‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Second Review


Our Rating

Childhoods ruined2

Robots in disguise… Should probably stay that way…

With transformers now illegal on Earth, and the heroic Optimus Prime lost somewhere in space, a new threat emerges that ties together an English lord, inventor Cade Yeager, an Oxford professor and an orphaned child, as well as revealing an unknown history of transformers and their visits to Earth…


The ‘Transformers’ franchise is an odd beast. On the one hand, all five movies, with the slight exception of the first outing in 2007, have been critically derided, and seen as evidence that director Michael Bay has no business behind the camera. However, at the same time they’ve all made obscene amounts of money, with ‘The Age Of Extinction’, entry number 4 in the series, being the highest grossing movie of 2014, helped in no small part by its popularity in the rapidly growing Chinese market. And while critical acclaim is nice, huge amounts of cash in a film companies bank account is better. Which is why we arrive at number 5 in the franchise, the mysteriously titled ‘The Last Knight’. Early word suggested some sort of tie-in to Arthurian legend (I’m not making this up), and this was confirmed (yes, really!) as production progressed, along with an exploration of the ‘secret history’ of transformers on Earth. Why?, I hear you ask. Well, your guess is good as mine. Perhaps Bay watched  Excalibur’ one night while drunk, and thought to himself “I can do that, only better. And with giant robots…” That would certainly make sense. The idea that people who’ve been involved in making movies for years, regardless of quality, would dream up such an absolute pile of garbage without being absolutely hammered just doesn’t bear thinking about…


Optimus Prime in TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, from Paramount Pictures.

Even for a movie series about giant, talking robots that can transform into a variety of objects, the plot for this one is hard to get your head around. Essentially it breaks down like this:

  • Transformers have been coming to Earth for centuries
  • They’ve allied with humans to protect a staff, once given to Merlin
  • This staff was stolen from Cybertron (the transformers  homeworld)
  • Earth is actually the ancient enemy of Cybertron
  • I’ve now gone cross-eyed…


Hot Rod in TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, from Paramount Pictures.

Plot has always been an issue for the ‘Transformers’ series. The first movie basically didn’t have one, at least nothing more involved than ‘big robots come to Earth and fight over a thing, humans get caught up in it’. This probably explains why it’s the best of the bunch, as it’s not confusing or hard to follow, the only real issues being a lack of character development (particularly for the transformers themselves) and poor script which makes certain characters look like prize-idiots (John Turturro’s Agent Simmons being a prime example), as well as being full of scenes and dialogue that just never ring true, even taking into account the sci-fi fantasy world it’s set in. However, the subsequent entries in the series, rather than addressing the ongoing script issues, have taken the relative lack of spectacle to be the main problem, and have upped the ante in that department with each wretched instalment. ‘Revenge Of The Fallen’, for instance, gives us ancient Cybertronians travelling the galaxy, before coming to Earth for their final battle. We also get a globe-spanning story, fan-favourite characters being poorly used, and a finale to causes untold damage to the Egyptian tourist industry. That was followed by ‘Dark Of The Moon’, which featured a plot that completely undermines the first two films (watch them back, and you’ll see what I mean), before engaging in more ridiculous spectacle, this time involving the near-total destruction of Chicago. ‘Age of Extinction’ goes even further, if that’s possible. The plot is almost a re-boot, with humanity somewhat angry with transformers, and most of them in hiding. Naturally this doesn’t last long, and we’re soon back to massive battles and untold destruction of property,  but involving a whole lot more transformers, many of whom have been made by a human corporation determined to exploit the technology, while not fully understanding the ramifications. Possibly the most honest thing in the whole series…

Mark Wahlberg plays Cade Yeager in TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, from Paramount Pictures.

Something about this series that always raises an eyebrow is its casting. In amongst its humdrum leading men and women (Shia Leboeuf, Mark Wahlberg and Megan Fox, that’s you I’m talking about) can usually be found a surprising amount of genuinely talented, not-to-mention award-winning, actors and actresses. The following people have all appeared at least once across this series: John Voight, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Kelsey Grammar, Ken Jeong, Stanley Tucci, Sophia Myles, Patrick Dempsey, Titus Welliver, James Bachman, Li Bingbing, T.J. Miller. ‘Dark Of The Moon’ also features Buzz Aldrin (yes, that Buzz Aldrin) in a small cameo, so as to give credibility to its moon-landings themed story. That such talented people can be coerced into appearing in these films can only be down to the money they will earn and the exposure such roles generally bring.

