Transformers: The Last Knight (2017): How Much Must I Explain?! *SPOILERS* (Well, Sort of) (Plus Rant on Aspect Ratios)

 

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“Transformers: The Last Knight” is directed by Michael Bay and it is the fifth installment in Michael Bay’s “Transformers” series. I mean… People probably knew this was gonna happen… The last film didn’t get good reviews… But it made a lot of money… (Sigh). This film stars Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh DuHamel, and Isabella Moner in yet another movie called “Transformers” and yet the main focus is directed towards the human characters, so ultimately this movie should be called “Humans: The Last Knight.” All in all the plot to this film (laughs), is that humans and Transformers are fighting each other. Optimus Prime, who is one of the Transformers, is not on Earth. Apparently, the key to preserving the future is in the past, the past of the Transformers on Earth that is.

If you want to know my personal thoughts on Michael Bay’s “Transformers” series, I think some movies are good and some are forgettable. I also feel that if a certain installment in the series is bad, there are still glimmers of enjoyment which I can grasp out of it. I have not seen 1986’s “Transformers: The Movie,” which has no relation to Michael Bay’s series, so I can’t judge that apart from this. Even though I can enjoy at least some parts of any Bayformers film put in front of me, one of my biggest complaints, in fact a number of people’s biggest complaints, is that they are kinda the same. Sure, a couple things have changed over the years, but formula-wise, it’s similar from movie to movie. There’s always an important entity, it’s probably gonna have some impact on the movie in one place or another. You’ve got your human characters, if there is a girl who is a main character, they need to be f*ckable, those people need to be introduced. You’ve got the military and the government or some big organization, perhaps a company, they need to be introduced. You’ve got Transformers, they need to be introduced, throughout there’s some action, explosions, visuals everywhere. I’ve definitely seen worse layouts and I do enjoy stuff that has similar layouts from one installment another, most notably TV shows. As a kid I watched “Power Rangers,” right now I watch “Family Guy,” and pretty much every single sitcom on TV might have a similar layout. Does this layout work? I guess, but even “Fast and Furious,” a series which just had its eighth installment come out last April, knew when to change things around. There’s some similarities from movie to movie, but they spiced things up from time to time. They still have all the street racing stuff, but they focused on it less in later installments and instead focused on all sorts of action-packed popcorn movie s*it. How was this movie in the very end? Honestly, it was awful. Just simply, awful. I think Michael Caine’s interpretation of Alfred Pennyworth said it best in “The Dark Knight…”

“Some men, just want to watch the world burn.”

I guess after watching this so-called “film” I now realize I’m clearly one of those people. Somebody get me a flamethrower and I’ll begin burning my house down!

Alright, where were we? Oh yeah, we’re still on the same topic. After watching this movie, I honestly think that basically a lot of people behind the project think there is no other idea to take on other than the same one every single time. I can accept a number of TV shows being extremely formulaic, it works there, it can give off a consistent vibe from episode to episode that way you feel like you’re watching one show as opposed to another. These movies although, need to change. In some ways, there was change brought to this one, but the change as a whole just happened to be simple tweaks. The overall story and formula however are considerably similar.

The main character in this movie, Cade Yeager, is played once again by Mark Wahlberg, who was actually introduced in “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the franchise’s fourth installment. Why was he introduced in that movie? It’s kind of interesting actually. If you are familiar with these movies, mainly the first three in the series, you may know that there was a different lead instead of Mark Wahlberg, that lead being Shia LeBeouf. He left because he thought there was nowhere to really take his character for a fourth installment. He enjoys working with Michael Bay, but he felt he should leave. Anyway, Wahlberg personally was a more fleshed out character in this movie as opposed to the last one, although not entirely because he still does that thing where he constantly brings up the fact that he’s an inventor. Also, he’s kind of a badass in this film, the first scene with him, is fun to watch. Speaking of repetitive behavior, and this is something that is not entirely a fault of Wahlberg, he once again has to shove BLATANTLY OBVIOUS product placement down our throats. Now I bet you’re wondering if the product placement was as excessive here as it was in the previous film? Not really. Sure, it’s there, but it’s not a near 150 minute commercial break.

