CINEMA RELEASE: TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel, Stanley Tucci, John Turturro, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi
Classification: M (Action Violence and Coarse Language)
Review by Peter Gray
In one of the umpteenth minutes of ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’’s incessant running time, a character proclaims that “this is the stupidest idea you could have!” Sure, he’s relaying it to another player in regards to one of the many inexplicable ideas conjured up as to how the humans can kill the Decepticons (the bad robots for the uninitiated), but it’s not hard to essentially take that one line of dialogue and treat it as a mantra of sorts for Michael Bay’s loud, useless fourth sequel.
For the briefest of moments though, ‘The Last Knight’ looks to engage us on the most mindless but still entertaining of levels when the film opens with a suitably violent battle sequence depicting such known figures as King Arthur and Merlin in all their sword-playing glory. Despite this medieval setting, Transformers are still present and they manage to magically infuse Merlin’s staff with enough power to strengthen an entire army. Before we know it however the convoluted script from Art Marcum (‘Iron Man’), Matt Holloway (‘Punisher: War Zone’) and Ken Nolan (‘Black Hawk Down’) shoots us to present day, and just as we expect ’The Last Knight’ descends into the type of lunacy synonymous with this series.
Basically, the world is at war with the robot race that have made their presence more than felt since introducing themselves in the 2007 original (a film, by comparison, that seems remarkably grounded). Transformers are illegal, and there’s only a handful of humans that are willing to risk their lives to save them. One such human is Mark Wahlberg’s returning brute inventor Cade Yeager (both the actor and character surviving the loud mess that was 2014’s third sequel ‘Age of Extinction’) who is living on the outside of the law in a robot-heavy junkyard with his unwilling “assistant” Jimmy (Jerrod Carmichael). Whilst Wahlberg would’ve been enough to sustain the majority of the film off the back of his cocky charm and impressive physique alone, ‘The Last Knight’ feels compelled to match its 149 minute running time with just as many characters, so John Turturro and Josh Duhamel’s players from the original trilogy are brought in, Nickelodeon tween Isabela Moner fills the spunky kid quota as a tomboy with an affection for all things robot, Laura Haddock swans about in impossibly tailored pencil skirts and high heels as she sprouts off scientific jargon as a Michael Bay-approved professor, and Anthony Hopkins wholly earns his pay-check as an astronomer who has all but been awaiting the inevitable robot war that this film projects in all its overblown, CGI-enhanced madness.
And then there’s the onslaught of Transformers themselves – Ken Watanabe, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi all lending their vocal talents to various robots of the heroic kind – which only adds to the hectic nature the film adopts, with any focus considerably drowned out in a sea of admittedly spectacular special effects that ultimately can’t hide the film’s horrendous script and flimsy motivation. I realise complaining about a script for a Michael Bay ‘Transformers’ film is particularly redundant, but the original film, and to some degree the first two sequels, proved that you need more than just thundering noises and well-timed slow-motion shots to fill your time. And whilst tackling the more mythological route and tapping into the origins of the Transformers is a welcome change of pace, the outcome of ‘The Last Knight’ proves much of the same: humans vs. robots = celluloid-ready mass destruction.
‘The Last Knight’ is really what you’d come to expect from the series at this point, and no deterring words from fellow audiences or critics will sway viewers opinions. The franchise has supremely dwindled in quality over the course of the decade they have been produced, and I would air on the side of caution for even the most enthusiastic of fans, but I don’t doubt there will still be those that find enjoyment in the illogical clutter Bay has so assuredly made his own.
My rating: 2/5