Out of all of my fellow Reel World Theology contributors, I can probably say with a degree of certainty that I’m alone in my admiration of director Michael Bay, or at least in a substantial minority. In fact, when Transformers: The Last Knight was up for grabs to be reviewed for RWT, there wasn’t that much of a race to claim it. I don’t blame them; he’s definitely an acquired taste.
The Transformers series, in particular, is quite a lot for people to swallow. The first film is a fun popcorn movie with sincerely beautiful moments of awe and wonder (the whole sequence of the Autobots arriving on earth is one of the greatest movie moments of the 21st Century!). The lead human characters are funny and, at times, endearing. And the action sequences are among Bay’s most intense and fun.
The sequels are another story.
I must admit that, as flawed as the films are, I do have a mild appreciation for the Transformers sequels. I compare them to a roller coaster. Unlike the more elaborate theme park attractions that are at the Disney or Universal parks (which take the rider on a journey within some kind of thin narrative), roller coasters are built to simply thrill, wow, and take people for a ride. I’m genuinely entertained by the sequels for the visual thrill and spectacle. But with each film, the thrills become lessened.
Which brings us to The Last Knight. As much as I admire Bay and his style, this is probably one of his worst films. Still entertaining in some places, but overall not a very thrilling experience. I should probably blame the screenwriters more than Bay himself because, as he demonstrated with the superb 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, when given a good script to match his visuals, he’s a modern action auteur. There’s just very little joy and heart in The Last Knight, and that is its most fatal flaw.
As fun as roller coasters are, it might be time to get off this ride.
Though it’s a disappointment, The Last Knight does have some interesting thematic insights. Specifically, the film reminds us about the importance of stories, and how all tales and legends have a bit of truth to them. This idea is, frankly, the whole reason why I do what I do, and why sites like Reel World Theology exist.