Remember this? If not, this is the Bud Light product placement featured in the previous film. Overall, it is probably up there with the most obvious product placement in movie history.

One of the characters I’m desperate to talk about is the character of Izabella, played by Isabella Moner. This is the first “Transformers” film featuring this character and when I saw a trailer for the film featuring her, I thought this was quite a turn when it comes to Michael Bay. Why? Because of three girls who go by the name of Megan Fox (played Mikayla in Transformers 1 & 2), Rosie Huntington-Whitely (played Carly in Transformers 3), and Nicola Peltz (played Tessa in Transformers 4). What do these three girls have in common? Well, they’re basically sexualized in the prior “Transformers” films. After watching all of the prior “Transformers” films, these women did turn me on in some way or another, but sexiness is probably the only redeeming quality for these characters, as characters, much like a number of other characters introduced throughout the series, the overall characterization for them was pretty weak. You can argue Megan Fox’s character did s*it, and you’d be right, just watch the finale for the first movie when she was driving a vehicle and Bumblebee was on it, but her doing all of this s*it isn’t really something that many people recall her for. I mean, these characters in my eyes were primarily sexualized, although they were never naked or anything, so I can’t really say kids should stay away from the past films, but this is something I wanted to spit out. Going into this film, I thought this new character was gonna be a much more progressive character that females, specifically those in the younger demographic, can aspire to be. Also, she was a bit younger than some of the girls we got in the past, so I didn’t really expect many ass and cleavage shots on this girl. Now, how was she in this film? As far as acting ability goes, she wasn’t bad, and that says something because there aren’t that many girls, mainly including the recently mentioned sexualized girls, whose acting ability stood out in the previous films. This girl did do some s*it, not really as much as I expected, but still, she did some s*it…

Ah, who am I kidding?!

Yes, it is true. Isabella Moner’s character did some s*it, but the typical Michael Bay sexualization was in this movie too! No, the sexualization is not directed towards Moner’s character, instead, it is directed towards Laura Haddock’s character. This character goes by the name of Vivian Wembley. How was she sexualized? Well, when we first meet her and she’s walking around, she’s in this dress, it almost looks like something you’d wear if you’re going out to a fancy restaurant in a major city and it happens to be a special occasion. We don’t get any shots of her where the camera gawks at her butt or boobs or anything, but I think at one point multiple characters are in a room with her, the girl’s attractiveness is brought up by someone, possibly Wahlberg’s character. Could’ve been more than one person, I don’t know. Perhaps it could’ve been nobody and I’m just imagining things. Although that just goes to show you the quality, or lack thereof, of this film. One thing I also noticed from this character, is that compared to all of the other sex objects featured in the series thus far, is that this one’s considerably smart. So yeah, you can say as far as sexualized characters go, this one is not as stupid as some others. I mean, I’m not saying sexualized characters in general are brainless, they’re just not as smart as this one, at least from what I’ve observed throughout the film.

You can argue that due to her intelligence, she’s not a sex toy, but I ain’t buying your arguement. If Michael Bay had at least one sex object in each of the previous “Transformers” movies, would it really be that shocking for him to insert one in this movie?

I just realized how much my reviews are like these movies, the Transformers aren’t getting much of a focus. Well, that changes now, because we’re gonna talk about Optimus Prime. I’m gonna invent a new term, and hopefully I’ll have it patented before Cade Yeager from this movie does, and I’m gonna call it the “Reverse Jared Leto Joker.” Why is that? Because you barely see both characters in their individual movies. Not to mention, they were featured as a key role in various forms of advertising. In 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” you see the Joker throughout a good chunk of the movie’s beginning, once the movie advances past the halfway point, you see him less, then you get to the end of the movie where he just pops up. This happens here too, but in reverse. You see Optimus in the beginning, his main contribution to plot begins, we get introduced to a character who goes by the name of Quintessa, he gets put aside for about a half of the film, then he comes in at the end and stays on camera for the rest of the movie. By the way, Quintessa, that character I mentioned earlier, honestly may have one of the WORST voices I’ve ever heard from a character. I mean, if the voice was normal and no special editing was added to it, it would have been fine, but this voice, if it makes any sense, sounded kinda rumbly. I went to see this movie with my father, and when we left the movie and we were in our personal vehicle together, I described her voice as “degrading.” Like, as in, in terms of the character’s sanity, and perhaps to my own sanity. Speaking of sanity, we’ll get to a couple of moments where I nearly lose my sanity a little later on. But before that, let’s talk about one of the movie’s redeeming qualities.

