Review: The Exhausting, Weaponized Stupidity of ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ (2017)



Two hours into a ‘Transformers’ movie, something happens to me.

It’s like this every time.

Sometime after the fifth giant action sequence and before Optimus Prime makes his speech to the Autobots I start to question everything. Is it hot in here? It’s really hot outside. I know that. 117 degrees. No joke. Maybe the air conditioning isn’t really designed for temperatures like that. Not in a theater this big. Was it this hot at the beginning of the movie? When was the beginning of the movie? One hour ago? Three hours ago? It’s so hard to say. Time doesn’t mean much any more. Nothing much means anything any more. I don’t know if this is ever going to end. I’ve kind of resigned myself to it at this point. That point came way earlier. The numbing complacency usually kicks in sometime after the second slow-motion explode-a-thon and the third incomprehensibly bad John Turturro appearance (He’s in Cuba this time. ) So where was I? What’s happening?

Oh yeah. It’s really hot. Was it this hot earlier? I take off my hat. Maybe that will help. On the screen two submarines are crashing into each other while robots hold on and have an underwater fight. I don’t know which robots. I tried to keep up. I really, really did. (At one point there was one called Nitro Zeus.) Was this guy to my left always taking the whole armrest? Why didn’t I take that aisle seat when I could have? Because the showing is in 3D, that’s why. What are you gonna do? Sold out show. I got there three hours early for the advanced screening. Thought that was enough. It was, but only barely. By the time I got in, only thing available were the first two rows or the third row on the aisle. 3D is so bad on the aisle. I decided on the middle of the second row. Bad idea. Because I can swear this guy to the left of me is taking way more room than he did before. Sold out show. We have no luxuries like buffer seats. No press passes this time. No roped-off area and last-minute arrivals.

Tonight I’m one of the people.


And why? Why am I doing this? Again.

My buddy is to my right. We have seen every Transformers movie in the theaters together. Well, almost all of them. We didn’t know each other for the first one, but every one since the second one ‘Revenge of the Fallen.’ We always just call it “the one with the really racist stereotype robots.” (After this one, I don’t think we’ll be able to use that anymore.) What’s that famous saying about soldiers? “You fight for the guy next to you?” That’s why I’m here. We started something damn it, and we are intent on seeing it through. And every time we say the same things. We say “never again.” We lament why we wasted our time. We hope in vain that there won’t be a sequel (there will be. There will always be more. I’ve accepted that by now.) When did the last one come out? 2014? Is there some kind of scientific psychological study that says it takes approximately three years for the memory of Transformers trauma to wear off? It’s possible. So much of this film seems designed by algorithm. It’s like an aggregate of Earth’s psyche was analyzed and an advanced AI spat-out a self-replicating bouquet of jingoistic despair and fart jokes.

The guy to my left is definitely taking up more space than he was before. My legs are getting uncomfortable. Left Seat Guy is what they call “manspreading” (I read that in an internet article last week. Makes sense.) So I “manspread” back. I cross my legs. I forgot that I took my hat off. I’d set it in my lap. Now it falls on the ground. I doubt the cleanliness of these floors. There are so many kids here. Kids spill soda. That’s at least 35% of what kids do in movies. I don’t want my hat down there. I look for it. So hard to see with these dark 3D glasses. I take them off. Still can’t see the hat. Damn. I’ll have to wait until the movie is over.


I look at the screen. Optimus Prime is riding a three-headed robot dragon. He says “I’m Optimus Prime” like… four or more times in this movie. I’m serious. My friend and I can’t stop laughing. He just said it again. Now that’s five times. We know you’re Optimus Prime, dude. That’s maybe the only thing we know any more.

There was a point I thought this might have been a good movie. Stay with me now. I actually kind of liked ‘Dark of the Moon.’ Although I think I mostly liked it because I had just visited Chicago for the first time before seeing the movie. And it’s set in Chicago. So it was really cool seeing a city I sort of recognized being demolished. I even got to see them shooting it a little bit when I was there. I mean sure it wasn’t great, but it also wasn’t as aggressively dumb as ‘Revenge of the Fallen.’ And really at that point my expectations were as low as they could be. Even the last movie ‘Age of Extinction’ wasn’t completely terrible. It had T.J. Miller. He’s always hilarious. And Dinobots.  And I started this one with a little hope. I knew it would be dumb and too long. Still… it could be okay.

