Transformers: The Last Knight hits theaters tomorrow and the first reviews have finally emerged online. It has been 10 years since Michael Bay brought Transformers to life on the big screen, and it has since become one of Paramount Pictures' most profitable franchises. Although each installment hasn't scored well with critics, they have each raked in hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars at the worldwide box office. Instead of bringing the franchise to its conclusion, Paramount has opted not only to continue producing sequels but also branch off into prequels and spinoffs as well.
Shortly after Bay's Transformers: Age of Extinction released three years ago, Paramount enlisted Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) to oversee the franchise's new writer's room, which includes the likes of Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down), Art Marcum (Iron Man), and Matt Holloway (Iron Man). The Last Knight is the first movie to come out of the writer's room, and it effectively acts as a launch pad for the rest of the shared universe. Considering the writing team behind the latest film, many fans have been hoping that it'll take the franchise in a new direction. The question is, does it?
The first reviews for Michael Bay's Transformers: The Last Knight have emerged online, and they aren't looking good. The general consensus seems to indicate that, while the movie isn't as convoluted and messy as previous installments, the latest release squanders promises made by the studio to take the franchise in a new direction. However, some critics say that it does successfully leave the door open for more sequels. Below are some SPOILER-FREE excerpts from the first reviews.
Variety - Owen Gleiberman
“Transformers: The Last Knight,” the fifth film in the hugely popular, critically reviled franchise (has there ever been a movie series that put the red state/blue state divide between audiences and reviewers like this one does?), is also the most extravagantly brutish and lurid. There’s still a PG-13 gee-whiz-ness to the proceedings, but the towering, swivel-socketed machine men now seem like they’ve been around the block a few times, complete with pit stops at the race track and dive bars.
Polygon - Julia Alexander
Transformers: The Last Knight is two-thirds of a decent summer blockbuster, but the final act is complete garbage. The last act, which almost feels like it belongs to a separate movie, isn’t just boring, but it’s redundant to every other Transformers movie. If you’ve seen any of the franchise’s films in the past decade, then you’ll already have an idea of how Transformers: The Last Knight ends. Director Michael Bay relies so heavily on doing the same thing — working the same plot that we’ve seen in other Transformers movies, using the same slowed-down cinematography that grows more frustrating and eyeroll-inducing with each frame — that it’s easy to forget how enjoyable the first two-thirds of The Last Knight are.
The Wrap - Alonso Duralde
There are a few action sequences of shocking coherence in “Transformers: The Last Knight,” the fifth of Michael Bay’s clang-clang-clang-went-the-robot adventures, but fear not, fans of the franchise: if you’re here for the director’s trademark chaos editing (where fights go from points A to D to Q), toxic masculinity (and female objectification), comedy scenes rendered tragic (and vice versa), and general full-volume confusion, you’ll get all those things in abundance.
THR - Frank Scheck
The sprawling action includes a flashback depicting the Transformers battling Nazis and an explosive battle at Stonehenge that keeps you on the edge of your seat with concern for the ancient stones. And while there’s no shortage of large-scale set pieces, the storyline provides so many opportunities for attempts at droll humor, most of it involving Hopkins' dotty character, that the proceedings start to resemble drawing-room comedy. It’s all an overstuffed mess, but that was true of the previous entries as well, and audiences obviously don’t seem to mind.
EW - Leah Greenblatt
Bay has always been a champion of shock-and-awe spectacle over storytelling, a defibrillator jolting volts of pure, uncut action until somebody cries uncle. In rare moments, he does attempt to inject a little sense and context into the franchise’s frenzied mash of Hasbro-toy kitsch and blockbuster bombast (Decepticons, apparently, eat Da Vinci Codes for breakfast, and something Fast and Furious for lunch.) True fans probably don’t need the tangled universe of good versus evil explained to them: Bionic aliens rumble; ancient monuments crumble; guys in the middle of robot Armageddon deliver wry one-liners. That’s just what you do when things go boom.
Deadline - Pete Hammond
Ultimately this is, as always, all about the Transformers, and fans won’t be disappointed. One thing you can say for Bay is he gives the audience what it came to see and knows how to get on the largest screen imaginable.
IGN - Gav Murphy
Michael Bay has now been making Transformers films for more than ten years. In that time, the series has moved on very little and The Last Knight is the loudest and most explosively dull instalment yet. A recycled plot told through an overly on-the-nose script, read by a confusing parade of characters, and muddled action scenes does nothing to justify its epic length.
The Verge - Megan Farokhmanesh
One thing you can say for Michael Bay’s work: it’s consistent. Bay’s name on a film project guarantees a fast-paced story filled with explosions and visually arresting action happening almost too fast to track. So it’s no particular surprise that Transformers: The Last Knight — Bay’s fifth Transformers movie in 10 years — unapologetically offers more of the same. It’s a quintessential summer film: a big-budget romp requiring low brain activity. Even viewers who’ve never seen a Transformers movie before will kindly be handed everything they need to know in the first 20 minutes. Bay only asks that the audience shows up with enough fortitude to sit through Last Knight’s two-and-a-half hour runtime.
Recently, there has been a trend of actors and filmmakers claiming their movies are meant for the fans and not critics. While that may be true in some regard, there's no denying that those movies have missed a certain level of quality. However, if there's any franchise that can actually prove it has been made with the fans in mind and not critics, it's Transformers. Regardless of how well the movies have done critically, they have always been wildly successful at the worldwide box office.
Despite these reviews, Paramount already has plans to continue with next year's Bumblebee spinoff, which is being directed by Travis Knight and written by Christina Hodson, as well as potentially move forward with more than a dozen more franchise installments. Whatever happens, though, it appears that Transformers: The Last Knight marks the last hurrah for not only Michael Bay but also Mark Wahlberg.
Source: Various (see links)
- Transformers 5/Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) release date: Jun 21, 2017
- Bumblebee (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018