Last night, Prime, several of our friends and I headed down to Milwaukee for a special IMAX 3D showing of Transformers: The Last Knight. Now, rather than do a traditional movie review, I’m going to break the film down into the good, the not so good, the big damned emotional and then render a final verdict. Roger Ebert I’m not, nor do I ever intend to be. I just want to make that clear.
Be warned: there are some spoilers within. If you don’t want to know any plot points of the movie, do not go any further. With that said, let’s roll out! /Optimus Prime
The Autobots are now hunted and in a state of disarray, following the disappearance of their leader, Optimus Prime. Prime has left Earth in order to find his creator(s) but what he finds may spell the very death of planet Earth…
The Good: First off, it was good to see Cade back. That little thread of continuity still stands. It was also good to see that most of the remaining Autobots from Age of Extinction were still around and kicking, as the ‘bot body count in these films can be obscenely high. Speaking of Bots, seeing Grimlock again was great; he had a great and very funny scene that involved a local sheriff’s patrol car.
We were also able to catch up with Lennox and Morshower; it seems perhaps NEST might still be up and running in some fashion despite the government no longer working with the Autobots, which was good to know. Even better? We had a few appearances from “Agent” Simmons; he’s hanging out in Cuba with Topspin. Again, it was really good to have a little catch up time with some of the previous characters; a lot of loose strings were left hanging after Dark of the Moon. But we also had some new additions to the cast.
One of them was Cogman, who acts as a butler of sort to Sir Edmund Burton, Anthony Hopkins’ character. This little guy–referred to as a Headmaster(!)–has a smart mouth, anger issues and an attitude to boot. He’s proper and polite when he needs to be, but he’ll be just as polite as he’s trying to resist the urge to crush your windpipe. He easily got some of the best lines in the film and I took a pretty heavy liking to the little guy.
Oh, dear Primus, we also got baby Dinobots! We are talking some heavy-duty cute here! In every scene which they appeared, they stole the spotlight. Also, the Decepticons got their own introductory scenes, which was a really good touch. It made them a lot easier to identify, as the only returning ‘Cons were Barricade and Megatron.
We also got a new villainous human organization known as the TRF. If you needed a reason to hate humans, well, you have one now. It also doesn’t help that they are backed by the governments of the world and that most people can’t stand Cybertronians. Yeah, my liking of humanity took a bit of a nosedive with this installment.
The Not-So-Good: TRF was more of a distraction to me than actual villains. They actually detracted from the Decepticons and to a lesser degree, the main Big Bad herself: Quintessa, the “creator” that Optimus was seeking. Having another human team that decides all Cybertronians are evil whole cloth is just a bit tiring, as we’ve had it before. (Cemetery Wind, anyone?) It also doesn’t help matters when they decide that it’s a good idea to work with Megatron. (Yeah, like that would never blow up in anyone’s face at all!) If the film had stuck to one villainous team, then things might not have felt so jarring to me. However, my biggest problem was the story retcon.
Apparently, Transformers have been on this planet since the Dark Ages. Bumblebee–and Hot Rod as well–served during WWII. I’ll let that sink in.
Now, I personally have no problem with Bumblebee wandering on planet Earth for decades. He was sent here ahead of the other Autobots to find the keeper of the Allspark. That’s pretty much a well known bit of mythos. I can’t help feeling that this film saying, “Cybertronians have always been here” takes away from that a bit. It’s a minor, nitpicky thing, I’ll be the first to admit–but I also admit that I’m not the biggest fan of retcons in general. To each their own. I guess if John Barber could still write tie-in in-betweener comics–nothing movie-related from IDW since Dark of the Moon–he’d spin a tale that would convince me…
I was also hoping for a bit more with Nemesis Prime and Quintessa. I couldn’t help but feel that they should have been the mainline focus of the story with the Decepticons getting their share as the secondary Big Bads. Seeing Optimus Prime turned towards evil has been done before and there was a lot that could have been done with it, but that took a backseat to other aspects of the storyline. To me, that was a shame.
BIG DAMN EMOTIONAL SCENE: How does Optimus Prime shake the influence of Quintessa? How does Prime remember who he is and realize what he’s doing is completely wrong? It just takes Bumblebee speaking to him to snap him out of it. And what Bumblebee says is pitch damned perfect; he reminds Prime that they are friends. He swears that he would give his own life for Optimus Prime. There are massive shades of Attack of the Autobots here, which I thoroughly loved. To say I damn near dissolved into a sobbing heap doesn’t even begin to describe the emotional impact of what happened. This moment is pure Bumblebee awesomeness; if you know anything about the character, it’s absolutely perfect. That moment alone is well worth the ticket price. Well, at least it is for me but then again, I’m a Bumblebee fanatic.
The Final Verdict: Is this worth the ticket price? I give it a yes. The action is great and the story has its bright spots. You also don’t have to know a lot about the first four movies to go and take in this one. High art, it is not, but it is a lot of fun and a really great bit of escapism. Recommended.