Hasbro’s toy franchise known as “Transformers” originally came to popularity in the early 1980’s, over 30 years ago. All along they have remained relevant with multiple generations of children, teens and adults. So relevant in fact that the 2007 release of “Transformers,” the first Michael Bay directed film in the franchise, was a huge success. Over the past 10 years, the five movies Bay has made for the Transformers franchise have had increasingly negative reception. Partially to blame is the series continuation even after losing star actors Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, and failing to replace them with consistent and likeable new stars.
The franchise marched on however, with Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) becoming the new lead protagonist in 2014 and returning for this summer’s “Transformers: The Last Knight.” However, Cade nor any other recognizable character can be seen in the opening minutes of the movie. Rather, Last Knight opens on a Dark Ages battle featuring King Arthur and the round table knights squaring off against invading barbarians. In an attempt to save his people, the wizard Merlin seeks the help of a Transformer. This opening scene of historical relevancy to the Last Knight plot is referenced back to multiple times.
Once the battle comes to a close, the film jumps 1600 years into the future to present day where Cade is living in hiding, working as a caretaker for his Autobots. At this time we are also introduced to a young girl, Izabella (Isabela Moner), who he watches over after her parents have passed.
Meanwhile, Optimus Prime arrives back on his home planet, Cybertron, to find it destroyed from years of war. Optimus meets Quintessa, a being capable of controlling Cybertron. Quintessa puts Optimus under a spell, and convinces him to lead an attack on Earth so she can pull power from Earth to restore Cybertron. Later, Quintessa also claims Earth is actually Cybertron’s longtime enemy, Unicron. Megatron becomes involved working for Quintessa as well, leading Cade and Vivian (Laura Haddock) to fight back in defense of Earth while also attempting to bring Optimus back to his senses.
With any action packed summer blockbuster, the movie can be different things to different people. Those who watch “Last Knight” simply because the trailer lead them to believe it was a high budget action movie, will likely be thrilled, though somewhat confused by the deeper plot. However, the longtime Transformers fans who pack the theaters looking for a great story, true to the long running plot lines, will be disappointed.
The Transformers plot has faced multiple flaws in the last 30 years, but it seems the longer Michael Bay remains involved, the more ridiculous things become. In 1986, the animated theatrical movie “The Transformers: The Movie” was released to positive reviews. One of the main antagonists of the 1986 film is the transforming planet Unicron, who is also a large topic of discussion in “The Last Knight.” Quintessa tells Prime that Unicron is actually Earth, though anyone who watched the classic movie knows otherwise.
In “The Transformers: The Movie” all three planets, Earth, Cybertron, and Unicron are all displayed, making it very clear Unicron is not Earth. Either Quintessa lied to Optimus the entire movie without the plot ever pointing out her deception, or Bay lazily recycled an already established name from the franchise.
No doubt, there is a lot of action and quality special effects to enjoy in “The Last Knight” for those who have no interest in the franchise’s continued story line. For the true Transformers fans, it may be difficult to understand why Bay would so clearly flaw the ongoing plot through usage of multiple lead protagonists who make no reference of one another. Regardless, while not perfect, it may be nice to simply sit down and feel the nostalgia that comes with seeing the toys of your childhood on the silver screen once again.