Bay’s nonsensical, numbingly awful baby.
Transformers, the first entry in this colossal franchise, was released a whopping ten years ago (before Shia transformed into a loose cannon). It was also the only entry that can be honestly acclaimed, as the charm and thrill that ran through it faded like a fart in the wind through the following sequels. Let’s not forget, Transformers was formerly a cartoon, adored by children and adults alike. It’s important to remember that, because Michael Bay has. Critics slammed the follow ups for incoherent, painfully boring plots, lacklustre action and wooden dialogue – does the fifth entry, The Last Knight, veer away from that? Absolutely not.
All Transformers are now illegal on Earth, which has only heightened the raging battle between them and the TRF (Transformers Reaction Force). With otherworldly bots planning to destroy humanity, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) teams up with a mysterious British figure (Anthony Hopkins) and professor (Laura Haddock) to find a staff which will save the world.
The mythos of the series is furiously expanded in this entry. The film opens with flaming catapults over the Paramount mountains into a battle scene ripped straight out of Gladiator, only with quicker, rougher cuts and a lack of gravitas. We learn that this is Lancelot’s army, awaiting wizard Merlin’s magic to help them. What does this have to do with the Transformers? Well, we find Merlin (played by Stanley Tucci, who had a role in Age of Extinction, because f**k continuity right?) being gifted a mighty staff (stereotypical mcguffin) from an ancient Transformer, warned that dark forces will return for it some day. Why was this Transformer there? It’s probably explained somewhere in the film’s plot-hole ridden scribbles (sorry, *script) but honestly the backstory goes beyond comprehension. Also, what did this bot transform from? A horse’s cart maybe?
At a whopping two-and-a-half hours, it is a total drag. Whilst the second half begins to balance out, the first takes pleasure in globe-trotting without reason. Our reintroduction to Wahlberg’s character is almost a deus ex machina, literally coming out of nowhere to save a few kids who stupidly entered an alien containment area. This area, by the way, is being constantly surveilled by the TRF, with robot sentinels everywhere, but sure, Wahlberg can jump in with Bumblebee easily because its Bay.
Wahlberg really, really tries to embrace the material, but his dialogue, particularly with Haddock is cliché-packed and cringe inducing. Void of any believable chemistry too, the pair are not meant to be. Hopkins is a minor highlight amongst the lows, bringing an admirable wit, such as constantly telling characters (including the Prime Minister) to shut up. The cast in general though, including the return of Josh Duhamel’s kick-ass Colonel, add nothing to the outing.
Thankfully, there is plenty of Autobot on Decepticon action to be had. Tick the boxes folks, you’ll have your slo-mo shots in abundance, sparks flying everywhere and enough clinks and clunks to satisfy any fan – although you could just drop 15 toolboxes for the same effect. Bumblebee is the star of the show, with Optimus turned Nemesis Prime (don’t worry about that, like many of the narrative turns here it is soon forgotten) taking up little screen time. The special effects work remains outstanding, epic on the grandest of scales, and intricately detailed by his reliable team. Of course you’ll smile at robots knocking lumps out each other, that’s what you’re there for.
But it’s deeply concerning that this is the rather insulting brainchild of a writers room specifically created to ensure a healthy future for the series. As well as this entry, there are further films planned including, god forbid, spin offs (stay out of our history please). If this is truly Bay’s last seat in the director’s chair, it is a definitive “f**k you” to every hater out there. It is an appalling, chaotic, egotistical portrait of Bay’s greatest flaws and guilty pleasures, and as much as you may hate it, he does work hard to try entertain people.
To sum it up…
Maybe, like Optimus Prime’s speeches would imply, the Transformers series requires a further understanding. Or, maybe, they’ve simply transformed into disasters.
Rating: ABSOLUTE MINCE!
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Author: Cameron Frew