Michael Bay's fifth Transformers movie, The Last Knight, arrives on blu-ray this week to bring the destruction, mayhem, and King Arthur (yes, really) legend into your home. Is the new release more than meets the eye or should remain on the shelf? Check out my full review to see.
Like many other films this Summer, Transformers: The Last Knight is one I missed in theaters when it released. I remember reading the initial reviews and criticisms, but with a pair of kids enthralled with the Robots in Disguise, I knew I'd have to check it out at some point. Despite the negative responses, I was still hopeful for a bit of dumb fun. While this did happen, the film still ultimately feels like a missed opportunity.
The story picks up a few years after the events of Age of Extinction, where Cade (Mark Wahlberg) is hiding out with the remaining Autobots to keep them from being hunted down by the government. At this point, all Transformers have been made illegal on Earth, and they're being rounded up to be imprisoned.
Meanwhile, Optimus Prime has left Earth to travel through space (something he did at the end of the previous film) and back to Cybertron. He wants to meet his "creator" and....do something. His overall goal isn't fully clear in the film, and I don't remember Age of Extinction well enough to remember his reasoning. Regardless, his plans go awry and the evil/all-powerful Quintessa turns him into a 'villain' who works for her.
This sounds pretty interesting, right? Sadly, this whole evil Optimus subplot is a TINY part of the film and story. After his capture on Cybertron, you don't see Optimus until the final act of the film, and even then this plot point is resolved within about ten minutes. Frankly speaking, I think Optimus Prime only had about 20 minutes of screen time in the film; so little it the subplot seems completely irrelevant.
The rest of the story circle around the King Arthur legend, where in Cade and the last living descendant of Merlin has to find the "Staff of Merlin" which is actually a powerful Transformer artifact. Yep, this film dives deeper into the alternate history stuff, wherein Knight-like Transformers served King Arthur and were part of the Round Table.
Honestly, The Last Knight starts off strong, and it's unique take on King Arthur really hooked me. I was way more invested in the story and action than Age of Extinction...but the film doesn't seem to know what to do with itself. The film starts with a new character, a young girl meeting up with Cade, but she's quickly forgotten until she randomly shows up in the final act; doing little more than reminding audiences she was a part of the story at some point.
The Dinobots who seemed to have an important part in the last movie? Well, they show up again for one action scene near the beginning and then are forgotten about as well. The Last Knight never figured out the kind of film it wanted to be, and the end result are a number of plot threads started and subsequently dropped. As such, the film meanders and between bot battles (which are still pretty to look at) you find yourself bored.
Frustratingly, it's the exact same problem I had with Age of Extinction. These cool ideas are mired in boring subplots that take up too much screen time and go nowhere. I wanted to enjoy this film, and the first 30-40 minutes are significantly better than anything the last few Transformers movies have produced, but it can't stick the landing. Getting to the end of the film with the kiddos felt more tedious than fun.
Sight and Sound
From a technical standpoint, I honestly can't find anything to complain about on the blu-ray. The picture is crisp, highlighting the continually impressive visual effects of the Transformers. The animation is smooth and there's a surprisingly deep color pallette that shines on the blu-ray transfer.
The sound is equally solid and despite all the big explosions everything felt like it was given proper priority on the soundtrack. I wasn't jumping to change the volume between scenes, which is SUPER important while watching these blockbusters with a sleeping baby nearby.
The Special Features
Transformers: The Last Knight comes with these bonus features on the disc:
o Merging Mythologies – Explore the secret TRANSFORMERS history
o Climbing the Ranks - Military training
o The Royal Treatment: Transformers in the UK
o Motors and Magic
o Alien Landscape: Cybertron
o One More Giant Effin’ Movie
The featurettes delved a little deeper into the alternate history stuff, which I suspect will become an even bigger part of the upcoming Transformers movies (especially the solo Bumblebee prequel), along with a look at how the film brings these robots to life on the big screen. They decent enough bonus features, but frankly, my disappointment in the film itself brought my interest in behind the scenes stuff down.
Considering how big a deal they've made of the Transformers writer's room, with release dates for multiple sequels, and filming having started on the Bumblebee spin-off a couple months ago it's surprising they didn't have anything on the bonus disc related to those projects.