|Transformers: The Last Knight|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Bay|
|Music by||Steve Jablonsky|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$605.4 million|
Transformers: The Last Knight is a 2017 American science fiction action film based on the Transformers toy line. It is the fifth installment of the live-action Transformers film series and a sequel to 2014's Age of Extinction. Like its predecessors, the film is directed by Michael Bay and features Mark Wahlberg reprising his role from Age of Extinction, while Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, and Glenn Morshower reprise their roles from the first three films, as well as Laura Haddock, Isabela Moner, Jerrod Carmichael, Santiago Cabrera, and Anthony Hopkins all joining the cast. Returning Transformers include Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Hound, Drift, Crosshairs, Wheelie, Megatron (abandoning his Galvatron identity from Age of Extinction), and Barricade.
The film premiered at Odeon Leicester Square in London on June 18, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States on June 21, 2017, by Paramount Pictures in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D. The film was universally panned by critics and is the worst-reviewed film of the Transformers series. At the 38th Golden Raspberry Awards, it was nominated for ten awards, including Worst Picture, Worst Director, and Worst Actor for Wahlberg, but did not win any. Though it grossed $605 million worldwide against a budget of $217 million, the film reportedly lost over $100 million for both Paramount and Hasbro.
In 484 AD, King Arthur and his knights fight a losing battle against the Saxons. Elsewhere, Merlin approaches the Knights of Iacon, a group of Transformers hiding on Earth, to help win the war. They hand him an alien staff, before transforming together into Dragonstorm and turn the tide of the battle, but warn Merlin that a great evil will come for the staff.
In the present, five years after the Hong Kong Uprising,[N 1]Optimus finally arrives on Cybertron, and meets his alleged creator Quintessa. She, who originally sent Lockdown to bring him to her, blames Optimus for Cybertron's destruction and brainwashes him, renaming him Nemesis Prime. After which, she orders him to travel to Earth to help her get Merlin's staff, which can absorb Earth's energy to restore Cybertron. Earth is revealed to be Unicron, the ancient enemy of Cybertron, and whose horns are emerging across the planet.
On Earth, Transformers remain unwelcome among humanity, apart from in Cuba, and are hunted by the Transformers Reaction Force (TRF); a paramilitary force manufactured from the fallen Cemetery Wind. However, the U.S. military, particularly those who had formerly worked with the Transformers, such as Colonel William Lennox, is secretly against the new policy. Cade Yeager, an ally to the Autobots, helps hide refugee Transformers from the TRF in his remote junkyard. In the war-torn Chicago, Cade, Bumblebee, young scavenger Izabella and her Transformer companions Sqweeks and Canopy help a group of three young boys evade the TRF drones, but Canopy is killed by a fighter jet when the TRF mistake him as a Decepticon. Cade receives a mechanical talisman from a dying Autobot knight and has a brief standoff with the TRF and their leader, Santos, before being saved by Bumblebee, Lennox, and Hound. Cade returns to his junkyard with Izabella and Sqweeks with the talisman. Both Megatron and the U.S. government become aware of the talisman's value and power, reluctantly joining forces to obtain it. A group of Decepticon prisoners are released to aid in the mission.
The Decepticons and the TRF locate Cade's hideout with the help of a tracker previously planted on Bumblebee. Grimlock and the Dinobots ambush a TRF convoy. Cade, his assistant Jimmy, Izabella, and Sqweeks flee from the Decepticons and the TRF to an abandoned town where the Autobots ambush their enemies and defeat them while Cade, Jimmy, and Izabella battle a unit of TRF drones. Cogman, a steampunk Transformer Headmaster, appears and invites Cade to the United Kingdom to meet his employer, Sir Edmund Burton, who has connections to the Transformers. Burton also has another Transformer associate named Hot Rod who he orders to find Viviane Wembley, a University of Oxford professor, and bring her to him. On his way back, Hot Rod gains an alternate form after scanning a passing Lamborghini Centenario LP770-4 sports car.
