Transformers: The Last Knight is another unnecessary Hollywood drag
There's too much going on in the movie that you understand too little of it to enjoy it well enough.
The movie starts off in the Dark Ages, showing King Arthur and his Knights of the Roundtable at a war they are badly losing.
Sir Lancelot and the rest of the knights are trying to convince Arthur that the magician Merlin he is relying on for miraculous victory is never going to show up.
I frantically dug into my pocket to check the movie title on my ticket stub just to be sure I had not bought the wrong ticket or been directed to the wrong room.
My worry didn't vanish until I saw a drunk Merlin have a conversation with an alien robot who hands him a staff and, with 11 other robots, morphs into a three-headed dragon that changes the tide of the battle in Arthur's favour.
That was when I was convinced I was watching a Transformers movie.
That was also the biggest excitement I got from it in its long 149 minutes run time.
After four movies spread over a decade, it is wise to adjust expectations of what a franchise represents.
There have always been widespread complaints about how director Michael Bay has turned his nose up at weaving compelling stories, while burying that lapse under an orgy of fanciful explosions.
These complaints are old and valid, and Bay does not shy away from his formula just to fit anyone's vision of what his movies should be about.
Like Bay himself once said in response to his critics, "I make movies for teenage boys. Oh dear, what a crime."
This is why, in the earlier reviews of this movie, it was surprising to see people still be up in arms with Bay for mixing the same fiery potion for this fifth movie in his Transformers franchise that has grossed millions.
Going into the cinema, I had made up my mind that I just wanted some really good explodey action filled with robot on robot crime.
Nothing prepared me for the heap of terrible drab show on offer.
Bay’s first and most fatal mistake with The Last Knight is that he tries to make the movie present a deeper mythology than the franchise has tried its hand at before, which is how we end up with a storyline from Arthur’s Dark Ages that the movie never returns from.
The problem with this layering is that it made the story unnecessarily complex and confusing, and this spilled into the action that people like me were sitting in the cinema for.
Mark Wahlberg returns as inventor and autobots fanboy/protector Cade Yeager. He takes in a surrogate daughter in orphan tomboy Izabella (Isabela Moner) who’s minimally useful and largely annoying.
Newcomer Laura Haddock plays Viviane Wembly, a British Professor who is a sceptic of Arthurian legend but, unknowingly, a direct descendant of one, and is, of course as a rule, central to the events of the story.
Anthony Hopkins, one of the bearable highlights of the movie, is Sir Edmund Burton, a caretaker of Arthurian/Transformers legend who forcibly brings the antagonists together to save the world.
After flying off into space in the last movie, Age of Extinction, Optimus Prime finally gets to his desolate home planet of Cybertron where he meets a God-like extraterrestrial being that has evil plans for Earth, which is actually named Unicron.
Megatron returns as the big bad guy who’s always chasing whatever the good guys are protecting.
And in good Transformers tradition, there's a military force that's always at the end of the queue, chasing its own tails and making a habit of getting in the way most of the time.
There's also new breeds of alien robots to keep up with here: Dinobots from the last movie, robot Knights of Cybertron, and Infernocons.
The Last Knight goes through too many random shifts in tone that drag the action down.
At this point, after five movies, the action is only a little bit entertaining; it’s not near engaging enough.
At some point in the movie, even though I didn’t have to recheck my ticket stub this time, you feel like you are watching a Star Wars movie complete with a chosen one hero and a funnier C-3PO-like android.
There's also a Game of Thrones feel to the opening battle sequence especially with the three-headed dragon, as well as a game-like introduction of some Decepticons that’s reminiscent of Suicide Squad.
Bay is very consistent with recycling old ideas here. He even throws in a Nazi GermanyWWII scene just for kicks.
Unsurprisingly for a Bay movie, there are still wild impressive stunts in the middle of all of this chaos, but they are too few and far between to create a lasting or meaningful impression.
The movie's attempts at creating emotional substance between its characters is undermined by its humour overkill so much it's hard to give them any believable story arcs.
The chemistry between Yeager and Viviane suffers from this, same with the one between him and Izabella.
Quintessa (Gemma Chan), the Wicked Witch from Space, is a dull replacement as the main villain of the movie.
This is probably why Bay still kept Megatron around. He's not the dominating evil he used to be, but at least he's an energetic presence.
Optimus Prime is bewitched to do Quintessa's bidding, and it's exciting seeing him play the dark knight for once, up until that spell breaks and we're back to regular good-natured preachy 'save-the-world' Prime. Boring.
The movie is funny sometimes. Some of Bay's digs at humour hit the mark splendidly, especially with Cogman, Edmund's sociopathic robot butler who is an absolute delight.
At other times, scripted lines like, "Don’t kill the messenger or the messenger will kill you" makes you reflect on the life choices that led up to that moment you're sitting there, watching this mind-wreck.
The Last Knight is engaging until your popcorn runs out; once it does, all you get is cheerless boredom and drowsiness.
For all of Quintessa's bloodthirsty villainy, the true monster here is Michael Bay.
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