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Movie Review: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Is More Carnage, Noise and Junk



Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Transformers movies are an endurance test to see how much excess a viewer can handle. How many explosions and CGI robots can be tossed at the screen before they become meaningless visuals? How many one-liners and expositional passages can the characters deliver until they are all seen as mere ciphers for action? How many convoluted arcs about the Transformers’ culture and history can be woven in until the plot means nothing?

And with The Last Knight being the fifth and advertised as the final (lies!) Transformers movie, repeating all the same Michael Bay-isms we’ve come to expect, I’ve become numb to what this director must find so thrilling about this saga.

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Here we go again.

The story is nothing new, coming down with a bad case of deja vu from the previous film. Earth’s military has banded together to form the Transformers Reaction Force, bent on hunting down the shape-shifting Transformer robots, be they the supposed heroic Autobots or destructive Decepticons. Certain scenes have the appearance of Earth now being a military state as the task force now utilizes giant walker drones to combat the threat of sentient machinery.

Some Transformers are executed on sight while others are imprisoned. Why imprisonment? So that the Decepticon leader Megatron (Frank Welker) can bargain with the military to release his friends in exchange for helping the humans track down the Autobots. Did the human characters get hit with an amnesia ray since the last movie? They already trusted the enemy once and that didn’t end well. But, much like those hoping for a good movie, maybe this time it will work out okay.

While the Autobots continue to hide from the humans until another war starts, so everyone can temporarily forget about how destructive they are, giant mechanical horns start popping up around the globe. It turns out the planet is a Transformer, known as Unicron, that will bring about the end of humanity. The only hope to save the planet lies in acquiring Merlin’s staff, which wielded not magic, but ancient Transformers powers from the Dark Ages. This is all basic knowledge for a secret society of knights in the UK that has made it their mission to cover up the Transformers for centuries, including their apparent involvement in World War II. Would you believe a transforming watch killed Hitler?

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Ooh, look! Another robot!

Meanwhile, Autobot leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) has traveled through space to his home world of Cybertron. He discovers it has been ravaged of life with the only mechanical residing being Quintessa, an apparent creator of Transformers that seduces Optimus into doing her bidding. She needs Merlin’s staff to restore Cybertron and convinces Optimus to turn evil for this quest, killing anyone and destroying any planet that might get in his way. This seems to be staged as a shocking betrayal, but it’s not like Optimus was a very tactical or heroic protector of Earth in the past. Why start now?

There are only two types of humans in this world. Either they’re a simpering mess of annoying complaints or a smug jerk that insults everyone with the most vapid and mean-spirited of jabs. The returning Mark Wahlberg is king of the smug with his grating accent, cocky remarks towards even the most caring of human beings and an ability to turn into the most dim American around British people, lobbing nationalist insults that even a grade-schooler could best.

He trades meaningless verbal blows with Laura Haddock, an Oxford English professor that dresses in sexy clothes, per Bay’s babe requirements. They will later kiss, despite having no chemistry. Fear not, feminists; there’s also the little girl Izabella who has become such a loner of a homeless mechanic that she doesn’t need any boyfriend in her action-packed lifestyle. She’s unfortunately only present for the first act and then leaves, fulfilling the base requirements of a child angle and then kicked to the curb, as with all of the movie’s fleeting moments of potential.

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Yep, that’s Mark Wahlberg.

Poor Sir Anthony Hopkins, cast as a Transformers expert and scholar, must also play to the smug role of an inconsistent character. When he’s not spouting thrill-free exposition on the history of Transformers, he’s shouting at people, screaming for others to shut up, cackling at overturned cars and getting in a few one-liners of calling people “bitch” and “dude.” One passage best encapsulates the movie’s incoherence in how Hopkins babbles as though he were a stumbling drunkard pretending to be British, rambling to the point where I’m not sure if the character or Hopkins is drunk.

The Transformers are even more lacking in character than they were before as they too become mean and spiteful for no reason. One Autobot is supposed to be a meditative samurai, but will break his concentration to cuss up a storm as he swats at a bug. Another is supposed to be a proper English butler, but is so desperate for a line he’s reduced to quoting Ludacris’ “Move Bitch Get Out The Way.” The only thing more interchangeable than their personalities is their parts.

I’ve probably become a broken record for this criticism, but it bears repetition: these character designs suck. The Transformers have too many parts, indefinable features and might as well be smears of garbage when fighting in combat. Actually, no, there is one Transformer who has a unique design: a small blue bot with big eyes, no voice and tiny limbs who is best friends with Izabella. Every Transformer calls this character ugly, yet he’s the only one with any decipherable emotion in his clearly visible expressions. Emotions must be out of style on Cybertron.

I can only assume most Transformers fans are going to be seeing this picture for the action scenes with Bay’s signature of blowing things up real good. But this action is so noisy, horribly edited and horrendously staged to the point where I doubt even the most devout of fans could decipher what is going on in this picture. In the climax, military soldiers land on Cybertron and quickly take cover from gunfire, but gunfire from whom? What machines are attacking them and where are they located in the smoke and fire?

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Which one is this?

A spaceship with an Autobot knight from olden times crash lands in Chicago with no reason given as to why he is there. Where did he come from and how did he crash? Nobody seems to ask these questions, as they’re too busy running from explosions, creating explosions or exploding at each other with the most tedious and horrendous of dialogue.

Even more confounding than the visual vomit of these overly assembled shots is trying to figure out who is attacking who and what they want. I never knew if Quintessa and Unicron were working together or if the Autobot knights of Arthur were serving Unicron or protecting Cybertron. Action scenes also seem to happen for no reason. For the life of me, I cannot recall why the hunt for the staff turns into a submarine showdown or why Hopkins shoots bullets out of his cane at Megatron at Stonehenge.

Read more for the rest of the Transformers: The Last Knight movie review:

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Box Office

“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office



It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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Box Office

“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back



With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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Movie News

Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure



Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.

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