TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT Review
Director: Michael Bay
Though its 148-minute runtime technically marks it as the second shortest Transformers film, make no mistake—TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT is the longest motion picture ever made. Sitting bored numb out of my skull during a scene wherein Anthony Hopkins and a 4-foot-tall murderbot explain to Mark Wahlberg that the buxom professor they kidnapped, thanks to the help of a Frenchman Lamborghini Transformer, is in fact a descendant of Merlin the Wizard, I—Ok, so, I probably just sold you on the movie. Hollow weirdness is the true evil of THE LAST KNIGHT. Storylines and extensions of the lore fly by a mile a minute, to the point where it seems that none of the plots of the previous films had been consulted at all. Apparently, Transformers were used to fight the Third Reich. In fact, they’ve been war weapons for humans for centuries. But it was all off the record. Medieval dragons? Those were real, but they were 12 Transformers that morphed together to form a big flying monster. That . . . OK, sure, fine. This is one of the most thoroughly bizarre and bonkers Hollywood blockbuster screenplays ever produced, but the drolly self-serious execution is so toxic that it transforms wacko to “whatever.”
Only 19 more to go!
Oh, right, back to that insane Merlin exposition scene. By this point, I was walloped by the film’s breadth, pummeled into the ground by its minute-by-minute attempts at comedy. Surely we were 3/4ths of the way in. I checked my watch . . . I was barely at the 56-minute mark. Holy shit, Michael Bay. Michael Bay hates his viewers. His decisions are senseless. According to Bay, aforementioned Frenchman Lamborghini Transformer, Hot Rod, “speaks with a French accent, but he’s not French, he just likes speaking French.” Newly introduced, evil Transformers have gold chains and speak in ebonics (he didn’t learn his lesson from REVENGE OF THE FALLEN). Mark Wahlberg is a fugitive on the run, but always keeps a stocked refrigerator of Bud Lite. Bumblebee at one point speaks in Big Sean lyrics. This director is an honest-to-God monster. The Transformers films are as soulless as studio films get, with the global brand recognition aimed at selling tickets, merchandise and ad time: the only aspect setting the TRANSFORMERS franchise apart from the Super Bowl is a lack of deflated balls. Call Michael Bay whatever you please, just make sure you include “ballsy,” too. What other director could make films so patently off-putting in their abrasiveness but also spin it so they’re the safest, most digestible products possible? These pictures are the outputs of a man who has been mistakenly given too much power, and not a single soul can take it away now.
I trust ‘im!
Bay’s affinity for sloppy editing has made his work near-incomprehensible since ARMAGEDDON, but the Michael Bay of the ’90s, even early 2000s, was a stickler for tripod-heavy compositional clarity. Think Jerry Bruckheimer on coke. Here we are met with 2010s Bay: the megalomaniacal, jingoist madman. This man is coke on coke. You don’t like his movie? Fuck you. You aren’t going to see another one of his movies? Fuck you, he knows there’s a couple million more shills who just wanna have a good time, asshole. The more money Bay’s been handed, the more willfully reckless and experimental his direction has become. Bash the filmmaker all you’d like, but have you ever seen another film remotely like his own? In THE LAST KNIGHT, a ruthless Bay frames Americana like he’s carving brisket with a chainsaw. The multitude of landscapes are chopped, slanted, blurry, or a combination of all three. When this film relishes in its discontinuous kinesis (the camera floats through battlefields like a mechanical angel of death, through clashing sparks, failed cutaway jokes, and mismatched shots), it sustains an exhilarating rush. THE LAST KNIGHT’s reformation of global geography, namely during two standout western standoffs between Autobots and Decepticons in an Arizona ghost town, and later on a hovering pastoral ship, sludges iconography with impeccable computer generated imagery. It’s a clumsy ballet at play, one that has a promising first hour: Bay really seems to be embracing the picture as a huge farce. But then he takes the material real seriously. Far too seriously.
As if the decades-long second act wasn’t exhausting enough, Optimus Prime and Bumblebee spend the interminable final 55 minutes just tearing each other apart and I couldn’t keep focus . . . not that I was really trying, to be honest. My mind wandered to a multitude of topics, at the forefront being THE BOSS BABY’s problematic body imagery. Dreamworks Animation’s THE BOSS BABY contains a treatment of ass that is so odd, I haven’t been able to live a full day without mulling over it. A scene where the Boss Baby’s ass is smacked with baby powder feels like an illegal fetish video. The body of the butt jiggles with delight upon every hard slap . . . that is not how babies are treated, nor is it how they react; that is a team of animators attributing kinky spanking references to the diaper changing of an animated infant. The entire ass representation is baffling in that it takes the context of adult ass handling and attempts to translate it to nascent development, combining elements of old and young to witness an innocence lost. A boss baby who never got to be a baby. In connecting adult and child ass play, THE BOSS BABY’s choice of giving the Boss Baby a huge butt literally feeds into the theme of the movie. In THE BOSS BABY, ass becomes *the* theme of the movie.
Congrats, you’re on a watch list now!
Suddenly, Michael Bay’s name popped up on the screen and the credits were rolling. Exiting the theater, I discovered I had been watching TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT for three days straight. The sunlight torched my skin. My ears rung. My heart sank.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend