Review: Transformers – The Last Knight
(M) Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel
Only having negative stuff to yell at the fifth Transformers movie is about as predictable as the fifth Transformers movie having stuff in it that only really deserves being yelled at. Negatively. Unless you are an easy-to-please young lad whose only criteria for an awesome blockbuster is that it includes Transformers, explosions and more Transformers and explosions, Transformers: The Last Knight is a (optimus) prime example of why we whinge about big-budget sequels. With a jaw-dropping plot, jarring excess and Sir Anthony Hopkins trying to explain how the Robots in Disguise actually link with King Arthur and dragons, the proud onslaught of silliness and spectacle cultivates the opposite of substance. And enjoyment. And engagement.
But having anything positive to suggest about the latest Transformers is, well, probably the most Christian thing I could do right now. So, here goes. As counter-cultural as Jesus telling the parable of The Good Samaritan (OK, maybe not as much as that), try this on for size: The Last Knight has hidden depths. And now that I have your attention…
Yes, it’s a huge, loud machine of uninspired sequel-ness but The Last Knight often lobs grenades about our yearning for family, our need for a hero, and why sacrifice is required for victory. Lead actor Mark Wahlberg’s interaction with orphaned teen Izabella (Isabela Moner) blares the “FAMILY IS IMPORTANT” trumpet as loud and proud as anything seen in the recent Fast and Furious movies. References to legendary heroes and their courage are steady throughout, from the misguided opening sequence about King Arthur and Merlin, to the bloated finale. And then there’s that repeated line: “There can be no victory without sacrifice.” How grand.
I said that this latest assault on the senses from director Michael Bay has hidden depths, yet here I am pointing out what crops up during the never ending saga of Cade (Walhberg) trying to save Earth – and his giant robot mates! Thing is, just because such provocative and potent subject matter drifts through The Last Knight doesn’t mean it adds up to anything of significance. Depths of emotional, intellectual or spiritual insight remain hidden by a slab of storytelling that stubbornly refuses to be more than one-dimensional and cartoonish. How frustrating! As soon as I try to grab hold of Transformers‘ portrait of family as a group bonded by shared values, priorities and love – a concept totally at the core of Christianity – I’m met with some juvenile joke, sleazy interaction or a demented, dwarf C-3PO.
I’m saying that some of the hostility and moaning already fired at Transformers: The Last Knight might come from disappointment. Yes, my friends, disappointment. It almost would be better if emotional, intellectual or spiritual nuggets didn’t even turn up in the Transformers behemoths. That way, I could go back to not expecting anything but Transformers, explosions and more Transformers and explosions.