Left to right: Sir Anthony Hopkins as Sir Edmound Burton and Hot Rod in TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, from Paramount Pictures.

It sure-as-hell can’t be down to the scripts, which are, as suggested earlier, pretty awful. And ‘The Last Knight’ is no exception, somehow managing to squeeze no-less an acting giant than Sir Anthony Hopkins in amongst the shouting and explosions. Hopkins himself recently admitted that he had no idea what the film is about, which suggests he at least approached proceedings in the right way, i.e. speak the lines and bank the cash. The nominal lead this time around is Mark Wahlberg, at his least charismatic and likeable, who just tends to shout at people (and robots), while the viewer wishes he’d stick to the outright comedies that have become his forte in recent years. He’s joined by relative newcomer Isabela Moner as a clichéd tough-kid-growing-up-alone-who-just-needs-a-hug and Jerrod Carmichael as his assistant, who just spends his relatively short screen time panicking. It’s not a dignified performance. The leading-lady role is filled by Laura Haddock, a rising star who’ll be instantly familiar familiar as Peter Quills tragic mother from the ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ series. Haddock actually acquits herself quite well in what is normally a pretty thankless role, which is mainly down to some uncharacteristically strong writing, which gives her stuffy, emotionally closed-off academic a fair bit to do, rather than just stand around waiting for Wahlberg to sweep her off her feet. Indeed, most of the time it’s Wahlberg who’s the one waiting to be told what to do, as Haddock and Hopkins set about working things out. And the afore-mentioned Agent Simmons (still John Turturro) also turns up, for what I can only assume is a contractually obligated appearance.

Left to right: Laura Haddock as Viviane Wembly and Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager in TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, from Paramount Pictures.

I won’t lie, for the most part this is a dreadful film. It’s overlong, incoherent and relies far too much on spectacle and SFX at the expense of plot and structure, while presenting characters that are thinly drawn and hard to like. Accusations that can be levelled at all the films in this series, if I’m being honest. And there is one common factor in all this: Michael Bay. From his first feature film (‘Bad Boys’ in 1995), it’s been clear to all that Bay is a director who glories in the true spectacle that cinema can bring. His films are full of impressive action sequences, fast-paced editing and state-of-the-art special effects, usually allied to a thumping soundtrack. Orange filters and shots of flag-waving are also ubiquitous. It’s just a shame that he doesn’t extend this affection to plot and storytelling. Taking into account my comments about the first movie, all the other movies in this series have the kernel of an interesting plot hidden away somewhere. Unfortunately, Bay chooses to smother them with his trademark spectacle, leading to reviews like this. Consider other films he’s made, such as ‘Pain & Gain’ (2013), which takes a real-life murder case and turns it into a knockabout comedy focusing on stupid body builders. Or ‘The Rock’ (1995), arguably Bay’s best film, which actually makes a very interesting point about the way governments treat their military veterans, before losing interest and allowing Nicolas Cage to overact until his head comes off (possibly). It should be clear to anybody at this point that Bay should return to what he’s best at, directing music videos, but as long as his films keep making money that’s unlikely to happen. Which is a shame…

Left to right: Mark Wahlberg and Director/Executive Producer Michael Bay on the set of TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, from Paramount Pictures.

I briefly considered writing this review before seeing the film, and I’m pretty sure it would’ve turned out exactly the same. I once described the second film in this series as ‘like spending time in a dark room, with a person sitting on your right who’s constantly shouting in your ear and person sitting on your left who’s repeatedly dropping pieces of scrap metal in a large metal bucket’. To be honest, that description could apply to all five films (even though I don’t mind the first one). Despite getting a couple of marks for the admittedly excellent effects work and a decent performance from Haddock, ‘The Last Knight’ is a bad film. And it almost certainly won’t matter. If the others are anything to go by, it will shrug off the terrible reviews and make a ton of money at the box office, and before you know it we’ll be doing this all over again for ‘Transformers: Flogging A Dead Horse’, or whatever they end up calling it. And we’ll only have ourselves to blame…



About author


Long-time fan of all things geek-related. Comics, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, Warhammer, video games, mythology, you name it, I probably like it. This also extends to pro-wrestling and heavy metal, hence the name. Particular loves would be the Star Wars sage, Game of Thrones (books and TV), Judge Dredd, Assassins Creed, and many more. Born and raised in Essex by parents who have broadly supported these passions over the years, so much so that they now share many of them.