FILM REVIEW – TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT. With Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock, Stanley Tucci. Written by Art Marcum & Matt Holloway & Ken Nolan. Directed by Michael Bay. Rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of sci-fi action, language, and some innuendo. 149 minutes.
Folks, we have a winner: TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT is the worst movie of the year. That’s actually good news because, having hit bottom, it can only get better from here on in.
The fifth of a series of movies based on toy cars and trucks that turn into robots–or is it the other way around?–it is an incoherent mess that exists primarily so good robots, bad robots, and humans can fight with each for two-and-a-half hours. Why? It has something to do with Merlin’s staff. Yes, you read that right. The film opens with King Arthur and his knights fighting Saxon hordes and losing badly until Merlin (Stanley Tucci) enlists the help of the Autobots, the “good” robots.
With a helpful title card (“1600 years later”) we’re in the present, where elite human soldiers including Col. William Lennox (Josh Duhamel) are at war with all robots, and are seeking Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), a human inventor who is still loyal to Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen) and the Autobots. Meanwhile Optimus is back on his decimated home planet of Cybertron where he learns from Quintessa (voice of Gemma Chan) that only by destroying Earth can Cybertron return to life. And the key is–wait for it–Merlin’s staff.
Still following this? Wait, there’s more. Anthony Hopkins inexplicably shows up as Sir Edmund Burton to inform Cade that he is the “last knight” and newcomer to the series Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) is the only one who can recover the staff. And let’s not forget Megatron (voice of Frank Welker) who leads the Decepticons, and would like nothing more than to destroy Earth.
So all these characters are working at cross-purposes, under the direction of Michael Bay, who seems to have come to the conclusion that as long as things keep happening on screen, there’s no reason at all they have to make sense. Indeed, even if you’re paying closing attention, it’s hard to follow who is responsible any action, as explosions, car chases, and debris mix with cliched dialogue that rips off everything from “Scarface” to Shakespeare’s “Henry V.”
Presumably, large paychecks make up for the embarrassment of being associated with this mess, but there’s no question that there’s a fan base who have made the previous four films into hits and will enjoy having their senses pummeled yet again. That there’s an audience for “Transformers: The Last Knight” will be beyond belief for most people, but then we’re living at a time when most of the things in the news are similarly unbelievable.
If there’s a movie worse than this set for release this year, let’s hope the distributor has the good sense not to do it.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His latest novel is Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.