SJW Parent Review: Transformers: The Last Knight

It’s even worse than they told you.

Two hours and twenty-six minutes of this still image would be a better use of the ticket money and the movie screen.

Transformers: The Last Knight

Spoiler Alert: Sorry to be all philosophy of language about this, but words have meanings, and I don’t believe any information about this movie can be considered a spoiler. A spoiler reveals something about the plot of a movie that would otherwise be a surprise. This movie has no plot. No event in the movie, however ensconced in slow motion and loud music, is actually important to the story. Because there is no story. I guess if you do not want to read any descriptions of the moving images that you have not yet seen in the trailers, stop reading, but only after letting me tell you one thing: under no circumstances should you or anyone you care about go to see this movie.

Bechdel-Wallace Score: -10,000/3 – Negative ten thousand points for disgusting misogyny. After sexualizing a 17-year-old girl character in the previous Transformers travesty – and suffering no negative consequences for it – Michael Bay and Universal Studios decided to see what would happen if they sexualized a 13-year-old girl character (played by a 16-year-old actress) in this movie. I’m not kidding – within the first 30 minutes of the movie, you see her running in slow motion in a tank top. It is really fucked up. And this latino girl’s character is introduced largely by a white boy having a crush on her for being a badass.  I’m not a licensed or credentialed psychologist in any way, but I am going to go ahead and speculate that maybe Michael Bay is subconsciously trying to get caught for being a danger to children and will keep escalating this behavior on film until someone intervenes in real life. In the meantime, don’t leave your children alone with him. Also don’t take them to see this movie. Oh and re: the usual Bechdel-Wallace test parameters, there are three feminine characters with names in the movie and I don’t recall them ever speaking to each other, certainly never alone, and none of them say anything that isn’t addressed to and/or about a man.

Shukla Score: -10,000/3 – There are two, or three if you count voice work, named characters of color in The Last Knight. They have no significant dialogue with each other because there is no significant dialogue in the movie. The negative ten thousand points is because within the first 30 minutes of the movie there is such blatant racist caricature on display (a young overweight black boy is show screaming bombastically and exclaiming that he thinks he had a heart attack) and it doesn’t really get better later. The young black man who is in the movie beyond those scenes is – you guessed it! – there for comic relief, which he provides by yelling about things that scare, surprise, or anger him. The fact that he was forced into a job without adequate pay or any benefits is a punchline. He gets shot by a police drone and freaks out about being killed, but the joke is he only got shot with a bean bag. Violence against black bodies is an ongoing crisis in our Republic, not a comedic relief avenue for an action movie. 

Russo Score: -10,000/3 – I assume there were several LGBT-phobic moments in the movie, but that I already blocked them out of my memory. The negative ten thousand points here is because as far as I can tell, LGBT folks don’t even exist in Universal’s shared Transformers Shitverse. Total erasure.

Kittehs: 0/5 – It’s been a while since I published one of these, so just as a reminder the Kitteh score is how many kittens it would take to distract me from the movie. I am pretty sure I imagined kittens to distract myself at one point, but under no circumstances would I allow an actual kitten to be in a room where this movie was playing. Keep your pets away from this movie.

Low points: The whole thing is a low point for culture. This is the movie equivalent of Donald Trump winning the electoral college. The movie isn’t just really bad, it is toxic. I don’t know what else to tell you. Other reviewers have written artfully scathing reviews that are better than what I can manage. Read them. Or don’t. I mostly wrote this review to discuss the sexist and racist stuff I mentioned above, which gets a mention in other reviews, but I feel like they focus on how bad the movie is at the expense of how offensive it is. Yes, it is, start to finish, incredibly bad – but the offensive angle is even worse. Total erasure of queer folks, sexualizing of a minor, making the only black characters into walking punchlines, body-shaming for a laugh (doesn’t work), a couple of quips that are basically jokes about disabled people – it’s like a bingo game of toxic isms in a movie, except in this bingo game everyone gets all the spots on their card filled up early and then you just have to sit for two more hours and wonder how you ended up there at all.

Highlights: The movie was so bad I could not stop myself from writing about it, which sadly is the first time I have written and published one of these reviews in a while, but I guess it is some kind of silver lining. I felt I needed to warn people. (And I am too extroverted to keep this kind of pop culture despair to myself.)

Dad edits: I deeply regret getting my kid excited about this movie in advance. I am very uncomfortable with the coding of the characters and the subtext of the film. My concerns are heightened by the fact that, unlike other problematic movies, this one doesn’t offer any worthwhile story elements for him to hold on to and ignore the ick. It’s just spectacle and ick rolled up together. I really hope future movies set in the Transformers universe, without Michael Bay directing and with stories set on Cybertron, will be acceptable entertainment for him. Of course the kid loved the battle scenes, but he also took a 45 minute nap on my lap during the second act and did not realize he had slept through part of the movie until I told him afterwards. That’s how little sense the ‘story’ makes.  

Final Thoughts: Do not see this movie. Do not let people you care about see this movie. Do not let people you despise see this movie as their ticket sales will contribute to its financial success and could lead to more such movies in the future. Avoid this movie at all costs. So say we all!

Normally I would put a trailer for the movie here, but instead let’s look forward to something else entirely.

What do you think about this move? Send an email, comment on Facebook, or tweet on Twitter. There is also Tumblr and the comment field below, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

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