Review – A Prime Opti-Mess (“Transformers: The Last Knight”)

I’m crazy. I mean, I have to be to keep going to see these idiotic Transformers movies, right? They’re childish, badly written, have the worst dialogue ever put on screen, and include gratuitous shots of hot babes, extreme explosions, rampaging CGI robots, and massive amounts of property damage and… oh, wait. Now, I know why I go to see them. Never mind.
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Strap yourself in for two and a half hours of mind-numbing, plot-holed stupidity that can be only be another Transformers movie. With multiple storylines ping-ponging across the screen, you’ll need a score card to keep up with who’s who and what’s going on, but I’ll try and make sense of it all. If you saw part four (and why did you?), Optimus Prime headed out into space (like Superman did) to find his home planet of Cybertron, while Earth has declared all Transformers bad guys, thanks to the new TRF, who hunts these mechanical menaces down and either destroys or imprisons them. And really, who can blame them.

Plot #37 has street-wise and mechanically-minded 14-year-old orphan Izabella (Isabela Moner) hooking-up with fugitive Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg) who, not only runs a ginormous car junk yard, but protects and repairs Autobots (he has a bunch of them running around for fun). But all is not well, as we always learn in these movies, and Cade has been chosen for a metallic talisman… a talisman we see from the movies opening about the Transformers (plot #12) saving King Arthur’s butt. It looks like Merlin (Stanley Tucci) was given a powerful Cybertron staff than can control Transformers and, fast-forward to today, finding that staff is plot #9.

Meanwhile, plot #16 kicks-in as Quintessa, Cybertron’s goddess, brainwashes Optimus and has planet Cybertron moving towards Earth to suck our planet dry with Prime’s help. But first we have to deal with plot #11, English Lit Professor Viviane Wembly (Laura Haddock), is a scrappy British teacher that discovers later on in plot #4, that she is a direct descedent of Merlin! In plot #55, Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) and his faithful, but really annoying robot butler, Cogman (Jim Carter) brings Cade and Viviane together to help find that staff, since she is the only one can wield it and save Earth. That’s plots #18, #21, and #5.

Added to all this are: Megatron being let loose by TRF to find whatever it is he’s looking for so he can be tracked (plot #44), John Turturro in Cuba (a Transformers-free zone) providing vital intel (plot #8), and the family name Witwicky is recalled and how these robots have been helping mankind since the 1600’s (plot #17), which makes NO sense whatsoever! Anyway, it’s all about that damn staff and who gets it first. There’s your requisite HUGE fight at Stonehenge for the penultimate battle with the Decepticons vs the Autobots vs the TRF. . .plus some new robots thrown into the mix. And don’t forget the planet Cybertron destroying Earth! Whew, what a mess!

Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, and Ken Nolan wrote this fast-paced, head-buzzing nonsense with absolutely no regard to plotting, pace, logic, time-framing, or historical accuracy with the backstory being not only confusing, but making zero sense. Written like a bad online-fan fiction, the dialogue is cheap and lame, which is keeping with the overall feel of the series.

Director Michael Bay doesn’t do anything new here; it’s his same ‘ol, same’ ol sweeping pan & close-up shots that he uses with alarming frequency. Yawn. Tons of explosions? Check. Bullets galore? Check. Untold property damage? Check. Robots attacking each other so you can’t tell one from another? Check and check. Forced love story thrown in because… reasons? Got that. Goofy tech guys that wear glasses? Done. Lovable kids for the children watching in the audience? Oh, yeah!

I will say this though, for all the impressive CGI insanity on screen (and there was lots of that) and utter lunacy of the plot(s), none of the actors phoned in their roles. Wahlberg and Haddock gave great performances, as did young Moner (only her second movie!) with a truly commanding screen presence. Even surprising was legendary Sir Anthony Hopkins, looking like he was genuinely having fun, whipping out cheesy dialogue and making it sound like Shakespeare. Even Tucci and Turturro launched into their characters’ cameos with wild abandon. It’s just shame that the rest of the movie was so predictably trite and boring.                             

 
Starting out as a kids TV cartoon series and a huge line of toys, Transformers (more than meets the eye!), was clearly the brain-child of Michael “bigger is better” Bay and his patented way use of explosions, hot-looking half-naked girls, wicked-cool robots, totally shameless product placement, and even more explosions. Yes, one can only see a movie like that and say,”Yeah, that’s a Michael Bay film, all right!”. So, with number five in the pipe, let’s take a look back at the cinematic history of the strangest and oddly prolific franchise around. Cue the explosions, please.  
 