What is the redeeming quality I’m referring to? A better question would start with “who,” but still. I’m talking about Jim Carter’s character of Cogman. This is the first movie in the series featuring this character, and out of every single character made for the purpose of comic relief, this may be the best one of all when it comes to Bayformers. At one point, another character refers to him as a discount C-3PO, which had me laughing, and believe or not, I was probably the only person laughing at that out of everyone in the theater. Another lovable moment from this character is when a bunch of people are talking, I remember it being key to the overall plot. During the scene, you have the score going on in the background, then we go up to Cogman breaking the fourth wall. How so? By playing the organ which goes along with the score. He’s told to cut it out and then he says that he’s trying to make the moment more epic. Then more talking ensues, and he just starts vocalizing. I don’t recall seeing that type of humor anywhere. The closest I can say that has come to this, is during one scene from a “Family Guy” episode called “Baby, You Knock Me Out,” at one point, Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” is playing in the background in a way that no character can hear it, much like the recently mentioned score in this movie. Then suddenly, we cut to Peter Griffin who starts singing the lyrics of the song until Quagmire comes in and pushes Peter out.

Admittedly, as I much as I hated the crap out of this movie, the humor is something that is somewhat pleasing at times. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it fails, but there are moments that had me laughing. This has also been something that has happened in other “Transformers” installments as well, whether it be during action sequences or when people are randomly talking.

Also to make sure I can keep a focus on the topic of the movie’s robots, you may already know one of the series’s recurring characters is Bumblebee, so let’s talk about him. There’s not really much to say about him honestly. He’s just here because, well, he’s a main character. The only thing that Bumblebee adds to the film is one segment having to do with his voice and the fact that he’s in many scenes, including fights.

On the subject of recurring characters, Megatron is also in this film. Honestly, the only stuff I remember vividly from this character is from the beginning. Speaking of that, I actually want to dive into specifics there. One thing I noticed during the start of the film is that a bunch of the Decepticons were getting introduced, and the way they were introduced may have been helpful because if you look at a bunch of Decepticons standing right near each other, they look pretty similar. That’s a plus, but part of me wonders if this was inspiration from last year’s “Suicide Squad.” This isn’t a huge complaint of mine and it’s more of something I am curious about. If you look at a bunch of the Autobots, the robots in the movie who fight for good, as opposed to the Decepticons in the film who fight for evil, the Autobots vary from one another in terms of personalities, quirks, and colors. All of these factors probably make it easier to get attached to them and appreciate them more when they go up against the Decepticons and attempt to take them down.

There’s also this one character I want to bring up. He’s a scientist, I don’t give a crap about his name or an image for him. Because for one thing, I don’t recall his name, and also if this movie has the right to be lazy then why can’t I have the right to laziness? Anyway, the point is, there’s this scientist who appears in multiple parts of the film, he’s trying to convince people the way to solve this whole war on Earth is through his particular scientific viewpoint. A sixth “Transformers” is going to be made without a doubt, and I already know they’re making a “Bumblebee” spinoff, so if the sixth installment actually happens, or if the spinoff takes place somewhere in modern times, here is something I’d like to see. There’s a battle taking place somewhere, maybe a city, which in my eyes would my preferred choice for this. The scientist is running around the city, Hound, an Autobot played by John Goodman, who is also known for playing Coach Harris in 1984’s “Revenge of the Nerds” could get a glimpse at him and shout, “Nerd! Nerd! Nerd! Nerd! Nerd! Nerd! Nerd! Nerd! Nerd! Nerd!” which if you watch the movie, is almost similar to a constant chant given off at multiple parts of the film. He could also look at the scientist and simply say “Goddamn nerd,” or “What a nerd,” or “I wanna find his frat house from when he went to college so my pals can take it over.” This doesn’t have to be with the scientist, this could be with someone else that’s nerdy, maybe even a group of nerds. Perhaps for the next movie, the casting crew could ask if several cast members from “Revenge of the Nerds” could make appearances as people running away from destruction and Hound happens to be right near them.

