Why The Last Knight bombed

Discussion in 'Transformers Movie Discussion' started by Nathanoraptor, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    @Haywired is absolutely right; TLK had shot itself in the foot from the very beginning and was doomed to fail.

    Firstly, it was up against some pretty stiff competition; ROTF (the second-worst of the bunch) made as much money as it did because, for audiences, there wasn't much to choose from. It was either ROTF, X Men Origins: Wolverine, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra or Terminator: Salvation. For audiences, ROTF was "the best of a bad lot".

    TLK, on the other hand, was competing against Wonder Woman and Spiderman: Homecoming; both of which are infinitely better.

    Spiderman: Homecoming is a brilliant film because it has a compelling plot with a lot of heart, great performances from pretty much everyone in the cast and a villain with a sense of nuance and complex motivations that is unseen in pretty much every Transformers movie.

    Wonder Woman is also a great film, largely due to Gal Gadot's performance and her genuine chemistry with Chris Pine, and a supporting cast full of likeable and genuinely interesting characters.

    The only problem I had with it was that it didn't embrace the fantastical aspects from the comics; Ares is placed out of focus in favour of Ludendorff and the main threat is not some fantastical weapon or Harryhausen-esque beast, but a slightly more dangerous version of mustard gas. But those were minor flaws

    That happened with a lot of films that summer... Valerian got its thunder stolen by Spiderman: Homecoming, King Arthur got creamed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and The Mummy tried to take on the aforementioned Wonder Woman and lost. About the only film TLK beat in quality was Pirates of the Caribbean 5, simply by virtue of lacking Johnny Depp's "I'm mad, I am" shtick.

    The lesson? Audiences are more discerning than studios think; we will not tolerate shite when there is quality on offer. Marvel have known this since 2008; it's the reason why the MCU films are always top quality, with story and character in focus.

    There were also some monumentally stupid decisions made by Paramount in the process of production. First, they got rid of Ehren Kruger, who was, in hindsight, the person who was responsible for DOTM and AOE a step up in quality compared to ROTF. Although, to be honest, given Kruger is now writing Dumbo, I doubt he cares.

    Secondly, they tried to start a "cinematic universe" rather than trying to focus their energies on making a quality product. This, as Universal proved, is not a good idea; The Mummy did that and crashed and burned.

    TLK was also overbudgeted (a production budget of $260 million) and it was a big summer blockbuster; the overall box office returns, just over $600 million, would be considered a hit for most films. Hell, the first Transformers was a box office success at $700 million.

    However, for big summer blockbusters these days, anything less than $750 million is considered a write-off. And that's what happened with TLK; especially when it was coming hot off the heels of two films that grossed over $1 billion.

    The reason why MCU films are box office successes is because they have sensible budgets; only four films so far (three Avengers films and Captain America: Civil War) have had budgets of more than $200 million. There's also more of a focus on making a quality product, rather than trying to spend half the budget on making things blow up.

    The one thing Hollywood needs to learn is that, when it comes to spending, quantity does not necessarily equate quality; look at Jurassic Park. Made on a $63 million budget (which would be small fry today) when CGI was in its infancy, yet it had landmark effects, a brilliant plot and stellar performances. 25 years later, it holds up as one of the best films of all time.

    For modern examples, look at Cloverfield; it was made for a budget of $25 million dollars. End result: a genuinely gripping, suspenseful film that ranks as one of the best monster films of all time.

    Another example; Trollhunter. Trollhunter was made for a little over $3.5 million; compared to most Hollywood blockbusters, that's practically loose change. End result: a wonderfully entertaining film, with some of the best special effects I've ever seen.
     
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  2. Galvatross

    Galvatross Swamp Lord Shrek-traoridinairre! Veteran

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    Because Shrek wasn't The Last Knight, which would be logical given he's the last knight standing in the Dreamworks animated movie before Farquaad decides to send him off to fight the dragon and rescue the princess.
     
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  3. TheWarPathGuy

    TheWarPathGuy MAXIMUM CARNAGE!!!

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    I think the Last Knight failed cause we are living in an era where if your movie sucks, no one will see it.
    I am happy that people are self aware enough to pass on these movies, and watch actual good movies.
     
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  4. DOTM Bumblebee

    DOTM Bumblebee I must be some kind of nut...

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    I think there are a number of reasons why The Last Knight failed, as you illustrated.

