Transformers: The Last Knight

 

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Mark Wahlberg discovers that he is the Chosen One in this preposterous, over-long addition to the Hasbro toy franchise.

 

Transformers: The Last Knight

 

What do Leonardo da Vinci, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Stephen Hawking have in common? Well, according to the gospel of Michael Bay, they were all members of a secret society dedicated to keeping the truth about the Transformers out of the public domain. With the fifth instalment of his relentless franchise featuring the mutable toy figures, Michael Bay doesn’t so much re-write history as mythology, geography and meteorology as well. Casting his narrative net across the globe – Havana, Washington DC, London, Chicago, Oxford, Jordan and the Badlands of South Dakota – Bay dishes out his latest self-indulgent epic as if it were the CGI-resurrected dream of an eight-year-old recovering from a bad cannabis trip.

 

This time the director has coaxed Sir Anthony Hopkins into playing a cloth-capped, pipe-puffing lord of the manor who likes to throw his weight around. And as the very survival of our planet rests in the balance, Hopkins lets himself into the rear entrance of No. 10 Downing Street via the closed tube station of The Strand. As if. Then he proceeds to give the prime minister a tongue-lashing.

 

It transpires that Merlin, King Arthur’s magician and confidante, has only one descendant left, who happens to be Viviane Wembly (Laura Haddock, from TV’s The Level), a comely professor at ‘Oxford University.’ Only she can bring his magic staff back to life and use it as a weapon to defeat the apocalyptic onslaught of some very bad Transformers. To be fair, it appears to be their planet or ours, so one might understand the aliens’ motive. Of course, you just couldn’t have Transformers and human beings living side by side in the same multiverse. That would be ridiculous.

 

Helpfully, the film begins in the midst of an Arthurian battle in ‘The Dark Ages,’ where an inebriated Merlin (Stanley Tucci, of all people) appeals to the twelve Transformer Knights of Iacon to help King Arthur defeat the Saxons, who outnumber him a hundred to one. It’s all completely nuts but one can’t help but admire Michael Bay (and his four writers) for a certain chutzpah in unfolding such a preposterous scenario.

 

The problem with the film is not so much its impudence as its bombast, machine-gun editing and disregard for logic. Michael Bay is known for his love of size, machines, guns and blowing shit up, but this really does try the patience. By the time the film had hurtled past its first quarter of an hour, this critic was already exhausted and confused and dreading another 135 minutes of more explosions and silliness. And so the film ploughs on, with the director up-chucking his vision of Armageddon and of pre-historic monuments being destroyed by metallic extraterrestrials with familiar voices. Jim Carter, Downton Abbey’s Mr Carson, is the voice of Hopkins’ robotic butler (a sort of CGI C3PO), while the likes of John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Ken Watanabe and Omar Sy add to the babble. Mark Wahlberg is top-billed as a small-time inventor called Cade Yeager, but he’s really just there to flex his biceps and flash his abs. Sir Anthony steals the film.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel, Stanley Tucci, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock, Isabela Moner, John Turturro, Jerrod Carmichael, Santiago Cabrera, Glenn Morshower, Mitch Pileggi, Gemma Chan, Maggie Steed, Sara Stewart, Phoebe Nicholls, Rebecca Front, Mark Dexter, Pauline McLynn; and Voices of: Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Erik Aadahl, John Goodman, Ken Watanabe, Jim Carter, Steve Buscemi, Omar Sy.

 

Dir Michael Bay, Pro Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Ian Bryce, Screenplay Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan, Ph Jonathan Sela, Pro Des Jeffrey Beecroft, Ed Mark Sanger, John Refoua, Adam Gerstel, Roger Barton, Debra Neil-Fisher and Calvin Wimmer, Music Steve Jablonsky, Costumes Lisa Lovaas.

 

di Bonaventura Pictures/Hasbro Studios/Angry Films-Paramount Pictures.

148 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 22 June 2017. Cert. 12A.