Movie Mixtape: 6 Movies To Watch With 'Transformers: The Last Knight'

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what's in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: Transformers: The Last Knight.)

After hundreds and hundreds of years, and a detour into Guy Ritchie's clutches, King Arthur is finally in a Transformers movie. This is the world we live in now. Might as well get used to it. Dogs and cats living together is next.

The fifth installment in the absurdly profitable, Hasbro-fueled series will be the last to feature Bayhem. Michael Bay is stepping away after one last ride, but not after introducing Medieval lore and Sir Anthony Hopkins to a universe of urinating alien cars and mechanical dinosaurs. I mean, if you've already put fried chicken next to your lasagna at the buffet, you might as well toss a shepherd's pie on top.

Chaos reigns in this franchise, which is why this installment of the Mixtape might seem even more randomized. Grab your sword, and just go with it.

Deepwater Horizon (2015)

Mark Wahlberg's career has shrewdly careened between prestigious knockouts and dumb action, but his most recent movies have sought to smash those two concepts together by engaging real-world heroism with splodey intensity. This elevation of ripped-from-the-headlines storytelling casts Wahlberg as the working man good guy at the center of a terrible event. Peter Berg's eco-tragedy examining the 11 people who died on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig due to corporate regulatory neglect wrestles with the limitations of heroism while putting it on display. That Wahlberg is essentially bringing the same persona from Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day (the Boston Marthon bombing movie) that he does to the Transformers franchise makes it super weird to watch them back-to-back. Like the time I watched The Planet of the Apes on The History Channel.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

A classic among classics, Robert Wise's adaptation of Henry Bates' "Farewell to the Master" sends a large robot to Earth to deliver a message about galactic war and peace. It simultaneously put us at the center of the story while tacitly pointing out that a bunch of other worlds were doing stuff out there among the stars without us. The Last Knight also wants to answer why the Autobots and Decepticons keep coming to our planet.

It's a sci-fi tradition that Transformers utilizes even though the franchise dismisses its lessons. While Transformers continually show us how ill-prepared we are for an invasion by warring factions of giant aliens, arguing that fire power is a necessity, The Day the Earth Stood Still opens with an alien gift that would enhance human life being destroyed by a soldier with a nervous trigger finger.

I Know That Voice (2014)

Few things are as jarring as watching the human beings behind the voices of beloved animated characters. Lawrence Shapiro's fun, informative documentary features about a hundred of them.

The Transformers connection is an obvious one. Since the animated Transformers series in the '80s, Peter Cullen has voiced Optimus Prime as a deep-throated, level-headed leader. That includes a turn in The Transformers: The Movie, which also featured voice work from Judd Nelson, Frank Welker, Eric Idle, and Leonard Nimoy. The film also features the final performances for both Orson Welles and Scatman Crothers. Transformers: The Last Knight features Cullen, once again as Optimus Prime, as well as John Goodman (the military ambulance Hound) and John DiMaggio, who narrates I Know That Voice.

The Transformers: The Movie (1986)

The strangest thing about the first feature in the toy/cartoon symbioses is that it treats the aliens that transform into cars as cars. It's silly kids fodder from an era where animation usually had nothing of interest for the parents dragged out of their beds on Saturday mornings, but it's also nostalgic fun that stands in sharp contrast to the current live-action/CGI blend behemoth. While Bay mostly focuses on hand-to-hand combat and large-scale shootouts, the '80s took the Transformers vehicular nature to heart with anime-inspired chase scenes. Fair warning: this movie may only be for those who saw it back when they were peeling the stickers off their Rubik's Cubes.

The Spaceman and King Arthur (1979)

See! Michael Bay isn't the first to smash King Arthur and space fiction together! Also know as A Spaceman in King Arthur's Court and Unidentified Flying Oddball, this Disney film features a NASA worker (Dennis Duggan) who travels back in time with his friendly android to show off the kind of technology that impresses and threatens Medieval denizens. It's an incredibly silly movie that, of course, features a scene where a dude in a spacesuit is burned like a witch. That's only half as absurd as the animated Transformers series episode where a Decepticon punches a knight on horseback. Turns out Bay's new movie is just borrowing from the canon.

As a bonus connection to Transformers: The Last Knight, The Spaceman and King Arthur was also filmed at Alnwick Castle, a gorgeous spot that's been featured in Downton AbbeyRobin Hood: Prince of Thieves, two Harry Potter movies, and a host of other movies and TV shows.

The World's Most Relaxing Film (2015)

To showcase its natural beauty, the Denmark tourism board commissioned a 7-minute short film that dropped the heart rate of viewers by over 10%. After two hours of robots crashing into each other, you may need this.

The Mix

The end of the Bay era may be the beginning of a new chapter for Transformers, including the upcoming Bumblebee spin-off, which means the look of future installments might be profoundly different. Not World's Most Relaxing Film-different, but different. That comes after Bay led the series from a vehicle for Shia Labeouf to repeatedly shout "No!" and fall in love with Megan Fox to a vehicle for Wahlberg to save the homestead and strike a patriotic pose.

Pain and Gain is reason enough to get excited about Bay loosing himself from a franchise that has been so time and energy intensive. Especially since that franchise is going to exist long after Bay blows up his final robotic T-Rex.