    One was trying to start a cinematic universe five movies in after killing off almost all the major characters in the franchise. The reason Marvel's cinematic universe worked is because they had planned it out, and had an idea of where they wanted to take their characters. Transformers 1-5 were shot for the edit, with no regard as to following up on the story from the previous films (especially apparent in Age of Extinction and The Last Knight) and no regard to the Transformers as characters beyond "people buy his toys, better keep him alive!"

    Another probably was that it was going up against movies that had more thought and effort put into them. I've yet to see Wonder Woman, but Spiderman: Homecoming had far more respect effort put into its story and characters than all the Bay Transformers movies combined. It says something that someone like me, who has the barest knowledge of Spiderman as a character but is a major Transformers geek, was able to sympathize more with Spiderman than Optimus Prime.

    Finally, exhaustion with Michael Bay's Transformers was probably the biggest problem. After five movies that are generally, on average, around two and a half hours long, over the course of ten years (not helped by the plot of each movie being basically almost the same as the last), general audiences were bound to get sick of Bay's Transformers. The Last Knight admittedly put some effort into trying to differentiate itself from previous films (the human sidekick being as much on the run as the Autobots, Optimus Prime turning evil and fighting Bumblebee...), but the plot still boils down to "ancient Cybertronian artifact his hidden on Earth, the plot dawdles around on pointless romance between unnecessary human characters, and the heroic Autobots boldly slaughter everyone standing in their way until the ungrateful human race is safe".

    Transformers: The Last Knight did literally nothing to deserve avoiding the fate that it did, and if Bumblebee hadn't been the exact refresh that the movies needed to earn back audience interest, Transformers might very well have been a dead film franchise.
     
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  5. Shockwavers

    Shockwavers Well-Known Member

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    I'm kinda tempted to use that "yeah we know" meme again. But... naah like I said I don't want to make fun of you and it kinda lost its humor I think
     
  6. Autobot Burnout

    Autobot Burnout Ding dong THE BAYVERSE IS DEAD!

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    TLK failed because it was a cobbled together and rushed mess that managed to make the exact same mistakes as The Mummy in trying to set up a cinematic universe (namely giving more of a damn about setting up plot points for future films than actually having a plot worth sitting through), was directed by a man who genuinely didnt care about the end product anymore, tried to shore up the shittacular lack of plot by putting in big marketable names (litterally the only reason Anthony Hopkins is in the film instead of a cheaper elderly British actor), and was banking entirely on China saving it like China had saved AOE except without the numerous benefits arranged for AOE.

    Its failure was all but certain from the get go.
     
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  7. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    And it's made even worse that it came right after AOE which, to me, felt like an attempt to break the format. The search for the McGuffin is not the driving force of the plot, the romance in the film (Tessa and Shane) is fairly downplayed and there was a darker, more serious tone, without any of the vulgar humour that had ruined ROTF. The Transformers also had more focus and characterisation; Hound, Crosshairs and Drift weren't forgettable or annoying, as previous characters had been (lookin' at you, Skids and Mudflap).

    Fans, audiences and, to some extent, critics noticed this and stated that the numerous changes made for a slightly better movie than its predecessors (many critics gave AOE an average score; they were simply counted as negative by Rotten Tomatoes). There was the possibility that we might actually get some quality back in the franchise...

    Then Paramount made a number of bad decisions; most notably, they got rid of Ehren Kruger, who was, in hindsight, the man responsible for DOTM and AOE a step up in quality compared to ROTF. After that, they got a "writer's room" in and composited three different story ideas into a single film, leading to a less coherent story overall

    Given all that, and remembering that Paramount basically forced Bay into continuing production of ROTF during the writer's strike, one seriously starts wondering whether Hasbro, Bay and Spielberg wouldn't be better off taking their business elsewhere.
     
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  8. ObakaChanTachi

    ObakaChanTachi Manny said the N-word

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    TLK failed because Paramount learned nothing from the previous 4 critical disasters
     
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  9. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    Of the five movies, only two, critically, were unmitigated disasters; ROTF and TLK. DOTM was pretty much universally considered an improvement on ROTF and AOE mostly got lukewarm reviews from critics (RT's scoring system counted them as negative).

    ROTF managed to survive at the box office because pretty much all of 2009's summer movies were shite. Audiences basically had to settle for "the best of a bad lot". TLK, on the other hand, was going up against Spiderman: Homecoming and Wonder Woman; it had no chance.