Remember the sanity thing I mentioned earlier? Because now we’re gonna get into a complaint I’m not surprised I’m bringing up, because after watching the first trailer for this movie, this annoyed the hell out of me. And this is also a complaint you probably wouldn’t hear from many people. That my friends, has to do with the aspect ratio. When my dad and I were leaving the theater, we start talking about the film and I bring up this particular complaint. He asks what an aspect ratio is. Since he asked that, I might as well explain it in case you are wondering what an aspect ratio is as well. An aspect ratio is essentially how high or wide an image will expand. It doesn’t necessarily depend on the size of your screen, it does however depend on your type of screen.

Let’s say you own a modern day flat screen TV, the aspect ratio for that would be 16:9, which can also be referred to as 1.78:1. This aspect ratio will allow you to watch all of your shows in a widescreen format that covers the screen from both top to bottom and left to right.

Now lets take this CRT TV shown above. This was the big thing before flat screens and HD became a household necessity if you will. These TVs are presented in a format called 4:3, which is also referred to as 1.33:1. This format is also often labeled as “full screen.” If you watch something in widescreen on here, it wouldn’t feel as authentic as opposed to watching it on something with an aspect ratio of 16:9 or wider. Nowadays, they’re still making DVDs, but it is an overall rarity to find one that comes out with an option to watch in full screen. It’s usually just widescreen, because tube TVs aren’t cool anymore. If you find a DVD in the widescreen format and play it on a device hooked up to a tube TV, chances are you will find some black bars on the top and bottom of the screen, which is sometimes called a letterbox. The only way to get rid of those black bars (depending on what you’re watching and TV or device settings) is to change the picture view settings or switch the settings to stretch the top and bottom portions of the image. Varying on the content, the black bars could still be visible even with the settings change, and the image would, based on what you just did, appear stretched out.

Wow that was a long rant. Worth it. Sorry if I bored you, but I assure you that rant was ten times as entertaining as “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Sticking with my main point, there are multiple aspect ratios in this film, and there have been films in the past that have done this, including 2 other installments in the series. The second and fourth. As far as the second one goes, I don’t remember where the aspect ratio changed. The aspect ratio changes didn’t bother me much in the fourth one when I watched it, but I wonder if my opinion would change now. In this movie, the aspect ratio changes between almost every single shot on screen! It’s just HORRIBLE to watch at times. I may have tuned it out a couple of times, but when I noticed it at times, it somewhat pissed me off. In fact, when I watch movies that have different aspect ratios, it’s usually only two ratios featured in the whole thing. Let’s take “Interstellar” for example. Much like this film, this was partially shot on IMAX cameras. The types of cameras were specifically different from each other and the footage shot with them was presented not so similarly on screen, the IMAX screen to be specific, but still, that’s how they were shot. In “Interstellar,” there’s a scene where multiple characters are on a distant planet, tensions start to increase at the spur of the moment. That sequence was shot in IMAX. Then we cut to a situation on Earth, tensions increase there as well. Although that is being shot with a different camera, a 35mm camera to be specific. The different situations are cut from one another back and forth and it is all shown using their respective camera in order to build up to where the movie goes next. That film was directed by Christopher Nolan, who has also used the IMAX camera for other purposes in his films, such as certain sequences involving action during “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” Here though is a different story, I can just imagine that someone thought it would be fun, either the editor or Michael Bay to just play around with aspect ratios and be inconsistent with them! It’s just so jarring! It makes my head EXPLODE! There were even moments I noticed where the aspect ratio would be one thing, then it changes to something else for literally less than a millisecond, and the next thing I know I’m looking at another one! I’m just glad I didn’t notice absurd quick cutting or I probably would have ran out of the auditorium screaming! The worst part about this is that this is not only something that applies to the IMAX Experience. One movie I went to see multiple times in the theater is “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.” It had most of the movie shot with 35mm film and nearly 5 minutes of footage shot in the IMAX format. When seeing this film in a regular theater, the aspect ratio stayed the same the whole time. However, during the escape from Jakku scene, the IMAX Experience changed the aspect ratio. Although I went to see “Transformers: The Last Knight” in a regular theater, so this was utterly displeasing to look at.