Bringing Cade, Viviane, and Bumblebee together, Burton explains that Transformers have been aiding mankind in war for centuries, their existence hidden by a secret society of famed historical figures, the Order of Witwiccans, of which he is the last living member. The talisman can lead to Merlin's staff, buried with him in a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden under the sea. However, only a direct descendant of Merlin can wield it due to the knights encoding his DNA into it. Viviane is revealed as the last of Merlin's bloodline. The TRF and local authorities discover them, forcing them to flee. Following a series of clues while evading their pursuers, the group head to the Royal Navy Museum. There, Cade, Viviane, Bumblebee, and Cogman commandeer the museum submarine HMS Alliance, also a Transformer, to find the spacecraft. The TRF, working together with the US Navy SEALS, after a failed attempt to stop the Alliance, pursue them in DSV submarines.
Burton contacts Seymour Simmons, both learning that Earth is Unicron, and the staff will be used to drain the planet's life, via an access point hidden under Stonehenge. Locating the ship, Cade and Viviane discover Merlin's tomb and obtain the staff. Viviane activates it, causing the spacecraft to become airborne, awakening the Knights of Iacon. As the TRF and Navy SEALS, now under Lennox, try to take the staff from them, Nemesis Prime arrives, forcing the humans to surrender the staff. Bumblebee, Lennox, and Cade confront Nemesis who engages in battle with Bumblebee. Just as Nemesis is about to finish him off, the formerly-mute Bumblebee begins speaking in his own voice (rather than the radio), stirring Optimus' memories and freeing him from Quintessa's control. The Decepticons ambush Optimus and Cade and steal the staff from him. The Knights try to execute Optimus for his "betrayal," but Cade stops them when his talisman transforms into Excalibur. The Knights yield and join the humans and Autobots. Burton tries to stop Megatron from activating the staff at Stonehenge only to be mortally wounded, dying peacefully with Cogman at his side. At the same time, Cybertron's remains collide with Earth to begin draining energy from it, devastating the planet and killing millions. The Autobots, Dragonstorm, and human military forces converge on Stonehenge and Cybertron, attacking the Decepticons and Quintessa's minions, who either flee or are killed while Quintessa is defeated by Optimus and Bumblebee. The worlds are then saved upon Viviane removing the staff and the Autobots leave Earth to rebuild what is left of Cybertron.
In a mid-credits scene, Quintessa, who has survived by using a space bridge to escape and is disguised as a human, approaches a group of scientists inspecting one of Unicron's horns, offering a way to destroy him.
Additionally, Mitch Pileggi,Tony Hale, and Gil Birmingham appear as a TRF group leader, a JPL engineer, and Chief Sherman, respectively. Former Navy SEAL Remi Adeleke also stars in the film as a unnamed TRF lieutenant working for Santos. Nicola Peltz has a vocal cameo as Tessa Yeager, Cade's daughter, who helped the Autobots during the events of Age of Extinction, while Shia LaBeouf is seen as Sam Witwicky, who allied with the Autobots in events prior to Age of Extinction, in a photograph spotted in Burton's mansion.Tyrese Gibson was cast to return as Robert Epps, but was unable to appear in the film due to scheduling conflicts with The Fate of the Furious.
In March 2015, Deadline Hollywood reported that Paramount Pictures was in talks with Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) to pitch new ideas for the Transformers franchise's future installments. The studio intends to do what James Cameron and 20th Century Fox have been doing in planning three Avatar sequels, and what Disney has done to revive Star Wars, with sequels and spin-offs. Paramount wants to have their own cinematic universe for Transformers, similar to Marvel's/Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe (which had been one of Paramount's previous film series), and DC Comics/Warner Bros.' DC Extended Universe. Goldsman is the head of the future projects, and worked with franchise director Michael Bay, executive producer Steven Spielberg, and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura to organize a "writers' room" that incubates ideas for potential Transformers sequels, prequels and spin-offs. The writers' room members include Christina Hodson, Lindsey Beer, Ken Nolan, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari, Robert Kirkman, Zak Penn, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Jeff Pinkner, and Geneva Robertson-Dworet. Kirkman left the room after just one day to undergo throat surgery. In July 2015, Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner were announced as the fifth Transformers film's screenwriters. However, on November 20, due to Goldsman's commitments creating a writers' room for G.I. Joe and Micronauts properties, Paramount began to negotiate with Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, as well as Ken Nolan, to write the film. Lindsey Beer and Geneva Robertson-Dworet were also brought aboard for writing duties.
