‘Transformers’ has never exactly been the most popular series among film critics, and the latest instalment has proved to be no exception.
Reviews are out now for ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’, and despite turns from big names like Anthony Hopkins, Stanley Tucci and Mark Wahlberg, critics aren’t exactly blown away by the new addition to the saga (although one or two were rather charmed by the so-bad-it’s-good aesthetic).
Here’s just a selection of what they’ve had to say…
The Guardian (1/5)
“The prominent action-movie maestro Michael Bay has given us the fifth movie in the Transformers toy-retail film franchise. Or maybe it is the 45th. It is difficult to tell, just as it is difficult to remember precisely how many cars were involved in a motorway pile-up in which you have been injured. We’re talking about the same steroidal infantilism as the previous four films, the same epic of tinnitus-inducing pointlessness that audiences have come to love or hate or sullenly wait to be over. Like so many of Michael Bay’s movies, it is a machine for converting your brain matter into soup...
‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ comes in at 149 minutes, and each of those minutes lasts as long as the reign of Charlemagne. Once again, normal-sized cars turn themselves into gigantic robots, while professional actors and technicians watch something comparably tumescent happen to their bank accounts.”
“Popcorn director and pyrotechnics fetishist Michael Bay once defended his style of filmmaking by arguing that he caters to ‘teenage boys’. It occurred to me not long into Transformers: The Last Knight, just as yet another explosion sent bodies flying through the air, that Mr. Bay might have been a little hopeful in saying so.
“A more suitable audience I later thought (this time attempting to distract myself from some insufferable inter-Transformer ‘banter’), might be the inhabitants of the monkey enclosure at London Zoo.
“After all, monkeys tend not to be too bothered if something lacks a coherent or compelling narrative (as those troublesome teenage boys can be) and at any rate, if they don’t like what they see they can hurl excrement at the screen in a way that cinema audiences are generally frowned upon for doing.”
“Monster metal, mass destruction, Anthony Hopkins saying “dude.” This is your brain on Michael Bay—a cortex scramble so amped on pyro and noise and brawling cyborgs it can only process what’s happening on screen in onomatopoeia: Clang! Pew-pew! Kablooey! (Which, to be fair, does cover about 80 percent of the script.)
“Bay has always been a champion of shock-and-awe spectacle over storytelling, a defibrillator jolting volts of pure, uncut action until somebody cries uncle. In rare moments, he does attempt to inject a little sense and context into the franchise’s frenzied mash of Hasbro-toy kitsch and blockbuster bombast.”
“‘The Last Knight’ is the fifth in the series, but it’s probably no harder or easier to understand if you’ve seen the previous installments. There’s so much stuff in it, it’s impossible to keep track of it all anyway.
“Some of the set pieces are… pretty cool… But as the film goes on and the story gets less coherent and the battles get bigger, they start to blend together. Which is how I found myself staring at the climax of the movie with no earthly idea how I’d gotten there, or what I was looking at, or why.”
“Am I really expecting a ‘Transformers’ movie to be some sort of feminist manifesto? No, but it is unacceptable that in 150 minutes of screen time, the only time women are allowed to speak to each other is about Mark Wahlberg. We’re living in a post-Wonder Woman world, people, and to not call this out is backtracking. (In fairness, The Last Knight was made pre-Wonder Woman.) (But also, Izabella and Vivian are in scenes together and still never utter one line to each other! They only silently embrace!)
“Although this was reportedly his final time director a Transformers film, Michael Bay should be held to a higher standard on this, and then the movie can be smashing cars and robots sword fighting. Alternatively: at the very least, can the fictional White House government not be composed exclusively of old, white dudes? Aren’t these movies supposed to be escapism?”
“The good news about the latest Transformers movie is that — spoiler alert! — the world gets saved at the conclusion. The bad news is that it leaves the opportunity for more Transformers movies.
“This profitable franchise has not exactly enjoyed critical praise since its first installment in 2007, and ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ is unlikely to change that. But bad reviews are unlikely to dissuade the series’ fans, who enjoy seeing lots of things blown up, with director Michael Bay once again happy to oblige. That the film required no less than six editors doesn’t come as a surprise.”
