This series focuses on the one and only Michael Bay. Attempting to deconstruct his filmography, one film at a time. The ideas explored here may or may not end up in my Dissertation about Michael Bay and Post-Cinema.
And to answer the question: Does it ever rain in a Michael Bay movie?
After 13 HOURS, Michael Bay went back to the TRANSFORMERS series for potentially it seems, the last time. TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT attempts a sortof reboot to the franchise.
But with Michael Bay at the helm, this didn’t reboot as much as rehash what has come before. This is the worst performing, worst reviewed film in the series. But why?
After the restrain of 13 HOURS, already in the opening sequence of LAST KNIGHT Michael Bay goes back to his more chaotic tendencies. The Arthurian legend from the previous film is continued on, but this time it is fleshed out more with the actual King Arthur and his Knights in action versus the Saxons. The fight sequences are very close to what you would expect from a historical battle scene from a Ridley Scott film. This is the closest we will get to a Bay version of GLADIATOR, and he clearly seems to enjoy filming something different, albiet with a metal Dragon.
Stanley Tucci comes back, briefly, as Merlin, with an Anthony Hopkins narration played over the top, attempting to sound epic. Speaking of Anthony Hopkins he is clearly enjoying being in one of the big blockbusters with a bit more free reign to have fun with his role. Mark Wahlberg returns as Cade Yeagar but thats as far as I can say about that. There is a female lead that is actually central to the plot; however, Laura Haddock isn’t given much more than to be brains and beauty, with whole conversations devoted to her as a sexual prospect and nothing more.
The plot is complicated and incomprehensible, it is narrative and tonal whiplash. You have the historical epic opening sequence, the WWII flashback, the blockbuster machinations and the childish comedic moments. It is a mess. An interesting ‘fourth wall’ sequence is the negotiation with Megatron, wherein he demands the release of several Decepticons. This is a SUICIDE SQUAD comedic montage, played for laughs and importance. But nothing comes of it.
Lets talk now about the big action sequence. The scale is huge in scope, Cybertron comes crashing to Earth and threatening and literally killing billions of people. But this doesn’t feel like it happening in the world of the film. The impact is merely local, for a big global blockbuster it should stretch the camera to look at the impact of others.
There is depth and layers to the action, but it is too complicated and cluttered almost as though this isn’t the same filmmaker who made the other 4 films. It doesn’t have the physicality of the others which means that the weightlessness, whilst present in the others, becomes more of a problem. Tony Hale at one point claims that mysticism and magic won’t save the day, physics will. Is this Bay trying to stick to his guns with his style of filmmaking but being forced to give in to the green screen and CGI trappings. The final sequence doesn’t feel like a location, it feels like a set.
I think as a final TRANSFORMERS film, Michael Bay has taken the series as far as he can go. Instead of attempting to change radically, he has stuck to his guns with his practical effects and stuntwork like no other (bar the M:I series) does. Even the FAST & FURIOUS series has devolved into plasticy Action Men.
TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT is a mess. It is the worst of the 5. But I don’t think this is Bay’s doing, he can only work with what he has been giving script wise, and as he shown in DARK OF THE MOON and AGE OF EXTINCTION, when the series has an actual story and almost simplicity to it, Bay’s direction and style works along side as a thrilling companion. It is unfortunate that his TRANSFORMERS era has seemingly ended on such a bum note. But if anything, the series has allowed him to be one of the few ‘open-cheque’ directors.
Does it rain? Not rain, just debris.
Next up: Netflix gives Michael Bay an open cheque