Too many franchises are overstaying their welcome. Movie series used to end, but that rarely happens anymore. However, the tides may be changing. Franchises used to be critic-proof sure things, but they’re finally starting to dwindle – domestically, at least. YA adaptations are going the way of the Western (see the ‘Divergent’ saga). Tentpoles like the ‘Pirates’ movies are falling short of studio expectations. This gives me hope – hope that we’ll one day return to quality and originality, veering us away from the purely business-minded blunt force trauma delivered by clunky and joyless supposed blockbusters. But in the meantime, here’s another ‘Transformers’ movie for you.
Michael Bay is back at it. He made a surprisingly good true story war drama last year with ‘13 Hours‘, but has come back to the dumb franchise that he created for one final installment. ‘Transformers: The Last Knight‘ marks his fifth in the series. While I, admittedly, enjoy the first movie for what it was (a mindless fun spectacle movie that capitalized on childhood nostalgia, visual effects and explosions), the first three sequels that followed were insultingly braindead, convoluted and miserable. Believe it or not, the story of ‘The Last Knight’ is the most composed of the four sequels, but it’s still undermined by a wildly inconsistent tone, a terrible script and relentless noise. Lots and lots of noise.
Although the Witwicky name returns for ‘The Last Knight’, Shia LaBeouf isn’t back. Instead, Mark Wahlberg’s character from ‘Age of Extinction’ keeps the lead as a rogue inventor who helps the remaining Transformers find refuge from the world military organization that’s been tasked with hunting them down. When he’s chosen by a dying Transformer to fulfill an ancient prophecy, he enlists the help of Anthony Hopkins, a pretty girl with glasses (you know, to signal that she’s smart), Bumblebee and an annoying psychopathic butler Transformer to trot the globe in search of yet another world-ending device that has been stashed on Earth since Merlin, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table were entrusted with protecting it from Decepticons. I kid you not. Clocking in at 149 minutes, ‘The Last Knight’ is far from being the worst of the franchise, but you still deserve better.
Fortunately, two indie films are getting limited releases this weekend ahead of their wide expansions.
Lionsgate has placed Amazon Studios’ Sundance acquisition title ‘The Big Sick‘ on five screens. The fantastic true story dramedy comes to us from Kumail Nanjiani (of ‘Silicon Valley’) and his wife, Emily V. Gordon. Produced by Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel, Nanjiani plays himself in the film, while Zoe Kazan plays Gordon. The film depicts Nanjiani’s life as a working comedian, how he met Gordon, the clashing of their cultures, and how Gordon came down with a rare disease that left her unconscious and nearly took her life. ‘The Big Sick’ is the type of film that walks through heavy elements without ever bringing you down. It also has the ability to speak to these adult themes without losing a single adult demographic. Male, female, American, non-American – it doesn’t discriminate or leave anyone out. (Check out my review of ‘The Big Sick’ from Sundance.)
Sofia Coppola is a hit-or-miss filmmaker, but taking the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival, it looks like she’s back in hit territory with ‘The Beguiled‘, which was also in contention for the Palme d’Or. The period piece reunites Coppola with her ‘Virgin Suicides’ and ‘Marie Antoinette’ star Kirsten Dunst, as well as ‘Somewhere’ star Elle Fanning. Nicole Kidman joins the mix in this Civl War-era drama about a sheltered girls’ school that’s disrupted when a wounded soldier (Colin Farrell) winds up on the campus.