Quick Hit: A movie that is exactly what you expect it to be.
Not too long ago, I maligned some of the typical Michael Bay characteristics that make a movie a “Michael Bay” film. One of the reasons that he came to be so known is his interest in the Transformers series – one that has continued for ten years, and continues to spiral into greater and greater explosive finales. This film is really no different, and I didn’t expect it to be. I knew what I was getting going into it – explosions and giant fighting robots that turn into fancy fast cars.
And you know what? I did not leave the theater disappointed in this.
The movies that are the most difficult to grade are ones that are like this. The movie obviously knows the expectations of its audience going in. There is no real plot, instead only consists of events that occur that help people move around the globe (in seconds) and around the Universe. We are treated to extraordinary practical effects, slow motion camera work, and CGI robots that will be comedic relief as well as action stars. So is it wrong to malign the movie if it accomplishes everything it sets out to do?
Maybe a little, but it’s hard to stand firm on that. If I set a goal to run a mile in eight minutes, and I accomplish that goal, does it matter if I ran it on my hands? No – it just changes the way you have to view the accomplishment a bit.
So, with all that, I’m going to say that there are many things that you would want to see this movie for. First, the aforementioned slow motion camera work and practical effects are extremely superb. It’s a terrific combination of sweeping camera shots at times that allow us to really feel present with the Autobots at times. Along with that, the imagery that is brought to the movie in the beginning with King Arthur, Merlin, and the round table is terrific. There’s really a lot to like about something that combines the technological advancement of the Transformers species with the medieval period of man. It’s a bit of a disappointment when it comes back to present day.
As far as the human actors, Mark Wahlberg is convincing, if not particularly developed as a character dedicated to protecting the Autobots. Laura Haddock is now present and is quickly shoved into a role as a British descendant of Merlin (no really) that is working at a museum? A school? A university? They call her professor, but the first time we see her she is leading a museum tour. She’s really nothing spectacular throughout the film. Young Isabela Moner does make an impression, almost reminding me of Logan’s Dafne Keen with her fierce intensity.
The clear stand out is by far the doddling Sir Anthony Hopkins. Somehow managing to walk the line between an old man that we feel sorry for, and a man that we long to be, Hopkins allows himself to be both a stand-in for audience members and a constant expositional delivery system. Despite this, he is consistently the most interesting person on screen, and is always either setting up for a joke or a serious moment of delivery. This tonal disbalance would be greatly mishandled in most hands, but somehow, Hopkins pulls it off.
I think the biggest issue with this film (there are a myriad of them, but I’m focusing in here) is the distinct lack of consistent Transformer fight scenes. I never thought I would be asking for the development of CGI’d robots, but I almost feel as if they played second fiddle here. Optimus Prime is probably only in the movie a total of ten minutes or so. But those ten minutes are fantastic, despite his frequent proclamations that oftentimes feel familiar to the first four movies.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention. There are so many elements from this film that are blatantly ripped from other films. The King Arthur scenes feel like a distinct drawback to Game of Thrones. The gritty feel of them also seemed reminiscent of the recent King Arthur. The Ceibertron ship is eerily similar to Arrival, and there is a villain introduction stretch that is exactly like the terrible beginning to Suicide Squad. I'm not sure whether or not all this was purposeful or whether it was blissfully unaware, but I just had to bring it up.
If you are looking for some popcorn fare for the weekend, and you’ve already seen Wonder Woman two or three times, look no further than this. It’s not bad, it’s not great, but it’s just good enough to turn your brain off and enjoy the fire. “C+”.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"