Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Transformers: The Last Knight

DIRECTOR:  Michael Bay  LEAD CAST:  Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock  SCREENWRITERS:  Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Ken Nolan  PRODUCERS:  Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Ian Bryce  EDITORS:  Roger Barton, Adam Gerstel, Debra Neil-Fisher, John Refouga, Mark Sanger, Calvin Wimmer  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Steve Jablonsky  GENRE:  Science Fiction, Adventure  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Jonathan Sela DISTRIBUTOR:  Paramount Pictures  LOCATION:  England, Scotland, Ireland, California, Arizona, Michigan  RUNNING TIME:  149 minutes
Technical assessment: 1.5
Moral assessment: 2
CINEMA rating: V14
MTRCB rating: PG
The fifth installment of the Transformers franchise, Transformers: The Last Knight retells the history of the series in a different light. The film opens in England in the Dark Ages, amidst a battle involving King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, establishing that once upon a time, the wizard Merlin was handed-over a powerful staff by the Transformers that time—which was instrumental in King Arthur’s victory over invaders. Hundreds of years later, the evil sorceress Quintessa sends the dark Transformer Megatron to find the staff, casts a spell on Optimus Prime so it would turn against mankind. In the present day, Transformers are being hunted down by the government, and Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is protecting the good ones like Bumblebee and the Autobots. Yeager eventually becomes involved in the hunt for Merlin’s staff, meeting Viviane Wembly ( Laura Haddock) and Sir Edmond Burton (Sir Anthony Hopkins) who both lead him into the discovery of his significant role in finding the staff –on which,  the final fate of the Earth and all humanity lies.
The film runs for two-and-a-half hours of convoluted plot without a sense of centrality and purpose as it jumps from one subplot to another. The explanation of the back story has taken more than half of its running time so nothing much is left for meaningful characterization, or at least a central tension to look forward to besides the motherhood doomsday sci-fi stereotypical of a plot. The film is nothing but a two hour and half full of ear-splitting noise and senseless battles. It seems that the filmmakers are themselves hardly convinced that alien robots would have a significant role in human history that it would really need a lengthy exposition enough to suspend disbelief of the audience. The fans of the series may not really care that much for as long as the high-tech visual effects (VFX) are shown along with all the spectacles expected of a Transformers franchise. But even the VFX scenes and transitions do not make so much of an impact—quite apparently in the heat of battle scenes, there is no single shot of both humans and VFX character in one frame. The two worlds and their spatial relationship are not clearly established.  so as to create the logical tension between the two. The alien robots who are supposed to be the titular protagonists and antagonists stay in the background with the humans at the center and heart of the story who are given more active participation in pushing the plot forward. Transformers: The Last Knight fails in its entirety for the lack of soul and focus.

Transformers: The Last Knight is a vague spectacle. So vague that even its moral underpinning is buried deep in the grandeur of its VFX minus a compelling story to ponder on. The film’s theme remains in its usual territory—the battle of good vs. evil. This time around, it is not only humans who are capable of goodness but alien robots as well. In essence, both humans and aliens are capable of being either good or evil. In the movie, the two forces unite to save the Earth from total destruction. It is inherent for humans to save humanity but for aliens to have a deep concern for humanity is not quite believable. However, the Transformers portrays it as possible—these robots, though non-humans have also the capacity to reciprocate goodness and fight dark forces if need be. The strange action of Optimus Prime at the start confuses the audience of its allegiance but the revelation towards the middle part explains it thoroughly. Although alcohol consumption is shown infrequently, it is taken lightly at the opening scenes, with Merlin the wizard babbling with inebriation. There are also highly suggestive shots of the young girl Izabella with her low-neckline shirt when she was running and a high-angle shot of her showing her legs spread and again the low-cut of her neckline. These scenes are unnecessary to the plot development and may leave a not-so-good impression on the very young.  The movie is not for very young audiences because of the use of vulgar language and graphic violence, so CINEMA deems it fit only for audiences 14 and above, preferably still with parental guidance.