Australian Council on Children and the Media

Transformers: The Last Knight

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Not recommended under 13, parental guidance strongly recommended 13 to 15, due to violence, scary scenes and characters and coarse language

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Transformers: The Last Knight
  • a review of Transformers: The Last Knight completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 3 July 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to violence, scary scenes and characters and coarse language
Children 13 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, scary scenes and characters and coarse language
Viewers 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Transformers: The Last Knight
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Action violence and coarse language
Length 149 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film’s opening scene is set in England during the Dark Ages. An army lead by King Arthur (Liam Carrigan) is engaged in battle against an invading force. Merlin (Stanley Tucci) arrives wielding a magic staff that allows him to control a gigantic three-headed dragon transformer called Dragonstorm which drives off the invading army. We learn that the staff can only be wielded by Merlin or one of his direct descendants.

The film skips to the present day where we find Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen) on a quest to find his creator. The Transformer Autobots, now declared illegal, have gone into hiding after being hunted by the TRF (Transformer Reaction Force) who destroy any Autobots they come across. A young girl Izabella (Isabella Moner) attempts to save a dying ancient Transformer Knight but is attacked by the TRF and only just saved by a hero from previous Transformer films, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg). The Knight dies but bestows upon Cade an ancient talisman which gives him special powers. 

Cade is approached by a humanoid Autobot named Gogman (Jim Carter) who convinces him to journey to England where he meets Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) a member of the order of Witwiccans, who have been keeping the Transformers’ existence a secret since the days of King Arthur. Arthurian historian Viviane Wembley (Laura Haddock) also goes to meet Sir Edmund. Sir Edmund reveals the secret of the staff of Merlin and its role in protecting the Earth and tells how Viviane, as Merlin’s surviving descendant, is the only person alive capable of wielding Merlin’s staff.

The remainder of the film is a battle between two ancient enemies, with the fate of the world resting on the shoulders of a small number of humans and Autobots. 

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Fantasy; good versus evil; death of parents; weapons of mass destruction

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains medieval battle violence (some brutal), intense sequences of science fiction action violence and peril throughout, the depiction of mass destruction of property and use of weapons of mass destruction. Examples include: 

  • The opening scene of the film depicts a medieval battle between two armies involving hundreds of men engaged in close hand-to-hand combat. During the battle catapults hurl flaming projectiles that explode as they hit the ground. Knights and soldiers are hurled through the air and engulfed in flames.  Combatants are stabbed, sliced and chopped with all manner of medieval hand weapons and one soldier is impaled on a lance. A gigantic three-headed transformer dragon kills men by breathing fire at them and their horses.
  • A group of children are attacked by TRF robots which fire automatic weapons at the children as they run for their lives.
  • The film contains a number of brutal fights between Transformers, who use a variety of giant sized hand weapons. In one scene a Transformer stabs another through the head and various fluids leaking out of the wound, while in another scene a Transformer slices the heads off several others with a single sword swipe. In other scenes gunfire blows the heads off Transformers.
  • Transformers punch and kick humans.     
  • The film contains several perilous and reckless car chases between normal car driven by humans and transformer vehicles. Vehicles recklessly speed through busy London streets causing property damage through collision. Cars collide, overturn and pile up with explosions and flames.  There is gun fire between vehicles, including automatic weapon and cannon fire.  
  • In the film’s epic final battle a titanic structure drifts towards the Earth. It is attacked by Air Force jets and helicopters which fire missiles and automatic weapons, causing flames and explosions with part of the structure breaking off and falling to Earth. Hooks trailing from the structure dig into the Earth and cause mass destruction. Several helicopters crash land and some are completely destroyed. 

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are many scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under 8, including the following:

  • The medieval knights wear scary armour
  • The film features dozens of machines and robots of varying colours, sizes and appearances with some having the ability to transform from humanoid to vehicle shape.   Some transformers are giant-sized, while others have mouths full of sharp teeth, red glowing eyes and evil voices. There are also a number of dinosaur transformers.  The gigantic three-headed flame-throwing dragon transformer is particularly scary and there is also an evil medusa-like transformer.
  • In a couple of scenes the attacking forces are trapped within a bubble of suspended time. People are suspended floating in the air or frozen in mid stride.
  • In one scene with comical intent, a transformer tyrannosaurus eats a police car and then regurgitates it, covered in goo. 
  • A talisman spontaneously grows four legs and then walks like a spider up a man’s arm and transforms into an armband that wraps itself around the man’s bicep. In other scenes the talisman transforms into a fluid metal device that moves over the man’s torso, disappearing and then reappearing. 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

Besides an entire toy franchise based around the film’s characters the film depicts a number of brand names vehicles including General motors, Lamborghini, Chevrolet, Dodge, Range Rover, Lexus and Mercedes. There are also Adidas and Nike clothing and footwear.  

Sexual references

The film contains sexual references and innuendo throughout. Examples include:

  • When an adolescent boy tries to flirt with a girl, the girl points to her guardian-like transformer companion and says, “As far as you’re concerned he’s my boyfriend”.
  • A Transformer says, “Look at the junk in her trunk”.  The comment appears to have an obvious sexual intent. However, the film cuts to an image on a laptop displaying a car’s boot full of packages.
  • Four older women tell a young woman that she should place an ad in the classifieds for a sexual partner.  One of the women tells of an ad where the man had his own dungeon. They suggest that ads for women would be ok as well.   
  • A humanoid Transformer tells a man that he received a message from a woman wanting to snuggle. 
  • A man is asked how long it has been since he ‘made whoopee’ and is then asked if he is saving himself for old age.
  • A woman tells a man “Hands off - there is a time and place for everything”.
  • Reference is made to a goat’s scrotum.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • Women wear tight and revealing clothing.
  • One woman walks and moves in a sexy way.
  • In one scene a man pulls up his shirt to reveal his muscles.
  • A woman passionately kisses a man on the lips

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A man drinks alcohol from a bottle in a couple of scenes and admits to being “sozzled” while a second man refers to him as a “worthless drunkard”.
  • Four women sit around a table with drinks in front of them. One of the women picks up a carafe and drinks half the contents.  
  • In one scene a man asks another man what he is smoking in his pipe.
  • One transformer appears to be smoking a cigar throughout the film.

Coarse language

The film contains frequent coarse language, put-downs and name-calling. Examples include:

  • Multiple uses of “hell”; “arse”; “shit”; and “bitch” as well as combinations such as “shitty arse dog”.
  • “god”; “damn”; “pissing me off”; “bullshit”; “Christ alive”; “don’t screw with it”; “holy shit”      
  • “worthless drunkard”; “yellow bugger”;   “idiot”; “junk-yard dog”; “skank”; “dickhead”; “knucklehead”; “dirt bag”
  • An incomplete use of “moth.. fu…..” 

In a nutshell

Transformers: The last knight is the latest film in this science-fiction  adventure series targeting adolescent fans. It may appeal to younger children, particularly those who have Transformer toys, but the M rating is appropriate - violence, scary scenes and characters, and coarse language make it unsuitable for viewers under 13 and parental guidance is recommended for the 13 to 15 age group, as some children in this group may find some scenes disturbing.     

The main messages from this movie are:

  • by working together we can achieve a greater good
  • split-second decisions may have important historical consequences
  • anyone can be a hero if they step forward when needed.

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