Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) Review

Michael Bay has wholeheartedly devoted himself to making films from the perspective of someone with dementia. In the Transformers franchise, we have had the pleasure of witnessing ten years of a mind that seems to be slowly decaying but still technically functioning. Transformers: The Last Knight isn’t the worst Transformers film in terms of sheer boredom and duress, but it is the most sloppily constructed mess of a film I have ever witnessed. Films that are told in chronological order that are somehow harder to follow than Memento are a big red flag for me, as they should be for anyone.

Gratefully, this is an improvement on Age of Extinction, the last abomination to come from the whirling depths of Bayhem. This is mostly due to it being mercifully the shortest sequel of the series, though it still clocks in at a hefty two and a half hours, although I can’t stress enough that out of all the series so far, this is the most technically nauseating watch so far. Christopher Nolan has experimented with switching between aspect ratios to some success, although I struggle to not find the experience distracting on a normal TV screen. The last Knight, however, switches religiously between three different aspect ratios (2.39 : 1, 2.00 : 1 and 1.90 : 1), essentially between a standard letterbox, an IMAX ratio, and one somewhere in between. It’s incredibly distracting due to the movie being cut like an Olivier Megaton film but with the addition of cycling these ratios between cuts. Never before has a screen seemed so restricting.

This is all is part of what is responsible for the utter lack of intelligibility on display here. Visually the movie is bewildering, which means that when the dialogue and plot are asking to be listened to, it’s already too late. It also doesn’t help that the film is written seemingly by a 7 year old fan who has played too much Grand Theft Auto. Expletives are supposedly punch lines in and of themselves, but no one told me. I don’t believe I summoned any laughs that indicated I appreciated the humour, instead chortling at the sheer misguided spectacle of it all.

Mark Whalberg reprises his role as Cade Jaeger, still giving a worse performance than Shia LaBouef in my honest opinion. Why is it that he is allowed to do his voice from The Happening here and not get relentlessly chastised for it? Laura Haddock is the resident Michael Bay eye candy, along with Josh Duhamel for the ladies — returning to the role of Colonel Lennox for the fifth time. Anthony Hopkins appears as a British Transformer expert that is clearly very much enjoying picking up a big juicy cheque in his old age. I don’t blame him, but a small part of me is against it. I hate other people having fun.

The plot is beyond hard to regurgitate for you, which is usually a good indicator that a film has some deep seated issues. From what I can decipher, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) has been turned into an evil version of himself by Quintessa (Gemma Chan). This was a big selling point of the trailers and the way it actually comes to fruition here is the least cathartic drivel I have ever seen. God I love a good marketing ploy.

Beyond that there is definitely something here about knights, talismans, somewhere in here is a guy who is actually the titular last knight, I remember a robot dragon, also a bunch of elderly women spying on some girl supposedly having sex, and a robot butler (Jim Carter) that actually was funny on the off occasion but I struggled to make sense of what Bay actually wanted his character to be.

So what I can see here, is an amalgamation of ideas that one person or perhaps a few thought would make a good movie. These ideas were then taken and endless action scenes woven around them. These scenes would then be recorded by hundreds of cameras so as not to miss a single second of the delicious mechanical practical effects. I’ll stop being facetious for a moment to deliver much needed praise here, the actual staging of the action set pieces are impeccable, as is standard for a Bay flick. The man has talent there is no denying it, but somewhere along the line this immense practical vision he has is being distilled into a crooked mess of nuts and bolts. I want him to be an advisor on these things. It worked with Zack Snyder on Wonder Woman, it could work here. These movies don’t have to be bad at all, in fact I see great potential for these as summer blockbusters, if only.

Again, I left the viewing fatigued and wondering how on earth I was going to do this the next time the series rears its ugly head. I don’t really know and I don’t think I ever will, it is already a testament to human resilience that for ten years these films have successfully raked in dollar after dollar. Enough to justify exorbitant spending and still make a worthwhile profit. I’m not going to tell anyone not to see this if they are a Transformers fan. Knock yourselves out, if you wanted to boil down this review into an ‘is this for me’ summary then I’ll just say, this is pretty much what we’ve seen happen four times before now. Think you can fit another one in your life?