And frankly for the first three minutes I thought I might really enjoy this. It starts with King Arthur and the Knights of The Round Table fighting off barbarian hordes. Swords clash, catapults explode. I start picturing how cool it would be if Michael Bay directed a medieval movie. Or a fantasy movie. Michael Bay Dungeons & Dragons?

Then it happens. Stanley Tucci playing a drunken Merlin comes on screen and starts belching and making terrible jokes that the audience thinks are just hilarious. There it is. This is a ‘Transformers’ movie. I almost forgot. Then a giant robot introduces yet another artifact of great power which must not fall into the wrong hands and will save the planet.

This movie is monumentally asinine. The plot consistently contradicts itself. There is frustratingly bad writing (Vivian needs to find something in her father’s study. She doesn’t know where it will be, only that it’s a place where only she would be able to find it. Her and Marky Mark tear apart the study, destroying everything – there is a bit about the stuffy British ladies downstairs thinking it’s them getting it on – then after they destroy the study she says “perhaps it’s in my secret hiding place.” Spoiler! It is!)


One of the most frustrating things about the characters is that they are barely characters at all. Mark Wahlberg’s Cade is an inventor. In ‘Age of Extinction’ he actually invented things. In this film his role is relegated to yelling at CGI robots and being the eponymous Last Knight (which means something I guess. Mostly it means that he uses a giant sword during small part of the endless crescendo of climaxes which make up the unbearable final act of the film.) Cade doesn’t use what he knows to save the day. He uses his connection to a MacGuffin. Same with Laura Haddock’s Vivian (The New Megan Fox Replacement who bears a striking resemblance to a younger Angelina Jolie.) Vivian is a highly-educated professor who is never called upon to know anything. Her job is to wear tight dresses and be related to Merlin so that she can use the other MacGuffin.

But look… You’re not here for any of that are you? This movie is critic proof. You know it’s going to be bad. You just want to know how bad. Well reader, it’s pretty bad. Is it however devoid of merit? Depends of what you mean by merit. Have you ever wanted to see Academy Award winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins in a car chase driven by a brain-damaged butler robot voiced by ‘Downton Abbey’s’ Jim Carter rapping Ludacris’s “Move bitch, get out the way?” If the answer is yes, boy do I have the movie for you. Have you wanted to see a baby Dinobot pterodactyl carry a bottle of Bud Light to Marky Mark with the label facing the camera in an almost satirical example of product placement? How about a robot t-rex vomiting out a car?

The movie has to be almost over. It has to.

This is the seventh climax. I don’t know what to tell you about the plot. What does it matter? What does anything matter? You’re going to see this movie. Everyone is going to see this movie. We never had any chance. Even if you don’t see it in the theater, it will be on Netflix someday. Or it will be playing on hotel room cable. There is no escaping it.


Why are these movies always so long? I fully believe that if this film were two hours, heck even ninety minutes, it would still make as much money. And these movies can’t be cheap. The Michael Bay machine employs some of the most talented second unit directors and CGI artists in the industry. The money is on the screen. Maybe it’s just the formula. Maybe they’re afraid that without the multiple ending action sequences or the pretty girl who is just there to be pretty or the dumb John Turturro bits or the exact same speech Optimus Prime gives in every film… maybe they feel the magic would be gone. Is it magic? It feels more like dark science. It feels like The Algorithm is laughing at me.

The house lights come up. The movie isn’t even over yet. It’s as if they’re trying to save us. Optimus Prime’s voice over starts. I know this must be the end. It’s bright in here now. I look on the ground and find my hat. Thankfully it’s not covered in soda. The credits start. I start to leave. Over the credits there is a cliffhanger for a sequel. Of course there is.

There will always be a sequel.

My buddy and I will be there. We have no choice any more. We deserve this.