After Transformers: Age of Extinction, Bay had decided not to direct any future Transformers films. But in early January 2016, in an interview with Rolling Stone, he stated that he would return to direct the fifth film, and that it will be his last Transformers film.Paramount Pictures spent $80 million on production in Michigan, in return for $21 million in state incentives, under agreements entered into before the state legislature eliminated the film office incentive program in July 2015. In April 2016, Paramount hired cinematographer Jonathan Sela. On May 17, Bay revealed the official title of the film to be The Last Knight on his Instagram account, where he also posted a production video showing a close-up of Optimus Prime's face with purple eyes instead of blue, and his face mostly discolored. The official Twitter account showed a 19-second short video in morse code that translates to "I'm coming for you May 31". On May 31, it was revealed that Megatron would return in the sequel.
In December 2014, Mark Wahlberg confirmed that he would return in the sequel. In February 2016, there were casting calls for new lead and supporting roles in Los Angeles and London, and Peter Cullen was announced as returning to voice Optimus Prime. Approximately 850 cast and crew were hired, 450 of whom were Michigan residents, equating to 228 full-time positions. Additionally, 700 extras were hired from among Detroit residents, as part of Paramount's incentive deal with the state. On April 13, TheWrap reported that Isabela Moner was in talks to star as Izabella. The site also reported that Bay was eyeing Jean Dujardin, Stephen Merchant, and Jerrod Carmichael for supporting roles. On May 17, 2016, it was confirmed that Josh Duhamel would reprise his role in the film, and Jerrod Carmichael was cast. In June 2016, Anthony Hopkins, Mitch Pileggi, Santiago Cabrera, and Laura Haddock joined the cast, and Tyrese Gibson stated that he will return as Robert Epps. In August 2016, Liam Garrigan was confirmed to play King Arthur, a different version from his role as the same character on the television series Once Upon a Time. On September 4, 2016, Stanley Tucci confirmed his return. On October 14, 2016, Bay announced that John Turturro would reprise his role as Seymour Simmons from the first three films, and that John Goodman would return to voice Hound. A month before the film's release, Bay revealed that the character Cogman would be voiced by Downton Abbey actor Jim Carter, at the request of co-writer Matt Holloway, who is a fan of the series. On June 9, 2017, Reno Wilson confirmed via Twitter that he would have a voice role in the film. On June 16, 2017, Gibson revealed that despite closing a deal for the film, he was unable to appear as Epps due to scheduling conflicts with The Fate of the Furious.
Principal photography began on May 25, 2016, in Havana, Cuba, with a few scenes shot by a "small team". Filming continued on June 6, 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona, and on June 19, 2016, in Detroit, Michigan, under the working title E75, with additional filming taking place in Chicago, Illinois. In Detroit, filming took place in the Michigan Motion Pictures Studio, Packard Plant, Michigan Central Station, Cafe D'Mongo's Speakeasy, and MGM Grand Detroit. Production moved to Europe on August 21, and filming commenced on August 22 in Scotland and Wales. In England, filming took place in North Yorkshire, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, London, Gosport and Stonehenge. Between August and October, filming occurred in Northern Ireland, and Preikestolen, Trolltunga and Atlanterhavsveien in Norway.
