With the first reviews of Transformers: The Last Knight crashing in overnight like a wave of invading Decepticons, it's already clear that director Michael Bay will exit the franchise with a bang -- lots of them, in fact! -- it won't be to widespread critical praise.
Not that Paramount Pictures' Transformers series has ever needed the acceptance of critics, mind you; it's done perfectly fine without it, earning $3.77 billion worldwide with the first four films. The studio, along with its partner Hasbro, is clearly banking that there's a lot more more to money to be earned, as The Last Knight is intended to lay the foundation for an expansive cinematic universe -- Bay says there are 14 more stories already in development -- beginning in 2018 with a spinoff starring fan-favorite Autobot Bumblebee.
However, early reviews for this fifth Transformers film suggest audiences must first endure a roller-coaster ride that's not -- perhaps unsurprisingly -- altogether enjoyable, or logical. However, or fans of the director's trademark brand of "Bayhem," The Last Knight may be be precisely the kind of big-screen insanity they're looking for in a summer popcorn film.
CBR's Kristy Puchko branded the sequel a "Michael Bay clusterflick," that boasts an absolutely, unapologetically insane opening" that's "awesome, alive with Bay’s special brand of epic outrageousness." "There’s so so much going on in Transformers: The Last Knight, it’s hard not to like it," she continued. "The film is like a mile-long buffet bar, offering just about anything you can imagine. Sure, some of its selections should never sensibly share space, but that doesn’t mean they’re not delicious."
However, other film critics apparently weren't nearly as willing to sit back and enjoy the spectacle, or find delight in the performances of Anthony Hopkins and Stanley Tucci, as The Last Knight now holds a 17 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Here's a selection of what those critics are saying:
Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times: "[T]he fifth Transformers movie, The Last Knight, is far from the worst in this continuing experiment in noisy nonsense based on Hasbro toys. That is thanks largely to two words: Anthony Hopkins."
Eric Kohn, IndieWire: "More coherent than Age of Extinction, the third act of which took place in Beijing for no other apparent reason than to outsource the production to China, The Last Knight lands a lot of good laughs with its cartoonish robots and equally over-the-top chemistry between its two leads. Hopkins’ character is even helped along by a senile robot named Cogman, an unapologetic C-3PO ripoff whose very existence proves that Bay thinks nothing is sacred in his plundering of cinematic traditions. In these transparent times, when the ills of capitalism are no longer hidden under the guise of moral superiority, the sheer absurd cash grab of The Last Knight feels like more than just a commercial coup. It’s the zeitgeist. Just go with it."
Matt Singer, ScreenCrush: "Either this movie is dumb or I am."
Julia Alexander, Polygon: "Transformers: The Last Knight is two-thirds of a decent summer blockbuster, but the final act is complete garbage. The last act, which almost feels like it belongs to a separate movie, isn’t just boring, but it’s redundant to every other Transformers movie. If you’ve seen any of the franchise’s films in the past decade, then you’ll already have an idea of how Transformers: The Last Knight ends."
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly: "Monster metal, mass destruction, Anthony Hopkins saying 'dude.' This is your brain on Michael Bay — a cortex scramble so amped on pyro and noise and brawling cyborgs it can only process what’s happening on screen in onomatopoeia: Clang! Pew-pew! Kablooey! (Which, to be fair, does cover about 80 percent of the script.)"
Megan Farokhmanesh, The Verge: "Even at its best, The Last Knight feels like a series of action scenes wrapped up together in a thinly stretched narrative. The characters are always in some sort of mortal peril, whether they’re being shot at, nearly getting crushed by errant bots, or on a free fall collision course with solid ground. Everyone has one-liners ready to go, though a lot of them are cringeworthy."
Justin Chang, the Los Angeles Times: "Like few auteurs or hacks before him have managed, Bay has a genius for imbecility; he turns incoherence into its own form of hyperkinetic abstract art. He is a Pollock of pulverized metal, a virtuoso of vertiginous clutter. This is reportedly the director’s final Transformers movie before he turns over the reins, and he approaches it with infectious glee, as if he were the ringmaster of the world’s largest zero-gravity robot orgy and delighted at the chance to crack the whip one last time."
In theaters now, Transformers: The Last Knight stars franchise veterans Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and John Turturro, joined by newcomers Isabela Moner, Liam Garrigan, Jerrod Carmichael, Mitch Pileggi, Laura Haddock, Santago Cabrera and Anthony Hopkins.