Transformers (2007)
 
Dumb, silly, and completely fun to watch, this kick-started the franchise with the origin story of the Transformers: the planet Cybertron and their civil war between the good Autobots, led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen voiced), and the super-evil Megatron (Hugo Weaving), leader of the Decepticons. We have the powerful AllSpark that powers them and is lost somewhere in Arctic Circle, thanks to Optimus, so that Megatron can’t get his evil claws on it. But a millennia goes by and high-schooler Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) somehow is the recipient of the secret map to the AllSpark via his glasses.
 

The Autobots and Decepticons are resurrected soon afterwards and the world learns of these Godzilla-sized robots that attack other, utter stupid dialoge, and cause untold devastation and property damage. Sam meets his super-hot girlfriend, Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) and Bumblebee, his radio-only talking Camaro. There’s also subplots of secret Section 7 and a bunch of Army rangers, but who cares! Those robots destroying everything in their path is way cool! Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who both wrote the fun and exciting J. J. Abrams Star Trek reboot, really cashed in here with a witty and unserious Saturday morning cartoon-ish feel for the movie. Then came the sequels…

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the theaters, you get this pile of nuts ‘n’ bolts. Written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, with Ehren Kruger, this nonsensical baloney has returning Sam now in college and following a sorta Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines plot. Y’see, while Megan is off doing her thing guarding the AllSpark shard from part one with Bumblebee, Sam is being seduced by a new Decepticon female robot called Alice (Isabel Lucas). But she’s found out, and all the robots come back for another war as usual, even though it’s been two years.

Then there’s the old looney Section 7 and those gung-ho Army Ranger boys who all get together to bring the Decepticons down along with Optimus Prime and his brothers in arms. Naturally, there are a whole new slew of Autobots and Decepticons to keep track of, but seriously, why bother? There’s so much confusion on the screen you can’t tell who’s fighting who anyway. Bay just through away all reason and filmed a gigantic mess of battle and explosions like a he was on LSD, earning him THREE Golden Raspberry Awards! Did he quit? Nope!

Transformers: Dark of the Moon  (2011)

With just Ehren Krugen at the typewriter, the screenplay went sideways and had a darker feel to it. The Apollo 11 moon landing is a cover story for the crash landing of the ARK, a spacecraft from the planet Cybertron. Decades later, Optimus Prime goes to the moon and finds out that the ARK contains his old mentor, Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy voiced ) who has invented a ‘space bridge’ teleporter from Cybertron to Earth. It sounds like a good idea, right? Wrong! It’s all a deception and Sentinel plans on bringing those nasty Decepticons from Cybertron to conquer Earth!

Meanwhile, Sam got himself a new hot girlfriend because Megan said the director acted like Hitler (it’s true, Google it). She’s Carly Spencer (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and together they find out the ruse, only to have Carly kidnapped by a human sympathizer to the Decepticons. Then the destruction starts… again… with Optimus using a new arm-cannon to wipe out many of the evil Decepticons for good. In a unexpected finale, Optimus not only brutally executes Megatron, but Sentinal as well. Geez, Louise! That was cold! Not as corny or stupid as the last one, this actually had a decent plot for once. But then, something happened…

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

What. The. Hell. Ehren Kruger who wrote the decent previous movie, drank the grape Kool-aid and wrote this unbelievable waste of film that garnered not one, but SEVEN Golden Raspberry nominations! A complete travesty and utterly insane plot is the best way to put it; even Shia and Rosie didn’t come back… even for a cameo! Mark Wahlberg took over as a hunk-of-the-month dad with Nicole Peltz as his totally hot teenage daughter (who’s dating a super-hot looking guy!)

The story, if you can call it that, has a ruthless Cybertron bounty hunter named Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan) going after Optimus Prime and is in league with human Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer). Attinger secretly wants ALL Transformers dead, good or bad, and plans on double-crossing Lockdown to do so. How? By cloning bits of leftover Megatron into another Decepticon called Galvatron and having it attack all the others. But things go bad, naturally, and (here we go again) a gigantic war begins in Hong Kong where Optimus gets help from (oy!!) humongous DINOBOTS that are being held prisoner aboard a spaceship floating above Earth! I kid you not! Later, Optimus takes off to find Cybertron in outer space after the world-wide destruction. Gee, thanks!

This was just plain stupid and a throwback to part two where nothing made any sense and things just exploded and robots just fought each other for two hours. Michael Bay made no apologies and kicked-back, stating that he planned on making even MORE of these movies (six more, to be exact!).

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