Simply put, this aspect ratio bulls*it may be some of the WORST editing I’ve ever seen in a movie. There’s this other movie I reviewed earlier this year called “You Can’t Have It,” if you haven’t seen it, or even heard of it for that matter, I wouldn’t be too surprised. Nevertheless, I mentioned earlier this year when I reviewed that film that the editing was awful there too. Although instead of video, this had to do with audio. The levels from shot to shot in particular scenes was overall pretty infrequent to the point where it got annoying. The video wasn’t spectacular either because I noticed multiple jumpcuts, and I actually recall seeing one in this movie too. So yeah, that’s something these two pieces of garbage have in common. (Sigh)

One thing that usually doesn’t disappoint me in “Transformers” is the action, and while it was fun to watch, it honestly wasn’t enough to save this disaster of a movie. During action sequences, there was some enjoyment to be had, but also a big question to be asked. That question being, “What is happening?” I cannot even believe I got bored watch all of this s*it go down, it made me think that out of all the “Transformers” movies, this is the film in the series that I would probably put on at night when I go to bed and I need something so boring it’ll make me fall asleep. This installment in the series would probably do the trick. Oh yeah, and what was the other thing? Oh right, THE ASPECT RATIOS KEEP CHANGING!

I know I’ve been going on forever, but I need to talk about one more thing before I deliver my verdict to you all. There’s this YouTube channel you may be familiar with called Channel Awesome, one of its most popular series is the “Nostalgia Critic,” which is done by a guy named Doug Walker. One of his most recent uploads is called “Transformers: The Last Knight NON-Review.” In this video, he mentions that he has done a tradition which he reviews each Michael Bay “Transformers” film that comes out, but right now, he wonders what’s left to talk about it that’s new. With that being said, he decided he wouldn’t review the new movie and instead he attempted an “artistic experiment” which features him predicting the overall structure of “Transformers: The Last Knight.” After watching the movie and this video, Doug pretty much nailed the entire structure, there may be some differences here and there, but this prediction was overall pretty much the entire movie. If you’re reading this and you haven’t seen the movie but watched the video, I probably just spoiled the movie for you, same can also be said if you decide to click on the video from here. I just thought I’d share that because this was an interesting experiment and it reveals a lot about how similar these “Transformers” movies really are when you compare them with one another.

In the end, “Transformers: The Last Knight” sucked. I liked numerous segments of the film, but to me, various segments aren’t enough. Not to mention, we are once again being exposed to yet another copy-paste story and structure. I briefly brought up the whole, oh my, it’s the last “Transformers” thing, but let’s face it, it most likely won’t be, which is another thing I absolutely hate about this movie. There’s a scene shown during the credits that might contain some key info that might be covered in the future. I don’t mind seeing another movie, well, sort of, as long as they try on the next one, but I don’t like liars. Maybe Michael Bay won’t direct it and he’ll hand it off to somebody else, perhaps they could do better. As far as blockbuster films go, this one fails on so many levels, and it did not need to be like this. I’m gonna give “Transformers: The Last Knight” a 3/10. This is my score because while I did enjoy some things in the movie, there were a lot of things I didn’t enjoy. I seriously wonder if my score will be lower in the future. Only time will tell. Last year that happened with “Suicide Squad” and “Independence Day: Resurgence,” so we’ll see. Thanks for reading this extremely long review that ultimately has more effort put into it than “Transformers: The Last Knight” itself. Either listen to everyone and stop making these movies, or listen to everyone and either make a good movie, or a movie with a different formula. Even better, a good movie with a different formula. Thanks for reading this review, I’m not sure yet what my next review will be, but I’m thinking maybe “Baby Driver” or something like that, we’ll find out where the road takes me. Stay tuned for more reviews, along with other content that I assure you has greater quality than “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

 

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