Transformers: The Last Knight. Well it wasn’t good. I mean, I wasn’t expecting it to be, really. It’s the fifth instalment in a franchise that Michael Bay (Armageddon, Pain & Gain, Bad Boys) desperately needs to let go of, but instead of Transformers: The Last Knight just disappointing me, it actually managed to reach a point where it angered me. Michael Bay’s misogynistic performance of masculinity explodes over our screens not just in the thundering and never ending action scenes, but in the clunky, poorly constructed dialogue and the insulting portrayal of anyone with a background in academia, women, men, frankly everyone in this movie. No, it’s not a film for which I’m the target audience. That doesn’t mean I hated it any less.
Let’s start with what I liked (this section may be brief): visually, the film is very nice. Pretty pictures. Visually stunning. Yay. Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, Thor, Westworld) is great, having a great old time, and is frankly the only character I really liked in this film. Bublebee has a cool new trick where he can fall apart and then his parts manage to assemble themselves back together, that was cool. Oh, and a slow motion gun thing, that created some sort of force field where time goes slowly inside the force field, and moves at normal speed outside. That’s it. That’s everything I liked.
Okay, thematic problems with this film. First and foremost, Michael Bay has this amazing ability to make every character that isn’t a middle-aged man, into something that’s either insulting, an unbelievable caricature, or both. What tween boy can’t find the keys to a car he’s trying to steal, so yells “imma hotwire this b*tch!” What 10 year old talks like that? Clearly Michael Bay did. Or perhaps so he wishes.
Worse still is his portrayal of women. When introduced to a female oxford professor, Vivian Wembley (not prof. Vivian Wembley, not Dr. Vivian Wembley, just “miss Vivian” as she’s referred to), she’s constantly made to be the butt of all manner of jokes and physical humour. Laura Haddock’s performance was great, and good comedic timing and physical humour isn’t the easiest thing to nail. Of course she’s constantly put into skimpy dresses and high heels and low cut tops, but that’s not my biggest issue. Women can be smart and attractive, that’s fine. What I take umbrage with is that it’s established that she’s a highly educated, intelligent woman, but constantly seen being unable to park a car, or struggling to walk in heels on cobblestones, or tumbling down the side of a grassy hill with the men stand and look on with questionable looks on their faces. She’s clearly made to be the least capable person in the room, when she also happens to be the highest educated person there!
It’s not just Bay’s misogyny wafting through his academic characters, apparently it’s anyone who has any sort of background in academia. Tony Hale whom some of you might recognise from Veep, works in some sort of unclear yet unofficial capacity, where he’s consulting with the likes of NASA, yet it’s like whenever he tries to reasonably explain, using any scientific methods, what’s happening? The script slaps him in the face with the back of Michael Bay’s hand for trying to be intelligent. Basically, anyone that’s smart is an idiot in Bay’s upside down world, and anyone that’s an idiot is the hero.
Thematic problems aside, the plot itself doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Every transformers movie has a magic McGuffin that they need to find and use to save the day. Whilst not traditionally the mark of an exemplary written story, it can be used effectively (see basically every marvel move with an infinity stone). Transformers: The Last Knight, however, brings you not one – but two! Two magical McGuffins to waste your time with for the next two and a half hours! For some reason the American government think it’s a good idea to work with the Decepticons (bad robots), in order to find the Autobots (good robots), even though it’s established near the start of the films that there’s still some semblance of a connection between Mark Whalberg’s robots and the military. So why not call your mate, Josh Duhamel, and save my eyes an hour of chasing people pointlessly around the world?
This movie is trying to do too much, and what’s annoying is if you stripped it right back, it could almost be interesting. I like alien invasion movies. The idea of transformers and humans having to co-exist could be interesting. The problem is, no one in the entire cluster clunk of a series seems to care at all about story. At all. The result is an expensive, offence, waste of my time. It does not deserve your money, attention or sympathy. Michael Bay needs to move on, and so does the rest of the world. Do not watch this movie.