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REVIEW: Is ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ OK for kids and teens?

June 23rd, 2017 / By: Michael Foust / comments

REVIEW: Is ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ OK for kids and teens?

Has anyone seen Optimus Prime? That’s what General Morshower—and every other good guy on Earth—wants to know.

The last time we saw our hero, Prime was drifting through outer space, toward his home planet of Cybertron, searching for his creator.

That’s too bad, because we sure could use him.

Our home planet is a wasteland. Transformers have been banned, and a government-backed para-military unit, the Transformers Reaction Force (T.R.F.), is searching the city streets with orders to destroy all “robots in disguise.” The good Transformers (Autobots) are hiding out in Cuba and South Dakota, while most of the bad ones (Deceptions) are in jail.

So, who’s going to save us from that giant alien planet careening toward earth? Scientists tell us it will kill tens of millions of people and likely end civilization as we know it. If only we could find Optimus Prime.   

Transformers: The Last Knight (PG-13) is now in theaters, giving us the fifth live-action film in the series based on the 1980s toy line. It is directed by Michael Bay and stars Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager, who is assisting the Autobots hiding out in South Dakota; Laura Haddock as Viviane Wembly, a professor and Yeager’s love interest; and Anthony Hopkins as Sir Edmund Burton, who is the keeper of the Transformers’ history on Earth.

This newest Transformers film delivers the cool CGI and battle scenes that have made the series so popular. Unfortunately, it also tosses us a confusing and head-spinning plot. The movie opens with a Dark Ages battle in A.D. 400, where we learn that a Transformer gave Merlin a magical staff that helped deliver a battlefield victory. It then jumps to the present day, where Yeager eventually is given a “metallic talisman”—a large alien-looking coin—that carries some significance to the planet Cybertron. Then, everyone chases the staff and the coin thing for the rest of the film, and we’re left wondering … why? And in the middle of all that, the Nazis make an appearance.

Warning: minor spoilers!

Violence/Disturbing Images

Excessive. Transformer films, of course, are known for their sci-fi violence, and The Last Knight is no exception. The robots punch, kick and shoot in scene after scene. They use swords. They use machine guns. They use laser guns. (Even when the robots are destroyed, they sometimes magically reattach.) The opening scene with a Dark Ages battle provides a different type of fighting, with more blood than is typical of a Transformers battle. We even see soldiers, on fire, running around the battlefield. The body count in The Last Knight is quite high.  

Sexuality/Sensuality

Moderate. Vivian’s family, wanting her to marry, jokes about how they want her to meet a man “or woman.” One of them then looks in the classifieds for “women seeking women.” Vivian displays cleavage in a dress and a shirt. When Yeager calls it a “stripper dress,” she says, “If my dress makes you uncomfortable, maybe I should take it off.” Later, she and Yeager talk about how long it’s been since he’s had “whoopee.” When the two of them ransack an upstairs room looking for an historical item, her family downstairs thinks the noises are from something else. Finally, when the metallic talisman crawls down his pants, she suggests they could find out what happened to it. They kiss in the movie’s final scenes.  

Coarse Language

Excessive. I counted about 80 coarse words: sh-- (31), a-- (13), he-- (12), bi--h (9), misuse of “God” (8), da-- (4), d--k (2), misuse of “Christ” (1), p-ss (1). Sadly, the movie also shows kids, presumably in junior high, cursing, too.

Life Lessons

Yeager gives us lessons on regret and redemption with his young adult daughter, who he hasn’t spoken to in years. “It looks like to me you’re running out of tomorrows with your daughter,” one of the characters in the film tells him. His daughter leaves voicemails, telling him she loves him; he can’t talk to her for fear of being tracked. Later in the film, he tries to make things right.

There also are lessons on friendship, courage and teamwork.   

Worldview

It’s a science-fiction universe without the God of the Bible. Optimus Prime finds his creator, a goddess named Quintessa, who demands his obedience (even though they fight). She calls herself the “prime of life.” It’s worth noting that Optimus Prime wants to find out who made him. It seems such natural urges aren’t confided to humans.  

Family-Friendly?

It’s always frustrating when Hollywood takes a kid-friendly idea—say, robotic toys—and turns it into an adult-centric movie. Parents are then left trying to explain to little Billy why he can’t go watch Optimus Prime.

It’s difficult to overlook the language in this one, even if we give it a pass for the mostly bloodless sci-fi violence. It’s not family-friendly.

Thumbs Up … Or Down?

I’m a guy who enjoys action movies with battles, chases and explosions. But it’s best to have an enjoyable plot, too. I really wanted to like this one. It’s simply too confusing and too long. Thumbs down.  

Discussion Questions

1. The movie tells us that “magic does exist.” Does it? What does Scripture say?

2. What did you think of Optimus Prime’s actions during the final scenes?

3. The narrator tells us: “We can be heroes if we only have courage to try.” Is that true?

Entertainment rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

“Transformers: The Last Knight” is rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of sci-fi action, language and some innuendo.