Film & TV Reviews

Transformers: The Last Night (2017)

TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (2017, 12, Amazon Prime). What professional critics often appear to fail to realise is that a technically good movie doesn’t actually make an audience-pleasing movie. The reasons that Michael Bay’s fifth Transformers movie works is actually all of its technical failures – overuse of McGuffins, for example. These audience-pleasing moments are why the film grossed $605.4million worldwide at the box office, comparable to its $217million budget. Don’t get me wrong. After the box office smashing successes of the previous two movies, each grossing in excess of $1billion, this highest budget of the entire series, grossing the least; is probably why its on hiatus as a series. 

It is definitely the weakest of the five prime movies, to date (we’ll talk about 2018s ‘Bumblebee’ in its own review). Certainly, it’s let down by its convoluted (though not entirely non-existent as some critics would have you believe) plot; as well as it’s jerry-rigging of WWII & Stonehenge; into that add in a dash of Arthurian legend; and the pointless inclusion of characters who barely serve the overly long plot – but ultimately have no real character development – take that teenage girl, Izabella, whose existence to the story is simply to be the ‘owner’s of an autonomy who is forced, by her, to save the day; in part. There’s no apparent individual agency in autobots. And the twelve knights are bystanders in a story that started with them; as in many ways is the last knight – whose one role is to save Optimus Prime from execution by the original 12 knights for treason. Also Optimus turning bad – has he been corrupted? Probably not considering Bumblebees voice (how’d he get that back for that moment?) was able to bring Optimus to his senses… Again gapping plot holes in a technically terrible movie. 

Not to mention the acting of the legendary Sir Anthony Hopkins, ably assisted by his steam-punk-esq Clockwork butler, Cogman, voiced by the esteemed ‘Downton Abbey’ actor Jim Carter. Even the underutilized drunk Merlin is well played by Stanley Tucci. And whilst a pointless character, Isabella (with a ‘z’) played by Nickelodeon alumni Isabela Moner, turns in a fair performance. Laura Haddock’s performance as Viviane is stable, whilst Mark Wahlberg is okay; it is unfortunately Josh Duhamel, Santiago Cabrera and Jerrod Carmichael who turn in passable but not good acting performances, probably because the underlying material is hardly Oscar winning. 

However; who cares? Not the audience, not really: These are escapism movies, audiences watch to enjoy the pure exhilaration of high-speed car chases, and things in good I’m comic book fashion going kaboom! And whilst the movie is NOT good, it has plenty of action sequences, things going bang, and cars rushing through cities streets; including London, UK. Add in the movies fantastic CGI, and we have a movie that will keep the fans and audience of the franchise engaged until the end. 

Rim of the world (2019)

RIM OF THE WORLD (2019, 15) is a teen science-fiction disaster come apocalypse melodrama with a tired and predictable plot, which adds little to nothing to an oversaturated genre. The premise being that four young teens face off against aliens – which are reminiscent of Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’ (1979, 15). 

We have the typical characters: The hero – a science come sci-fi “nerd” whose father died in a fire (perhaps through our hero’s in-action, but whatever the cause we have our reluctant cowardly hero. Next up we meet our female heroine, Chinese and on a quest to the isolated kids titular summer camp, based in the mountains above Los Angeles, California. This camp of course comes with the tired typical counsellors – the over friendly counsellor; and the alcoholic womanizing counsellor – aside from the latter’s predictable toilet demise, the friendly and other counsellors aren’t seen again after the initial 10 minutes. She for some unknown reason becomes the ‘love interest’ of our need-hero – the inclusion of this romantic storyline detracts and morphs this filming places it doesn’t need to go – they’re thirteen not fifteen – girls are still a bit icky at that age to boys, and boys are to girls all The more for than teen stink – but the formula is followed even into these unnecessary divergences. 

The next of our teen protagonists is the spoilt sex-obsessed rich Lothario who has a heart and a sob-story. His sob-story is his families call from wealth, resulting in prison for Lothario-Snr. Added nicely to our quadruplet is the bad-boy “I escaped from Juvi” to hide in the mountains lad with a heart – who also adds one of the most original features of this movie – he appears to suffer from dyscalculia – dyslexia with numbers. But this is not a justice for dyscalculia sufferers, it’s to aid the plot and further the character development of our teen lothario. 

Added to this tired plot are the supporting characters – the fallen astronaut, whose final words are the “quest” and “objective”. Then there’s the unreformed murderer released by our nerd-hero from the local sheriff’s jail which not too long later backfires, though not so drastically as to prevent our heroes continuing, but does seen the unreformed murdered die, typically allowing our heroes escape. Then there’s the kindly soldier, who for all of these minutes relieves the burden of the astronaut’s only-way-to-save-the-world key – and yes, he dies, predictably. 

They arrive at their final destination only to find the military scientist they thought was alive (repeating of a Morse code signal), is dead, the signal is his blood drilling into the old-style telegraph sounder. Then in this dilapidated military building, where they find the dead scientist, they receive a video call, on electrical systems that don’t work, from a dismissive but kindly General. Cue rousing speech by our nerdy hero and the General is convinced: four tweens can save the world – eye-roll. 

Other moments and locations serve the typical genre issues of this movie: the deserted mall, the spooky fairground; the open highways; the L A River’s concrete channels (also filmed here: Grease; Terminator 2; Drive and a ton more). 

Once we get passed all this we then have to question the movies ad-hoc pacing, and times it’s a little too fast with moments of “what just happened “; and the next moment we have sickeningly slow lingering looks – why? 

So having thoroughly rubbished this movie, what redeems it – not much to be honest- our four principals start strong, but acting school did its job and bullied the genuine out of them before the final set-pieces. And our primary female did well when silent – only to have an American accent when she opened her mouth and spoke in English – so not Chinese, why the heck did she struggle at immigration. There are issues of type-casting with regards to race, and wealth – cause all black rich kids either where a suit, or as in this case, silk tracksuit – a speak like they’re from the hood. 

However, the films greatest strength is it’s length – 99 minutes: it’s just short enough to hold and engage your attention without to much of a drag. And whilst the plot is tired and predictable, it’s still a fun journey. So go in with very low expectations and don’t take the movie too seriously. 2/5 stars.