, but he ain’t getting it due to how it behaves as it becomes intrinsicly linked to our hero, so Cade couldn’t hand it over if he tried.
There’s 6 horns in 6 locations, such as Namibia, Jordan and Washington… or something. There’s certainly 6 locations, but it hopped around like a don’t-know-what – and they’re rarely filming in the places in which they claim to be, so I soon got mixed up where we were. However, with 6 horns, it’s really time to… er… get the horn.
With Cade’s daughter away at college (so, Nicola Peltz really wanted to turn down a big paycheque, or didn’t Bay want her back?), he’s joined by young Isabela Moner as… er… Izabella. Or “Izabella with a ‘ZEE'” as she states emphatically, missing out the duplicate “l” letters. Clearly, they worked hard on her character’s name. As a feisty kid, she’s an expert on cars and not too annoying, but she’s an orphan and when she says she wants to stay and fight, all she does after that is just tag along.
Plus, like everyone else in the film, despite the events taking place over the course of 2-3 days, no-one ever eats. Aren’t they hungry?? No-one ever brushes their teeth, either.
As for the rest of the cast, Anthony Hopkins turns up as Anthony Hopkins, I mean, he hams it up as 12th Earl of Folgan, Sir Edmund Burton, who has a C3PO-like butler, Cogman – a brilliant turn from Jim Carter. Josh Duhamel returns for some pay as Colonel William Lennox, just so he can basically say “Hey, I know these guys, and I know who are good and who are bad”, while Laura Haddock is Vivian Wembley, potential love interest but, despite the name, not only does her similarly-surnamed Giles Wembley (James Bachman) NOT return, but no mention is made of the link!
I loved his turn in the last film and was hoping he’d be in this one. He confirmed on Twitter some time ago that, sadly, he’s not in it, but I do think this is a missed opportunity for Bay. There is, however, some amusing comedic moments from various members of Vivian’s family including Maggie Steed (We The Jury), Sara Stewart (Batman Begins), Phoebe Nicholls (Fortitude) and Rebecca Front (The Thick Of It).
24‘s Glenn Morshower plays… General Morshower (very ‘Izabella'(!) while John Turturro’s Agent Simmons character also pops up but he’s pretty much an afterthought in this, and really has no reason to be in this one. Presumably, he has a hold over the head honcho.
Oh, and while Michael Bay is the director, I did spot another crew member in the flash-by-too-fast closing credits of Michael Day. Almost a coincidence!
Add in Barricade is wearing a knuckleduster with the word “Punish” on it, a special book in the Trinity Library, in England, that holds the key to everything, the 12 Knights of the Round Table being backed by 12 Knights from Cybertron, plus riding along in an ancient submarine that could never ever (realistically) set sail again, and despite all that random nonsense, what really struck me is that there’s not a great deal of Optimus Prime in this film. Okay, so at the end of the last film he was left for dead and heading back to Cybertron, but thanks to new events, he’s (eventually) on his way back to Earth… with Cybertron.
Finally, for my geeky side, the previous film also varied in ratio throughout the film, between 2.35:1 and 1.90:1, but only the 3D Blu-ray retained that. The 2D Blu-ray and DVD were both 2.35:1 throughout. This time round, I understand that even the non-IMAX screenings, whether 3D or 2D, have the varying ratios. I can imagine that works fine on a 1.85:1 screen, but it’ll be effectively windowboxed on a 2.35:1 screen.
A friend of mine saw it in 2D and said he found the changing ratios confusing and a bit annoying. As for Michael Bay, he says he likes varying the ratios just to mix things up a bit. This is quite a rarity in film. I can only remember Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar as changing regularly WITHIN a scene, rather than with certain scene-setting moments, as in The Dark Knight Rises.
And as this film is the 3D IMAX experience of the year, I’m sure Nolan’s Dunkirk will do the same for 2D IMAX, as it’s in 70mm 1.44:1.
Now for some spoilery stuff, which I’ll hide behind a spoiler tag…
Running time: 149 minutes
Studio: PAramount Pictures
Cinema: Vue Printworks, Manchester
Format: 1.90:1 (IMAX 3-D version: some scenes), 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (6.5K) (dual-strip 3-D), Digital Intermediate (4K), Anamorphic Hawk Scope, IMAX Digital 3-D (6.5K) (dual-strip 3-D), Anamorphic Panavision, Redcode RAW (6K) (8K) (dual-strip 3-D))
Released: Thursday June 22nd 2017
Film Rating: 6/10
IMAX 3D Experience: 10/10
Director: Michael Bay
Producers: Ian Bryce, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Don Murphy
Screenplay: Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Ken Nolan (based on a story by them and Akiva Goldsman)
Music: Steve Jablonsky
Cade Yeager: Mark Wahlberg
Sir Edmund Burton: Anthony Hopkins
Vivian Wembley: Laura Haddock
Izabella: Isabela Moner
Cogman: Jim Carter
Colonel William Lennox: Josh Duhamel
Santos: Santiago Cabrera
Jimmy: Jerrod Carmichael
Merlin: Stanley Tucci
General Morshower: Glenn Morshower
Quintessa: Gemma Chan
Agent Simmons: John Turturro
King Arthur: Liam Garrigan
Lancelot: Martin McCreadie
Percival: Rob Witcomb
Gawain: Marcus Fraser
Vivian’s Grandmum: Maggie Steed
Vivian’s Mum: Sara Stewart
Aunt Helen: Phoebe Nicholls
Aunt Marie: Rebecca Front
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.