In early September 2016, filming took place in Alnwick Castle in Alnwick Northumberland in England, including car chase scenes. Production continued at St Aidan's Church, Seahouses, where Walhberg spent an hour inside the church and reportedly donated £200. Rev Father Des McGiven said: "I didn't even know he was in church until he left. One of my parishioners, Danielle Love, recognised him and explained who he was. It's great that we had him in for the service, and we appreciate his generosity towards our church." Car chases were also filmed at the Monument area of Newcastle upon Tyne, where Josh Duhamel was filming, while Wahlberg and Sir Anthony Hopkins continued at Alnwick, Seahouses and the Bamburgh Region of Northumberland. In late September 2016, filming was spotted in Gosport, Hampshire at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum. On October 5, 2016 filming was spotted at St Bartholomew-the-Great, London. London filming wrapped on October 27, 2016. Principal photography wrapped on December 4, 2016.
As with previous Transformers installments, Industrial Light & Magic served as the main visual effects company for Transformers: The Last Knight. In early 2016, the company showed Bay an underwater rendering of a crash-landed alien spaceship and a new dump-truck Transformer with a cloak.
On September 27, it was confirmed that Steve Jablonsky would return to write the score, having composed the music for the first four films. The score was released digitally on the film's original release date, Friday June 23, 2017, and a limited-edition two-disc CD set of 3,000 units will be released by La-La Land Records on July 25, 2017. Unlike the previous films' scores, which contained anywhere from fourteen to twenty-three tracks, the film's soundtrack contains thirty-four tracks, amounting to over two hours of music.
On the score, Jablonsky said, "I met with Michael before he started shooting 'Transformers: The Last Knight.' He showed me some amazing concept art and explained how the story connects the history of Transformers all the way back to the times of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I loved the idea because it gave me the opportunity to explore new musical ideas. The storyline allowed me to write melodies that are a bit more 'classical' than I've written for the other Transformers films, which was a lot of fun for me. Another important aspect of the story revolves around massive skyscraper-sized 'horns from hell' that start emerging from the Earth. They look like gigantic animal horns, but no one knows what they are or why they have appeared. I wanted to create an unsettling sense of mystery and tension with the music." The film also featured the song "Torches" by X Ambassadors.
Hatebreed also contributed to the soundtrack with their hit single "Seven Enemies" which was released the same day Transformers: The Last Knight hit theatres and is featured in the end credits as is Linkin Park and Kiiara's song "Heavy". Killswitch Engage also contributes to the soundtrack with their 2016 song "Hate by Design". Slipknot also contributed to the soundtrack with their 2014 hit "The Devil in I", Slayer contributed to soundtrack with the songs, "Payback" and "Disciple" off of their 2001 album, "God Hates Us All", and Pantera contributed to the soundtrack with their 1994 and 1996 songs, "5 Minutes Alone" and "Suicide Note Pt. 2", respectively.
Transformers: The Last Knight was released on June 21, 2017, after being moved up from its original June 23 release date. The teaser trailer of the film was released on December 5, 2016, and was later attached to Rogue One.
The first teaser trailer aired on Monday, December 5, during ESPN's Monday Night Football, and was released online shortly thereafter. With 24 hours of its release, the trailer garnered a record-breaking 93.6 million views from social media platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram, making it the third-highest-viewed trailer of 2016, falling behind Disney's Beauty and the Beast remake (127.6 million views) and Universal's Fifty Shades Darker (114 million views in 24 hours), but surpassing Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 trailer, which scored 81 million views in its first 24 hours online. Following the trailer's release, the film trended on all major social media sites, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. It was Weibo's No. 1 trending topic in China, where the preview was viewed 16 million times its first day of release. Television spots for the film started airing ahead of the Super Bowl spot on February 3, 2017. An extended TV spot for the Super Bowl aired during Super Bowl LI, on February 5, 2017. On March 11, 2017, a new TV spot and clip were shown at Nickelodeon's 2017 Kids' Choice Awards. A new trailer aired with the release of Beauty and the Beast on March 17, 2017, while the third trailer was released on April 13, 2017. The international trailer was released on May 17, 2017, and a smaller trailer was released shortly after, on June 4, 2017. After that, various TV spots were released.
