Transformers: The Last Knight

Suffers from the same amount of murderous bloat and cringe-inducing robot dialogue that passes for humor, but this is strangely Bay's most watchable entry since the 2007 kickstarter. The plotting is still absurd but sketched out with a modicum of focus and competency others have lacked - especially the god-awful Age of Extinction - digging roots into history, some real and others mythic, that attempts to lend itself a heft that it frankly doesn't need and shouldn't be striving for. And on a related note, why are these movies so goddamn solemn? Why So Serious, Bay?

This is a franchise spawned from an excellent child television property in the 1980s, which in turn got its start from a toy line emanating from Japan that was nothing short of genius. Bay's films almost without exception lack the very thing that made the OG so special: joy. Sure, I'm not naive enough to look past that the 1980s version was also at bottom just a launching pad for merchandising, but as a kid who experienced it and has revisited it with adult eyes, there was something tingly infused in its bones. Something that rose above and ultimately transcended its consumer pretensions. It was the theme, the rollouts, the pared down heroism vs villainy, the personalities, the stakes, the melodrama, the transforming. All in all, a superlative melange of more-please. Is this all just nostalgia-covered glasses? Could be, but I'll stake my claim in their ineffable charm and originality to this day. Bay should have all he needs to bring this to the table, lord knows that VFX has caught up with what was once only possible in 2D animation, but he's so caught up in inflating his efforts with endless action scenes, dour grandiosity, juvenile humor and proxies for goddamn car commercials that he can't see what he has. In a bizarre sort of coincidence, the subtitle of this film prognosticated the arrival of a director on Bumblebee who finally saw the forest for the trees and delivered on this series' potential. Transformers: The Last Knight isn't the worst dreck of the franchise smeared in the eyes of an increasingly cynical and fatigued general audience, but even the most die-hard Bayhem enthusiasts should have been ready to admit it was time for these films to undergo a transformation of their own.

Clayton liked this review