Transformers: The Last Knight Falls on its long sword

Movie Review: Transformers – The Last Knight

Michael Bay’s fifth Transformers monstrosity features the ever-charming Mark Wahlberg kicking mechanical can down the curb once more in a messy collision of story, character and Saturday morning merchandizing

Transformers: The Last Knight

2/5

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Isabela Moner, Josh Duhamel, Stanley Tucci, Santiago Cabrera, Jerrod Carmichael

Directed by: Michael Bay

Running time: 2 hrs 29 mins

Rating: PG-13

Walk Loudly and Carry a Really Big Sword: Freud would have a lot to say about Michael Bay

By Katherine Monk

A traffic jam. Stuck in a car for two and a half hours surrounded by the constant hum of machinery and random outbursts of rage. That’s what Transformers: The Last Knight feels like.

A scrap heap of borrowed bits and pieces chopped and welded into Michael Bay’s monstrous chassis, this “Final Chapter” in the toy-branded saga revs from start to finish — without going anywhere.

Sure, this adventure starring Mark Wahlberg does see the franchise’s robot hero, Optimus Prime, floating into a galaxy far, far away in search of his homeworld, Cybertron. Bay also stacks one action sequence on top of the other. He even exploits a grotesque cat and mouse structure to give us elaborately choreographed chase scenes.

Yet, for all the explosions and attempts at suspense, this movie has such a lumbering core of boringly stupid story, it’s almost impossible for it to move without great noisy bouts of screaming and grinding metal gears.

Optimus Prime is off-planet looking for his creator. Back on Earth, humans have declared war on the Transformers. A Gestapo-like force called the TRF is hunting down the remaining outlaws, including Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) and his big, yellow, bumpered buddy Bumblebee — a car, an autobot, a loyal friend.  They’ve also got their eyes on a kid named Izabella (Isabela Moner), hiding out in the ruins with a whole different kind of robot she calls Canopy.

…For all the explosions and attempts at suspense, this movie has such a lumbering core of boringly stupid story, it’s almost impossible for it to move without great noisy bouts of screaming and grinding metal gears.

Then another robot is found in a spaceship and he’s got a connection to King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable. Merlin (Stanley Tucci) had a staff that holds all the power of Cybertron, making him the powerful wizard he was. If ever a wizard there was.

Centuries later, everyone wants the big stick buried with Merlin’s body. But only Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) knows all the secret information required to access that vault hidden somewhere in Britain. Enter pretty lady who looks like Megan Fox, Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock), plus some gratuitous footage of Josh Duhamel doing stuff, and the central pieces of Bay’s expensive ride are bolted down.

Everyone whose work is on the screen, from the actors to the special effects crews, has a lot to be proud of. The whole production looks slick. It’s the scope that’s untenable. It’s constantly losing focus, distracted by its own need for adrenaline and off-colour commentary.

For the viewer, it’s not the constant barrage of images slamming against the back of one’s retina that causes you to drift. It’s the onslaught of familiarity.

For the viewer, it’s not the constant barrage of images slamming against the back of one’s retina that causes you to drift. It’s the onslaught of familiarity.

Sometimes, it’s Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs. Other times, it’s Star Wars and its droids, or Robocop and its mechanical enforcers. There’s always something in the frame that feels a bit too familiar to make any of Bay’s effort come off as original.

Even Wahlberg and Hopkins do a bit of their own zombie dance, pulling bits from past parts to assemble some sense of character that clearly didn’t exist on the page. And finally, that’s where this movie stalls.

The Last Knight gasps for credibility from the opening sequence with King Arthur, only to choke on an entire melee with Autobots and the Third Reich. And that’s just the beginning. For some reason, the robots can stop time, but they still have to drive everywhere.

After all, this movie has to appeal to all of those kids who grew up clutching their favourite piece of articulated plastic. Transformers made a dent in the psyche because they pulled two big boy loves together: Robots and vehicles of all kinds. Plus dinosaurs.

It’s a precious toy box. The Japanese cartoon brought it to life with love and human respect. Michael Bay soaks it in a vat of steroidal violence and 3D stimulants, then gets his overbuilt creations to destroy just about everything in their path — including his own movie.

It’s a precious toy box. The Japanese cartoon brought it to life with love and human respect. Michael Bay soaks it in a vat of steroidal violence and 3D stimulants, then gets his overbuilt creations to destroy just about everything in their path — including his own movie.

It’s a classic Frankenstein story — filled with all the same tantalizing Freudian angles. If only Bay recognized it, this monstrosity may have had a chance. Instead, we get something so mechanical, so lacking any degree of human transformation, it may as well have been built by a machine.

@katherinemonk

Photos courtesy of Paramount
Katherine Monk’s movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes
THE EX-PRESS.CA, June 21, 2017

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A traffic jam. Stuck in a car for two and a half hours surrounded by the constant hum of machinery and random outbursts of rage. That’s what Transformers: The Last Knight feels like. A scrap heap of borrowed bits and pieces chopped and welded into Michael Bay’s monstrous chassis, this “Final Chapter” in the toy-branded saga revs from start to finish — without going anywhere. At least Mark Wahlberg is always charismatic. -- Katherine Monk

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