Transformers: The Last Knight was released on Digital HD on September 12, 2017, and on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 4K, Blu-ray 3D and DVD on September 26, 2017 in North America. It was also released in a collection with the four previous films.
Transformers: The Last Knight grossed $130.1 million in the United States and Canada and $475.3 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $605.4 million, against a production budget of $217 million. The film reportedly lost Paramount over $100 million and is considered a box office disappointment.
In North America, The Last Knight was originally projected to gross $70-75 million from 4,069 theaters over its first five days, which would have been the lowest debut of the franchise. However, after the film grossed a franchise-low $15.7 million on its first day (including $5.5 million from Tuesday night previews), opening estimates were lowered to $60-65 million. On Thursday, it grossed $8.1 million, potentially dropping the five-day debut to under $60 million. It ended up having an opening weekend of $44.6 million, the lowest debut of the franchise by $25 million (and lowest since the first film's $70.5 million). The film's five-day gross of $68.4 million was also lower than every three-day opening of the previous four films. The film grossed $16.9 million in its second weekend, dropping 62.2% and finishing third at the box office, and $6.4 million in its third, dropping an identical 62.2% and finishing 5th.
Internationally, The Last Knight opened in its first 42 international territories alongside its United States debut, including major markets China, the UK, Russia, Australia, Germany, Italy, South Korea, and Hong Kong, and was projected to have an opening of $167-200 million. Due to its predecessor's success in China, expectations were high for the film in the country. Box office observers and trackers believed the film would open to $80-100 million, and end its run there with anywhere between $290 to $400 million. The film ended up having a global debut of $265.3 million ($196.2 million from other territories), including $123.4 million from China, representing 63% of the film's international opening. In the film's second week in China, it fell 76% and had a running cumulative total of $147.6 million. The film's largest markets outside North America were: China ($228.8 million), South Korea ($19.2 million), Russia ($15.9 million), Germany ($15.4 million), Mexico ($15.3 million), U.K. ($12.2 million), Brazil ($13.7 million), Indonesia ($11.7 million), Japan ($15.7 million) and France ($11 million). In India, the film was given an adult certificate and, hence, it was not successful at the box office ($4.9 million) as compared to Age of Extinction ($10.2 million) and other Transformers films (3.01 million TF1, 2.80 million ROTF, 6.88 million DOTM).
Transformers: The Last Knight was universally panned by critics, with the most criticism focused on its length, story, direction, narrative, performances, script, certain characters' lack of screen time, and constant format changes throughout, though the fight scenes, musical score, visuals, and voice acting received some praise. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 15% based on 240 reviews, and an average rating of 3.24/10, giving it the lowest rating of the six films in the Transformers series. The site's critical consensus reads, "Cacophonous, thinly plotted, and boasting state-of-the-art special effects, The Last Knight is pretty much what you'd expect from the fifth installment of the Transformers franchise." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 27 out of 100, based on 47 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, the same score as the second film, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave a 75% overall positive score and a 55% "definite recommend".
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film a zero-star review (as he did to the previous films), saying "Every time Michael Bay directs another Transformers abomination (this is the fifth), the movies die a little. This one makes the summer's other blockbuster misfires look like masterpieces." Mike Ryan of Uproxx gave the film a negative review, criticizing its running time and incoherent plot, writing: "I have no proof Transformers: The Last Knight will kill your brain cells, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it does and I'd proceed with caution just in case. But I can say with absolute certainty that after watching, your head will hurt."Alonso Duralde of TheWrap was also critical of the film's sloppiness, saying, "...fear not, fans of the franchise: if you're here for the director's trademark chaos editing (where fights go from points A to D to Q), comedy scenes rendered tragic (and vice versa), and general full-volume confusion, you'll get all those things in abundance."
