TRANSFORMERS 5: THE LAST KNIGHT – Review
It’s summer, so director/producer Michael Bay brings out another installment of the toy-based franchise. In TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, the good robot/car Transformers called the Autobots are at war with both humans and their perpetual enemies, the bad car/robots the Decepticons – again.
At about two and half hours, TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT is a long, dull slog of disorienting, camera-spinning CGI with little actual entertainment.
But wait…”knight?” What do knights have to do with this perpetual robot/human/robot war? It seems that after four movies where the transformers fight in the streets and skies of the good old USA, the creators behind this franchise felt a need for a change for the fifth movie. So let’s throw in a little King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table! There isn’t actually a lot of King Arthur, but there are Sir Lancelot and the magician Merlin, played by Stanley Tucci. In this version of the legend, the Transformers are behind Merlin’s magic.
Mark Wahlberg returns as the Autobots’ ally, would-be inventor Cade Yeager. We also get Anthony Hopkins as an eccentric English lord and Laura Haddock as a pretty Oxford professor. At the start of the story, Autobot leader Optimus Prime has gone off-planet on a quest and Cade (Walhberg), his vocally-challenged transformer buddy Bumblebee and a ragtag group of other transformers are hiding out in an U.S. The government has declared war on all transformers, and Cade and his crew have a bounty on their heads. Josh Duhamel plays a steely-eyed, strong-jawed American military officer hunting Cade and the transformers. The tale also adds a few kid characters, led by a feisty girl named Izabella (Isabela Moner), but these characters quickly fade away in all the explosions and fights.
The trip to the past is brief, and we quickly come back to the present for the usual Transformers action. After battles in America, we get more chases in the streets of London and general mayhem battles in merry ole England and then some globe-spanning destruction.
However, any change is purely superficial. It is still director Michael Bay’s signature action movie style – meaning the action is all about CGI where things fly pass the camera, turning end-over-end, while the camera spins in circles, so you cannot tell what is actually happening in most action scenes. When that is not happening, the characters are usually running or driving, in chases that end in the next battle. The characters strike brave poses, swoop in for the rescue, crack jokes – all the usual stuff.
Like all the movies in this franchise, TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT is light on plot and character development, and big on CGI and toss-away lines. The main point is to have non-stop battles in which cameras spin in dizzying fashion, special effects buildings explode and send things and people flying through the air. Robots transform in and out of car-configuration, while the humans and robots trade quips.
More than most summer action entertainment, this franchise aimed at kids has always seemed more about selling toys and CGI effects, and it has not improved over its iterations. There are few, very few reasons, parents would want their kids to see this movie. It has a perfunctory stick-by-your-friends message but also (like several recent entertainment films) has a little anti-science message, where magic trumps those bumbling scientists.
Of course, a few new characters/toys are introduced but even they quickly vanish into the swirling, disorienting battle. The cast are asked to do little more than toss off quips and run from CGI threats. OK, Hopkins does a little more talking and less running, but still.
At first, it looks like this sequel will finally wrap up the franchise and settle this war for all time, and this critic was willing to give it a little credit for doing that. But no – a clip in the end credits reveals that there is another Transformers sequel to come.
If you liked the previous Transformers movies, TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT will fulfill your expectations. If you are not a fan of the franchise or or Michael Bay’s directorial style generally, this film will not change your mind about either.
RATING: 1 out of 5 stars