“Bay has an authentic sense of the gigantic; beside the playful enormity of his ‘Transformer’-ised universe, the ostensibly heroic dimensions of Ridley Scott’s and Christopher Nolan’s massive visions seem like petulant vanities. Yet his sense of speed works against his sense of scale and of detail.
“All the best moments in the movie—pure images, devoid of symbol and, for that matter, nearly empty of sense—go by too fast, are held too briefly, are developed too little.
“Bay’s highest inspirations are those of a virtually experimental filmmaker of pure sensation; the rush of sensation is also a temptation for experimental filmmakers who often don’t keep their own images onscreen very long (cf. Stan Brakhage). The absolute tastelessness of Bay’s images, their stultifying service to platitudes and to merchandise, doesn’t at all diminish their wildly imaginative power.”
“‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ is something I’ve never been able to say about a Michael Bay ‘Transformers’ movie. It’s... ordinary. While it looks gorgeous and has a few impressive action beats, it feels oddly run-of-the-mill and lacking much of what made the franchise stand out even as big-budget would-be blockbusters became more and more par-for-the-course.
“It turns out, if you take away the stuff that fans and critics have complained about for the last ten years, there isn’t much to recommend and you end up with a ‘Transformers’ movie little different from any number of conventional big-budget studio franchise pictures.”
“Get to the fifth installment of a film series, especially a sci-fi action one with a reputation for mindless bloat, and you can generally assume you’ll be looking at the franchise’s most dreadful offering yet. But — surprise — the fifth ‘Transformers’ movie, ‘The Last Knight’, is far from the worst in this continuing experiment in noisy nonsense based on Hasbro toys. That is thanks largely to two words: Anthony Hopkins.
‘What Mr. Hopkins, a knighted Emmy and Oscar winner, is doing in a ‘Transformers’ movie is unclear, but he brings a goofy dignity to the enterprise that elevates this chapter over its recent brethren.”
“There’s a lot more time and ink to be spent on charting the film’s many… glaring woes, from the comically dated sexism flung at Haddock every few minutes to the number of plot points either reshaped or outright culled from previous installments.
“But as the series’ deafening sensibilities don’t even seem to have a purpose anymore, at least outside of sustained commerce, it almost seems beside the point to rake it over the coals any further. It’s a huge pile of money, lit on fire for the entertainment of audiences who don’t mind settling for less, in service of amassing another one to light in three or four years’ time.
“The CGI is still incomprehensible, the characters are still paper-thin, and it’s a movie that even manages to reduce magic itself to the trickery of ancient machines. It’s not necessarily the worst of the series, but it’ll likely go down as the least memorable to date. Depending on where you stand, that might be the most unforgivable trait of all.”
Digital Spy (3/5)
“As punchy as the narrative can be, the main problem with ’The Last Knight\ – something that afflicts the whole franchise – is the final act. It’s just one big metal gangbang, where humans, robots, planes and god knows what else come together for what feels like an eternity. Bay doesn’t do small – never has – and this 149-minute monster takes some stamina to make it through to the end.
“...If you can stand the ear-shattering sound design, and the half-crazy plot, you might enjoy a fun but flawed ride. With a neat post-credits reveal that’s worth hanging around for, Bay may be leaving the franchise, but the ‘Transformers’ look set to live on.”
The Telegraph (4/5)
“For the climax of Michael Bay’s new film – or rather the last 45 minutes of it, because from the first shot of prologue onwards, the whole thing is nothing but climax – the director smashes two planets together, a catastrophe we’re told entails ‘casualties in the tens of millions’ as entire cities are gouged from the earth’s surface with the nonchalance of a fingernail running across a bar of soap.
“Critics aren’t supposed to get excited about ‘Transformers’ films, because they’re garish, pandering, chaotic, materialistic, hawkish and salacious – as if these are necessarily bad things – and just generally out to tear down the septième art as we know it. Well, sorry: if you’re not staggered by the technique on display here – the stuff that sets Bay’s work miles above the Fast & Furiouses, X-Men: Apocalypses and Tom Cruise-chasing Mummies of this world – you’re not paying attention.”