Earlier in the week, I was lucky enough to get a pass to attend the Paramount Pictures Transformers: The Last Knight fan event over in Sydney. We normally don’t get called out to cover preview screenings of teaser footage so I was actually expecting to write up a full review for this film, instead I was treated to a 20-minute reel of footage. I was a bit surprised but I took what mental notes I could and now that I’ve had some time to coalesce my thoughts into words, here are some of my impressions, thoughts, and concerns regarding what I’ve seen.
With this preview I got a sense that the writing has improved considerably for dialogue, at least. That isn’t saying particularly much as I’m sure most of us aren’t expecting Shakespeare when buy a ticket to see a Transformers movie but it’s fairly agreed by most pundits that even for the low expectations we do have, the writing in this series has been less than stellar. The ancillary characters, in particular, appear to have some choice cuts of dialogue and wit which actually made me laugh a couple of times during the preview screening. During the fan event, they made a big deal of the fact that a writer’s room of 14 screenwriters was gathered to write the film’s script and I feel it certainly does show in the better dialogue.
What I’m less than impressed with is the major overtures to the hero’s journey that we’re probably going to see with Mark Wahlberg’s protagonist character. Don’t get me wrong, I have no qualms with the hero of a thousand faces making another cameo in the new Transformers instalment if the face of this particular hero has an interesting personality attached… but from what I’ve seen in the preview this doesn’t really appear to be the case. Throughout the twenty-minute screening we were treated to, I really had no gauge on who the protagonist character was besides being varying shades of sarcastic and guarded. Otherwise, he comes across as a bit bland and disconnected but I’m willing to reserve judgement until I see the full performance.
The biggest concern I honestly have is something which has always bothered me about this film franchise, namely its focus upon its human characters. Throughout the Transformers film franchise, we’ve had to put up with the eponymous transformers themselves being essentially second-fiddles in their own films. Instead, the focus of these films lies upon the human characters who are generally severely less interesting than the giant alien robots. It’s a shame that, for whatever, the producers of this series don’t feel more confident in the staying power of their eponymous characters.
The action sequences I could see in this teaser reel were pretty solid and what I expected from Bay. Since this is the fifth iteration of this franchise, I feel like he’s probably got some experience with making some engaging sequences of robot-on-robot combat. I’m expecting that the full film experience will be one of exciting action sequences but little which I’d consider to be truly substantive. Bay is a skilled auteur when it comes to making mainstream action films and knows how to make action films which are fun to watch (it’s why this franchise has been running for so long) but I don’t believe that anyone has really come out of one of his films feeling like they have a new perspective on life.
By the looks of things, I don’t think The Last Knight will be too much different in that regard… but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I have no doubt it will be a fun action flick to tide us over the Winter months down here in the land downunder. If nothing else, it’ll probably be a wild and find ride to be on.
If you want to check out the Super Bowl trailer for Transformers: The Last Knight, you may do so here.