2/10

 

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Review

Here it is. This is the definitive “Lord of the Rings” as cinema has decided to depict it. No, it still isn’t faithful to the books but we’ve established this. Taken on its own or with respect to the first two parts, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” is probably the most consistently entertaining picture that spans a length of 200 or so minutes that you are ever likely to see. You know how I said “The Two Towers” was better than “Fellowship of the Ring“? Well this one dwarfs both of them.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) Review

Having read Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” I knew that the Hobbits would be separate from the slightly taller members of the Fellowship for the whole film. Also, knowing a lot less of this film would be spent travelling I was confident that the Hobbits would get some of their own screen time as the unlikely heroes in a world filled with treachery. Sadly I was wrong — The Hobbits are almost nowhere to be seen for a majority of the adventure. I can’t pretend I’m not upset that they have been pushed aside like the little folk they are, but in what has been provided to replace them is certainly interesting and better in almost every way than “The Fellowship of the Ring”.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) Review

“I feel thin. Sort of stretched… like butter scraped over too much bread.” — Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo Baggin’s seems to be speaking on behalf of “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” with this line. The first of the blockbuster epic franchise, and what was surely the hardest of the books to film. In Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” the most distance is covered by the Fellowship and Frodo goes to many different locals that are each fully fleshed out and serve to establish the expansive world of Middle Earth. In this adaption of the 1954 novel, the Hobbits and their allies in the Fellowship go to far less places, and spend far less time in each. The film can’ t accommodate for the grand scope of the novels, even with the concessions made by Peter Jackson. Each location mainly serves to create some sort of action set piece that is usually very impressive, and the feeling of the start of an epic adventure is what makes the first part of Tolkien’s film trilogy truly worth your time.

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Armageddon (1998) Review

“Time to Kick Some Asteroid” — what a tagline eh? And Good luck to them. I would have thought that if you flew up into space and actually tried to kick an asteroid, you’d probably break your toes (depending on how much effort you put into it). What would be the point of kicking an asteroid anyway? Are you just trying to vent your frustration at the prospect of it destroying your planet? Maybe somebody disliked the unnatural look of the big hunk of rock, or perhaps the birds of the world will rise up to defend their Jurassic ancestors. That’s right, birds still feel the burn of their closest relatives. In “Armageddon”, it wouldn’t matter if the… “astronauts” were sent up to simply kick an asteroid, Michael Bay would still find a way for them to save the planet with a good old punt. Such is the way of it with “Armageddon”, realism itself is booted out the window faster than you can say “Shia Labouef” and it will infuriate some to no end, but it does help to create a mildly entertaining movie that unfortunately overstays its admittedly muted welcome.

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Transformers (2007) Review

I think I’ve been in the room whilst “Transformers” was on about 6 or 7 times since it was released, I know the whole movie but I’ve never sat and actually watched the entire thing from start to finish (I’m sure a lot of people have had this experience with at least one movie). So I thought “Hey let’s give that one a shot” because I thought you couldn’t really go wrong with a blockbuster to waste a few hours of your time that could be better spent wasting away on games and daydreaming. Well… I guess I was kind of right, I mean, it could have been worse, right?

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Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) Review

“Guardians of the Galaxy” presents new ideas to the blockbuster strategy, or at the very least, Marvel’s take on how to effectively make blockbuster movies. With “Guardians” we see that Marvel doesn’t just insist on playing it safe with their tried and tested franchises, namely anything to do with “The Avengers”. I knew before sitting down to watch the film that if it is received positively by the general audience then perhaps more than just Marvel studios will be given the green light to really try something new and to at the very least be able to take themselves less seriously once in a while. If the optimist inside hadn’t shrivelled up and wasted away whilst watching “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, I would tell you that “Guardians of the Galaxy” is sure to give way to a glorious era of a new breed of blockbuster, which is still recognisable as such with the action and the visuals but with just more of a difference. Whether it will or not I can’t say, but “Guardians of the Galaxy” is certainly different and refreshingly so, fingers crossed for the future.

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