6:00am PT by Graeme McMillan
'Transformers: The Last Knight' — What You Need to Know Before Seeing It
To those who have never watched a Transformers movie — as well as those who have simply forgotten everything that happened in earlier installments — there's much that might seem confusing about promotion for Transformers: The Last Knight… and not simply "Anthony Hopkins, why?" If a primer feels in order before hitting the multiplex, just read on and get up to speed before rolling out to the theater.
How Can The Transformers Have Teamed Up With King Arthur? Didn't They Just Arrive In The First Movie?
According to the mythology of the previous Transformers movies, Earth has an usually lengthy relationship with the Transformers. A machine called a "Sun Harvester" was hidden on the planet in 17,000 B.C., a spaceship from the Transformers home world of Cybertron crash-landed on Earth in the 1960s and we had robot dinosaurs because Earth was terraformed to produce an alloy called, of all things, "Transformium" millions of years ago. (2014's Transformers: Age of Extinction is somewhat fuzzy on details about the Dinobots. Don't ask.) Even the very first movie suggested that the Transformers everyone knows and loves actually arrived on Earth thousands of years ago, and were simply hidden until recently. All of which is to say: There have always been Transformers. There will always be Transformers. Don't worry about the history stuff.
Why Is Humanity At War With The Transformers?
After a couple of movies in which humanity sided with the good Autobots against the Decepticons, whose very name gives them away as the bad guys in this particular storyline, the events of 2011's Transformers: Dark of the Moon turned humanity against all of the giant robots en masse. It's understandable, really; that was the movie featuring a plan to bring the entire planet of Cybertron into Earth orbit, before transforming humanity into a slave race that exists to serve their robotic overlords. That's not something that humanity could easily forgive, even if things did work out okay in the end. Well, mostly okay.
What The Hell Happened To Chicago?
The climactic showdown of Dark of the Moon took place in Chicago, and the subsequent movie Age of Extinction revealed that the city hadn't recovered from the devastation. Not only was the Chicago standoff at the root of humanity's distrust of giant robots, but the city had become the unlikely focal point for Transformer action as a result; the climax of Extinction began there, as well, with an alien spacecraft hovering over the city long enough for Autobots to sneak aboard and rescue the imprisoned Optimus Prime.
What Is Mark Wahlberg Doing Here?
Wahlberg replaced Shia LaBeouf as the series' primary human star, with Age of Extinction, playing a Texan inventor called Cade Yeager, who discovered a damaged Optimus Prime by accident and fixed him up, becoming embroiled in the ongoing war between Autobots and Deceptions in the process. At the end of the movie, the Autobots are charged with protecting Yeager and his family as a thank you for his role in helping the good guys win one more time. By the opening of The Last Knight, it'll be obvious that that turned into a far more reciprocal relationship than might have seemed at the time.
Where Is Optimus Prime During All of This, Anyway?
The most obvious piece of dangling continuity between earlier movies and The Last Knight is why Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots and arguably the star of the entire franchise, isn't with the rest of his tribe. This harkens back to the end of Age of Extinction, which last saw the part-time truck flying into space with the intent of tracking down "The Creators," a group of aliens responsible for — as their name suggests — the creation of the Transformers race. Their intentions are unknown, but it was suggested that they didn't want Transformers interacting with other races — an attitude that Prime was not in favor of, hence his desire to find them.
No, Really, What's With Those Robot Dragons from Promotional Posters?
You've got me. Maybe one of the Dinobots got bored or something. The real question is, is that the "robot" version of the character — a la Ratbat or Ravage — or the transformed version, like the Dinobots?