Where does one even begin with a movie like this?
(For what it’s worth, I just stared blankly at my computer for 20 minutes after writing that first sentence before writing this one. Who knows how much longer I might sit here, wordless.)
(It was 15 more minutes.)
Transformers: The Last Knight should be treated as a marathon of your own sanity. This is a film that will try to gaslight you into doubting your own memories. I will offer an example: In The Last Knight, a big plot point is Bumblebee trying to get his real voice back. (He’s spoken in radio sound bites since the first movie because his voice box has been broken.) And Optimus Prime makes a point to say he hasn’t heard Bumblebee’s voice since back on Cybertron. But that’s not true because Bumblebee got his voice back at the end of the first Transformers movie, but that fact is just forgotten for this movie because literally nothing matters.
I’ll admit, I’ve been dreading the thought of trying to at all explain the plot of this movie – even in broad, simple terms. I honestly had anxiety dreams last night about this moment. It’s like staring at a projected kaleidoscope for two and a half hours and then trying to tell someone about the plot. But, yes, here we go:
Transformers: The Last Knght opens with King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table involved in a battle it appears they can’t win, until a Transformer dragon shows up and saves them. (Let that sentence sink in.) You see, Merlin (played by Stanley Tucci, who, yes, has already been in these movies as another character) doesn’t really know how to do magic – his secret is he stumbled upon a group of Transformers and they gave him a special staff. (I’m never going to make it through this review.)
The movie then shows us text that says “1600 years later,” to let us know we are back in the present. Do you remember the end of Transformers: Age of Extinction? Even though you saw that movie, you probably don’t. At the end, Optimus Prime leaves to confront “his maker” and is now floating through space. Oh yeah, that’s another thing: Optimus Prime is barely in this movie. There’s one stretch of well over an hour in which he’s not in the movie at all. This movie is being billed as a fight between Optimus Prime and Bumblebee – and that fight does, briefly, happen – but the reality is Prime is barely in this movie at all. If you like Transformers movies because you like Optimus Prime, just be prepared.
Mark Wahlberg is back as Cade Yeager, who now protects the Autobots (Transformers have been declared illegal by “the world”) at a junkyard in South Dakota. The Dinobots live there, too. And now there are baby Dinobots, who are cute but there’s literally not one explanation as to why these baby Dinobots exist.
Okay, I’m going to get to the gist: everyone wants Merlin’s staff. That’s “the thing” everyone wants in this movie. At least I think. And there’s also the plot point of what’s left of Cybertron hurtling through space on a collision course with Earth. (This was also done in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but that was a portal. You see, this is different because this time Cybertron is skipping the portal and just coming through space the old fashioned way. So, yes, it’s a completely different plot.)
I haven’t even gotten to Cogman yet…
So Cogman (a robot butler of sorts who is a little shorter than a human being) hunts down Cade and his friends (which includes Jarrod Carmichael, who I wish was in every scene of this movie; and Isabela Moner, who plays a teen runaway) to bring Cade to England to meet with Sir Edmund Burton – played by Anthony Hopkins, who a) I don’t think bothered to learn quite all of his lines and b) appears to be having the time of his life. Burton has brought together Cade and Vivian Wembly (Laura Haddock) – a professor at Oxford – to find Merlin’s staff. Vivian is picked because of her knowledge and Cade is picked because a medallion has attached itself to his arm. (You’d think there would be more of an explanation to the last part of that sentence, but there’s really not.)
Also, I hope you enjoy Cogman because Cogman is in this movie more than any other Transformer. Twitter has already had a lot of fun with Cogman, simply because there’s a new Transformer that’s a butler and his name is Cogman. But I don’t think Twitter realized just how much Cogman we’d be getting. Or that Cogman has a personality disorder and describes himself as a “sociopath.”
Okay, I’m going to be honest: I really don’t know what this movie is about. After it ended, a colleague sitting to my right bluntly said, “I don’t get it.” These are movies with robot dinosaurs. In theory they should be fun, not headache-inducing noise machines. (And don’t get started on the whole, “Well, I bet the fans will like this movie.” My screening was filled with fans and they were mostly silent. Just a smattering of a few claps after the movie ended.) It’s one of those movies that is silly enough at first that it can be a little fun to gawk at the ridiculousness of it all, but at just under two and a half hours, it’s unsustainable. It just makes you tired. And by the time the submarine battle happens (there’s a submarine battle and no Transformers are involved) I just wanted to rest my eyes.
It’s almost like Michael Bay does these movies because he can’t turn down the money, but goes out of his way to make them more and more incomprehensible just so he won’t be invited back to do another one, but then they make a billion dollars and he’s always invited back. It’s like Michael Bay can’t screw these up, no matter how hard he tries. Maybe Michael Bay is God – or, at least, immortal. I’ve never seen anything like it.
I have no proof Transformers: The Last Knight will kill your brain cells, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it does and I’d proceed with caution just in case. But I can say with absolute certainty that after watching, your head will hurt. If that’s from newly killed brain cells, well, we still have to wait for the lab results. But what Transformers: The Last Knight does prove is nothing matters anymore. I saw this movie. You will see this movie. Everyone will see this movie. And we will all be dumber together.
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.