    The lesson? Audiences are more discerning than studios think; we will not tolerate bad movies when there are good ones on offer. Even AOE, which is one of the better films, quickly got dethroned by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
     
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  10. TommyHawk

    TommyHawk Active Member

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    Well, the obvious has already been stated and this isn't something new, goes back before MCU. You wanna have people keep coming back to your show, keep them invested. In films, its actually quite simple, write compelling characters or stories. Sure, big budget films need spectacle, but relying on spectacle alone is unsustainable for the long run.

    And I bring up a quote from James Berardinelli's review of JJ Abrams' Super 8. Now I found Super 8 was an OK film and I don't know whether JJ has the same philosophy as Berardinelli claims but there is some truth when it comes to talking about Bayformers.

    "Abrams remembers the simple rule that a majority of his contemporaries have forgotten: action and mayhem have meaning only when an audience cares about the people trapped within the maelstrom."

    Or in this case, it would be Cybetronians trapped in the maelstrom. Bay forgot the former and just focused on the latter.
     
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  11. Ash from Carolina

    Ash from Carolina Junior Smeghead

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    I think part of it was people feeling like been there done that. The superhero movies keep chugging along because they manage to find ways to feel different. Movies like Logan and Ant Man feel totally different. Sometimes the heroes have to save the whole world and then sometimes it's more personal with only saving a few. DC can be all grim dark and then Deadpool can take all the piss out of the concept. But Transformers just felt the same film after film after film. If you'd seen one Transformers movie you'd pretty much seen all there was to a Transformers movie.

    I don't think the hybrid thing helped either. It's like they wanted all the movies to be stand alone films but at the same time they would have some convoluted stuff to connect films after the fact. Then there was the whole "soft reboot" over and over so that it was pitched as a reboot but it really wasn't a reboot.

    The film industry is about adapt to changing taste or die and Transformers didn't adapt.
     
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  12. JohnStartop

    JohnStartop There can only be one.

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    I think when you have a source material as rich as The Transformers, getting 3 stars or less each time is bad reception.
     
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  13. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    Most audiences don't really care about what the critics think of a film; it's word-of-mouth that matters. For example, both myself and a couple of friends of mine saw Darren Aronofsky's mother! and collectively told all our friends it was unwatchable shite; they didn't go and see it.

    Most people who are undecided on whether or not to go and see a film make a decision based on what their friends/relatives who saw the film say. That's the reason why DOTM and AOE were so successful; people had friends or relatives who liked the film and recommended it to people.

    With TLK, Paramount made a number of bad decisions; most notably, they got rid of Ehren Kruger, who was, in hindsight, the man responsible for DOTM and AOE a step up in quality compared to ROTF. After that, they got a "writer's room" in and composited three different story ideas into a single film, leading to a less coherent story overall.

    Like with all the other flops that year, audiences voted with their wallets and went to see Wonder Woman and Spiderman: Homecoming instead. The best films won and the flops flopped.
     
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  14. bellpeppers

    bellpeppers A Meat Popsicle

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    Not only was it a lousy film but it failed to entertain.
     
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  15. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. I enjoyed TF2007, DOTM and AOE, but I just found TLK exhausting to watch; it was the first film I ever saw where I was checking my watch to see how long was left of it.

    That was true of a lot of films that summer; TLK, Valerian, King Arthur, The Mummy and Pirates of the Caribbean 5, amongst others, were all competing to be the worst thing to land at my local Odeon.

    Of the blockbusters that summer, the only ones I enjoyed were Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spiderman: Homecoming, Alien: Covenant and War for the Planet of the Apes. Those were good movies that left all the others in the dust.
     
  16. JohnStartop

    JohnStartop There can only be one.

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    I'm not the one who brought up ratings.
     
  17. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    I assumed that was what you meant by getting "3 stars or less each time".
     
  18. JohnStartop

    JohnStartop There can only be one.

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    That was in reply to someone who said that some of them had good reviews.
     
  19. Nathanoraptor

    Nathanoraptor Well-Known Member

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    That was me; I was stating that only ROTF and TLK were considered unmitigated critical disasters, which is true. DOTM was pretty much universally considered an improvement on ROTF and AOE mostly got lukewarm reviews from critics (most negative reviews give the film an average score; it is just RT's scoring system that makes them negative).
     
  20. JohnStartop

    JohnStartop There can only be one.

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    RT considers 65%+ as positive.
    But even the decimal rating system of IMDb places all but the first in 3 stars or less, and that's an audience vote, not a weighted average.