You don’t have to be all that familiar with film reviews to know what a troubled past the Transformers series has had all along. I honestly can’t think of another film series that is so critically panned, yet so financially successful. No matter what reviewers think, people show up in droves to see what comes next. As a kid, I played with the toys, but prior to the films, I wasn’t overly familiar with the lore behind the toys and cartoons. Many say that these films don’t do true justice to such things, and they may be right; still, I just want to get coherent plots, characters I can root for, and something family-friendly, being that it comes from toys. I’ve been mostly let down by the films, thus far. Let’s start by briefly stating my feelings on the series, leading up to now:
- Transformers (2007) – While nowhere close to anything resembling perfect, I thought it started off the series… adequately.
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) – Wildly incoherent, stupifyingly offensive, & just a complete mess.
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) – Better sequel that felt like (and should have been) a series conclusion.
- Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) – Overall, this one just didn’t work for me on any level.
Mostly, I’ve enjoyed in part the first and third films (even when I felt they could have been made more appropriate for kids), but I’ve hated the even numbered ones. If that alternating “love/hate” pattern continued, I came into this fifth entry hopeful to at least like the film. Trailers, featuring an alternate history with Transformers lore, felt interesting, and I’m a sucker for Anthony Hopkins. Could it finally be that we get a GREAT Transformers movie?
No. No, it is not great. It’s not good. It is terrible. I won’t spend much time on this review, because it would be a waste of my time and yours. I watched this film, but you don’t have to. The plot follows an ancient order of “Witwiccans” (I’m not even joking), legendary protectors of the secret history of the Transformers. Anthony Hopkins’ character is the keeper of these secrets, and he enlists the help of Cade Yaeger (played again by Mark Wahlberg), as well as a skimpy-dressed professor (Laura Haddock). If my description seems overly objectifying, then watch the movie…or don’t. Please don’t. The need for this wrangling of Cade and Company is due to Optimus…err, I mean, Nemesis Prime, duped by Quintessa (Gemma Chan) on his return to Cybertron to return to Earth…I mean, Unicron, to strip it bare and start Cybertron anew.
Confused yet? Oh, you will be; that’s if you care about any of this or the people in the film. I didn’t. No one is likable here. Even Anthony Hopkins lost me. I don’t remember his character’s name, nor do I for any other new human characters. I mildly laughed at some of Hopkins’ lines, but those came very cheaply and crudely. You see, characters exist in this movie or return from sequels to really only deliver terrible dialogue. Stanley Tucci awkwardly plays Merlin (don’t ask, and yes, it’s that Merlin), and John Turturro returns for little else than to come back and say “scrotum” multiple times. After the wrecking balls joke in Revenge of the Fallen, you can see the modus operandi for these films: juvenile yuk-yuks are the go-to. The editing is erratic; granted, I expect a kinetic quality from Michael Bay films, but scenes just abruptly end. Music tracks cut off, or crazy enough, Transformers sing or play the score in places. Scenes like that kill a genuinely intriguing epic tone that I sensed in the trailers. It’s there from time time, but everytime the film builds, the makers abruptly halt it. It’s a mess, truly. There isn’t much to say here in regards to acting, because the dialogue is too clunky to even care. There is foul language galore (nothing R-rated, but they try to push the line), so I still can’t okay this film or really any of them for children. There wasn’t anything explicitly anti-Christian in the film, yet you’ll see the Cross throughout as a symbol only. I heard giggles from boys and man-children at the “jokes” throughout, but most attendees sat emotionless during the film, completely ambivalent to it all. I was ready to go, as were others, and blockbusters shouldn’t be that way.
I know I’ve been trashing the film so far, but the only thing I can respect here is the special effects. And that’s why people come to these. I felt like it was proven to me in my screening. A large family of non-English speaking people sat near me; they couldn’t understand anyone in the theater that night. Yet, here they were there for an exposition-heavy robot movie. They didn’t care. They just wanted to see explosions, and the film is full of them. You’ll see people in car chases and sliding down building surfaces, as well as colossal creatures beat each other to a pulp. This happens here, as it has in all the previous films. If you like those things, you come back. I watched this film entirely because of an assignment to write a Bible Study on it, and while I saw themes of the power that the good influence of friends can have in changing us, I struggled to get a message out of it. If someone does see this movie, maybe that’s the silver lining. If you plan to see the film, come back here; I’ll link the Bible Study here when it’s complete. If you don’t plan to see the film, then please don’t. The credits tease yet another sequel; I hear of countless more planned films in the serie, and seriously, this all needs to be put to rest. Autobots, let’s roll on to something else, because this isn’t working…at all.