Transformers fans were treated to an exclusive sneak peek of Michael Bay’s ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ last night in London and we were lucky enough to be there to see around 30 minutes of new footage unfold on IMAX.
In a pre-recorded segment Michael boasted that ‘The Last Knight’ was the only film this summer shot entirely in native 3D IMAX, promising that he was doing everything he could to keep 3D alive. He also revealed that the Transformers writing team had locked in 14 new “stories” for the future of the franchise admitting he might be tempted to return to the series to direct one of the spin-off films, although he reiterated that ‘The Last Knight’ would be his last film in the main series.
The footage, some of it with unfinished VFX, opened with the usual Paramount ident, but immediately we were transported into the action when flaming projectiles begin flying out from behind the company’s mountain logo.
The camera swung round revealing a huge medieval battlefield with hundreds of armed knights, flaming trebuchets, and mounted soldiers fighting hand-to-hand. King Arthur stood on a hilltop with his knights watching the battle and they ask where Merlin is, with reference to him being a bit of a drunkard. Merlin then appears (we think he’s played by a bewigged and bearded Stanley Tucci, but Paramount has been unable to confirm or deny this so far) and true to form he begins downing a bottle of booze to prepare for the battle.
We then got a few random shots of Merlin riding across a British landscape and a huge space ship is revealed to be embedded in the side of a mountain, then there’s some discussion about there being “troubled times ahead”.
Cut to the present day and we see a gang of kids exploring a battle-ruined football stadium somewhere in America (Chicago?). This then segues into the ‘Canopy’ clip released earlier this year which sees the boys being rescued from two-legged hunter robots by Isabella Moner’s Izabella and the new Autobots Canopy and Sqweeks who is currently unable to transform into his Vespa form.
When the kids are eventually cornered, Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager rides in to the rescue taking down the robots with an alien weapon, and with a little help from Bumblebee, but things don’t look good for Canopy who takes a direct hit.
Next we cut to Cade’s desert junkyard where the inventor is hiding out. Grimlock, the leader of the Dinobots, larks about like a junkyard dog and coughs up a Police patrol car after Cade gives him a dressing down. We then meet new character Desi, played by stand-up comic Jerrod Carmichael (‘Bad Neighbours’). He’s a fugitive and Cade’s assistant, and – it seems – the film’s comic relief.
Cade has brought Izabella with him who reveals she’s an orphan with no home to return to. We then see the three later on after they’ve left the junkyard. They’re in a deserted town where the humans are launching an army of flying drones (reminiscent of the Star Wars franchise’s TIE Bombers) to track them down.
The drones follow them to a church (keep an eye out for the ‘Wizard of Oz’ Tin Man reference), with a number of the drones smashing through the stained-glass windows before one throws Cade out of an elevator, seemingly to his doom.
Of course, Bay doesn’t kill off his hero and new Autobot Cogman swoops in to catch him before he hits the ground. The human-shaped Transformer is a posh-voiced butler/manservant who works for Anthony Hopkins’ Sir Edmund Burton, an eccentric historian with knowledge of the Transformers’ history on earth.
We then cut to Cade arriving at Burton’s castle, and the aristocrat is seen walking his dog (the infamous “loneliest dog in Britain” cast by Michael Bay) accompanied by a WW1 Mark IV tank Autobot with “robot dementia” who could be called “Bulldog” if the livery on its side is to be believed.
Hopkins puts in a committed performance as the kooky lord, who seems a few sandwiches short of a picnic, and he seems to be interested in the metal arm band Cade wears around his bicep. Hot Rod then appears outside the castle delivering Laura Haddock’s Oxford professor Vivian Wembley who promptly tumbles down a hill in her cocktail dress. It’s a very Michael Bay moment.
Yeager, Burton, and Wembley then have a chat in one of the castle’s luxurious rooms with some playful banter between the inventor and professor. Burton mentions he’s a descendant of the “Whitwickens” which sounds a lot like Witwicky to us – the name of Shia LaBeouf’s character in the first three ‘Transformers’ movies – so they could be distantly related.
Burton then reveals he is in possession of King Arthur’s Round Table bringing the footage preview full circle. He reveals there were 12 knights of the roundtable and 12 knights from Cybertron and we’re treated to a flashback to the roundtable where 12 medieval Transformers emerge from the shadows looking really gnarly and cool.
Burton then announces, “one last knight will be chosen to end mankind’s struggle”. But who is he referring to? Optimus Prime? Cade Yeager? Sqweeks?
You’ll have to wait until 23 June to find out.