TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (Movie Review)

Transformers5
*1/2 out of ****
Rated PG-13

(for violence and intense sequences of sci-fi action, language, and some innuendo)
Released: June 22, 2017
Runtime: 150 minutes
Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock, Isabela Moner, Josh Duhamel, Jerrod Carmichael, Stanley Tucci, Santiago Cabrera

Transformers movies are the worst. Just ask anyone. Yet Michael Bay keeps making them because, despite being the most popular franchise to mock and ridicule, people keep watching them.

Loud. Bombastic. Chaotic. Indulgent. A soulless metal-on-metal orgy of violence that’s both headache inducing and mind-numbing all at the same time, not to mention utterly confusing. Read any previous scathing review aimed at the first four movies in the Transformers saga (Parts 2 through 4 especially) and the same gripes will apply here in this fifth – and allegedly final – installment, Transformers: The Last Knight.

This time around, Bay expands the ever-evolving makeshift mythos to reveal that the alien Autobots have been helping protect Planet Earth for 1600 years. Now, however, they’re deemed threats to world order, so they’re being rounded up by a military task force. Cade Yeagar (Mark Wahlberg) is also a wanted man, covertly trekking the world to help rescue Transformers from capture, and living at a secret junkyard base that also serves as an Autobot sanctuary.

How this low-tech refuge eludes the tracking capabilities of the U.S. government is a mystery (well, until the movie needs it to be found), but plot holes and logical inconsistences are all part of this franchise’s milieu. Nevertheless, when the task force makes a deal with the devils – aka Decepticons – to find the stray Autobots, the cover for Yeagar’s getaway is blown, and everything else starts to blow up with it.

There’s a whole other layer, too, about the discovery of a link between Earth and Cybertron (the Transformer planet). This new information puts Earth in peril, turns Optimus Prime to Nemesis Prime, and it all builds up toward – you guessed it – a possible apocalypse.

For excessive measure, there’s a mythology thread that I don’t even have the energy to get into but, suffice it to say, it turns Yeagar into a Chosen One and the new academic hottie Vivian (Laura Haddock, aka Star-Lord’s mom Meredith Quill) into the final link in a family tree dating back to Merlin the magician, making her the sole genetic heir who can access an ancient relic and stop the devastation that’s coming. This would also seem to imply that Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky is dead now, but really, who cares?

The worst part of Bay’s patented obnoxious moviemaking is its pace. Scenes and shots are cut so quickly, and constantly, that your ability to process what you’re watching can’t keep up. It’s a real shame, too, because the lush, meticulous images that Bay crafts are actually pretty spectacular, especially with IMAX cameras. He just can’t sit on one for more than a second or two, and it’s maddening.

For all the frenzied nonsense that this movie vomits up and onto the screen, in a style so kinetically incoherent that it’s impossible to keep everything and everyone straight, the film’s worst attribute is actually its run time. Cut an hour out of its two-and-a-half hour length, make it a tight 90-minute special effects fireworks show of things blowing up real good (ditch the belabored mythology and flat robot comedy bits especially), and you’ve got yourself a dumb-but-thrilling multiplex movie ride.

Instead, like the others before it, Transformers: The Last Knight is a pummeling assault of visual and auditory monotony that would be fun if it didn’t relentlessly wear you down, and out.

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