Transformers: The Last Knight


Film Review |By Christian Tesfaye - Exclusive to Fortune



The latest in the Transformers franchise is another Michael Bay extravaganza, most pleasing perhaps to a 13-year-old teenager, according to Christian Tesfaye. 3 out of 10 stars


There was a time when my excursions to Edna Mall, to check out the latest movie, used to be the heyday of my week. And even if I did not like the movie, it was okay, because the next week, there would be another one.

It is not so anymore. I no longer have romantic inclinations – I no longer expect the best, instead I go there anticipating the worst. A mall, Edna Mall or other, after all, is just a mall, it would go wherever the money, however depraved and boring it may be, goes. Week after week, the films the multiplex screens are getting are worse and worse, with some very rare exceptions. This has been going on for a couple of years now.

It was back in 2014, when the previous Transformer movie was released, that I knew I would have to watch and review this one. Every sequel’s existence is heavily prevalent upon the commercial success of the present.

Transformers: Age of Extinction did make a lot of money, especially in China. The movie, among other things, featured a dinosaur Transformer. It was also loud, obnoxious and perfectly inept, which today is the key to making a lot of money.

Transformers: The Last Knight is the sequel some have been hotly anticipating, and I have been coldly dreading. It is directed by the same person that has helmed the franchise since its inception, stars a human character introduced only in Age of Extinction and features most of the Transformers popular throughout the film series.

The great warrior and leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime has left Earth in search of his creator, but Transformers continue falling out of the skies. A narrator asks – but why? A flashback takes us back to the early Middle Ages when King Arthur was fighting his enemies. About to lose the war, he is aided by Merlin’s mysterious alien friends, who are Transformers hiding on Earth. They give Merlin a powerful staff, which is hidden away after his death.

Sixteen centuries go by, and the Transformers have become ubiquitous. They are outlawed in most nations, except notably in Cuba, where they are free to play football. Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is similarly sympathetic to their cause, locating downed Transformers to fix them. Through uncomplicated circumstances, he finds himself in the company of a knighted British lord, Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins), who has been trying to find the Transformer’s staff.

Burton informs Yeager that only he and a direct descendant of Merlin could find it. They have to do so before the staff’s original owner, Quintessa (Gemma Chan), can get to it, the result of which would be catastrophic because she does not plan to use the staff to feed the poor.

Some directors, like the French New Wave directors, are auteurs. Others are visionaries – they may not be able to regurgitate a completely unique piece of art all by themselves, but, like the New Hollywood maestros, they know how to bring to life what has been scripted.

And then there are the average directors, who have no vision of their own, no point of view, no subjective understanding of the medium, no individual stylistic approach. They may have a hit or two here and there, but only because they are lucky to have gotten the right actor or script. But at the lowest reaches of the food chain, at the nethermost levels of ineptitude, there lies Michael Bay and a few perversely untalented like him.

Bay is every movie lover’s nemesis. No one wishes their death more intensely. For all intents and purposes, he is a video game director. He hates sophisticated characters, cliché-free scenes, virtuoso dialogue, inspired narratives or adult themes. He has a hard-on for explosions, the United States’ military power, glitzy cars and young, white, super-sexy actresses who cannot act. He has no place whatsoever in – not just serious but – mainstream cinema.

Bay knows this. He has his faults, but he also has no illusions about his talents. He knows he can never make a great movie and does not even waste his time trying to do so. It is like what he once told critics, “I make movies for teenage boys. Oh dear, what a crime!”

This admission is not made out of embarrassment but in defence of himself. He is right in that making bad movies should not be a crime, but wrong in thinking that just because something is not a crime, it is moral.

It is hard to criticise Bay, because, like no other filmmaker, musician, or writer before him, he himself has admitted that he is worthless. He does not make movies for any sophisticated human being, so when a critic says his movies are unsophisticated, it becomes an unnecessary recap.

So all I would say about The Last Knight is that it is a bona fide Bay extravaganza, with all the nuts and bolts that make a Michael Bay movie. It has sophomoric dialogue, a derivative plot and lots and lots of cars and explosions. If I was a 13-year-old teenager, I would love it too.



Published on Jul 01,2017 [ Vol 18 ,No 896]


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