After four films where critics hated it but the audience showered it with money, The Last Knight broke the trend by not being showered with money. Opening weekend was projected $70 million but the film barely reached the $65 million mark (depending on what source you consult). Worse, half a dozen movies hit $100 million on opening weekend, suggesting the Transformers movie franchise peaked and is starting to wear thin. The state of Michigan, which is financially suffering from ill-fated politics, donated $21 million in incentives for production. Cuba offered tax incentives for one actor to appear in a number of scenes while “hiding out in Cuba,” and the country of China (which seems to own half of Hollywood today) insisted on blatant product placement in return for box office returns. Michael Bay and the producers will certainly make a tidy profit from International theatrical release but dismissing the business end of production, the movie is wearing a bit thin.
Most notable is the transformation scenes — many of which were utilizing less sophistication than usual. In the first movie of the franchise, the most awe-inspiring visual effects were the intricate and complex transformation of car parts shifting into place as if a robot entity was really transforming into an automobile. Whether this be a cost-cutting measure for visual effects or simply to speed the pace of the story remains unclear, but the transformation scenes seem a bit rushed. Worse, Megatron now talks with moving parts that look like computer CGI and not automotive parts shifting back and forth.
The story of Transformers on Earth during the crusades has been kept a secret and the past meets the present when Optimus Prime, having discovered his planet is destroyed, is convinced that Earth now belongs to the machines. Convinced by the veil Quintessa that the humans are now secondary and to retrieve her staff is essential in her quest for domination. Optimus is now “Nemesis Prime,” working against the humans, unaware that Earth is actually Unicron and the fetching of the staff will lead to his own demise.
What makes this film less than stellar is the pacing. Explosions, action sequences and special effects get confusing, the lead actress (who is a Megan Fox lookalike) and a young Latino to please demographics throws the story off the wrong track. I knew who Megatron was, Bumblebee, Hound, Optimus Prime and the Dinobots were, but the rest went by too fast. One gets the idea that Michael Bay had three separate scripts and blended them together into one movie, with careless editing. I lost track of who was who and with the exception of Anthony Hopkins (the best part of the movie) I had no feeling for any of the characters. They could have died during a battle sequence and I would not have been moved.
No doubt the next Transformers movie will feature Mark Wahlberg, and maybe the Megan Fox-lookalike, but at this point, I will be satisfied if they stop making movies in the series. If the story is not being dragged out and stretched beyond a four-movie premise, the action is too much. I really want a story next time.