Variety's Owen Gleiberman gave the film a mixed review stating, "The fifth time may not quite be the charm, but the latest entry in Michael Bay's crunched-metal robot-war mega-series is badder, and therefore better." Richard Brody of The New Yorker acknowledged the film's flaws but noted there was almost something impressive about them, saying: "The absolute tastelessness of Bay's images, their stultifying service to platitudes and to merchandise, doesn't at all diminish their wildly imaginative power."The Times of India gave the film 2.5 stars out of 5 stars.
Robbie Collin of The Telegraph wrote "If you're not staggered by the technique on display here - the stuff that sets Bay's work miles above the Fast & Furiouses, X-Men: Apocalypses and Tom Cruise-chasing Mummies of this world - you're not paying attention" and called it "a cinematic experience of earth-shattering preposterousness".
|Golden Raspberry Awards||Worst Picture||Nominated|
|Worst Director||Michael Bay||Nominated|
|Worst Actor||Mark Wahlberg||Nominated|
|Worst Supporting Actor||Josh Duhamel||Nominated|
|Worst Supporting Actress||Laura Haddock||Nominated|
|Worst Screen Combo||Any combination of two humans, two robots or two explosions||Nominated|
|Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel||Nominated|
|The Razzie Nominee So Rotten You Loved It||Nominated|
On September 21, 2016, shooting for a particular scene took place in Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire in England, the home of Sir Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister during World War II. The mansion was dressed as a Nazi swastika-draped headquarters for Adolf Hitler for filming. This evoked both anger and criticism for being "symbolically disrespectful to Churchill", according to Colonel Richard Kemp, who said Churchill "will be turning in his grave", while Tony Hayes of the UK Veterans Association stated that surviving World War II ex-servicemen and women would be "appalled". Churchill's grandson and British Parliament member Sir Nicholas Soames dismissed the controversy entirely, stating, "They've no idea what my grandfather would have thought!" Churchill was buried less than a mile away, at St Martin's Church, Bladon.
The Last Knight was originally developed as the first installment from a writers room style brain trust that was established to map out the future of the Transformers films over the next several years. In March 2015, Paramount hired Academy Award winner film writer Akiva Goldsman to bring together a group of writers and pitch ideas for future Transformers films with the intention of expanding the franchise into a cinematic universe. At least 12 films had been planned for the cinematic universe with Goldsman overseeing development of a multi-part sequel storyline along with prequels and spin-off films that were to follow. In May 2015, Deadline reported that Robert Kirkman, Zak Penn, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, Jeff Pinkner, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari, Christina Hodson, Lindsey Beer, Ken Nolan, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, and Steven DeKnight were hired to write future installments for the series with Barrer and Ferrari writing a film that would explore the origins of Cybertron, with the working title Transformers One.
Before the release of The Last Knight, Michael Bay said it would be his last film in the franchise but expressed interest in remaining as a producer should they wish to continue the series with another director. Bay confirmed in April 2017 that out of the writers room, at least 14 stories had been completed for potential future Transformers films. After The Last Knight received negative reviews and failed to outgross any of the previous films, the future of the series was uncertain. By August 2017, Akiva Goldsman revealed he was no longer leading the writers room, and had left the franchise to pursue other career options.
On February 16, 2018, Senior designer of the brand John Warder confirmed Hasbro's plans for the sequel had been postponed and on May 23, Paramount removed the sequel from their release schedule. In an interview with Slash Film on December 10, 2018, producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura announced that there will continue to be further films in the series following the release of Bumblebee, acknowledging that the franchise will make some changes in their tone and style.
In a March 2019 interview, while promoting Bumblebee in Japan, Di Bonaventura confirmed that sequels to both the solo movie and The Last Knight were in development. He said "One is the latest in the main family series following Transformers: The Last Knight and the other is a sequel to Bumblebee". But one month later, it was confirmed that a direct sequel to The Last Knight is not in development.
Bakish congratulated Paramount for a successful turnaround, using the latest in the Transformers franchise as an example: Bumblebee, he said, is "solidly profitable" while its predecessor in the summer of 2017 lost more than $100 million.