Transformers: The Last Knight Movie review -- King Arthur meets robots in tragicomedy
Just when you think director Michael Bay cannot possibly squeeze any more out of the decade-old Transformers franchise, he comes out with his latest offering Transformers: The Last Knight. With seemingly every narrative and conflict being used in previous iterations, Michael Bay digs deep and introduces some truly ludicrous plot device in a desperate attempt to freshen up his carnival of robotic ridiculousness.
While the scenes with the Transformers aren’t any better or worse than in earlier iterations, The Last Knight's ridiculous plot indicates that, if the franchise isn't already dead, it's certainly on its last legs.
The movie centres around an end of the day's type scenario, where Optimus Prime has left Earth to find his creators. With both him and Megatron missing, and more Transformers making their way to planet Earth, humanity has started to imprison and destroy Transformers through the Transformer Reaction Force, a military organisation dedicated to destroying the robots.
The only respite for the Transformers is Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), who along with a team of Autobots still fight the good fight. All of that, however, is thrown into chaos when Optimus Prime is brainwashed by a Transformer god and tasked with destroying Earth. To stop him, and save Earth, Yeager and the Autobots have to liaise with a secret ancient order, and retrieve a secret weapon.
Who comes up with this?
If you walked in a few minutes late to Transformers: The Last Knight, you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd walked into the wrong movie screening. Beginning in the time of King Arthur, The Last Knight seems to carry on Hollywood’s refound fascination with mythological medieval Europe.
Already we've seen a reboot of King Arthur, and even The Mummy also had a bizarre European connection, however, neither of those movies handles this concept quite as clumsily as The Last Knight.
The movie takes the Transformers mythology all the way back to medieval Europe, where 12 Transformer knights joined forces with King Arthur and his knights, after granting Arthur's wizard Merlin an all powerful staff. This all powerful staff is the secret weapon that good and evil battle to gain control of.
While inherently stupid, this idea would be fine in isolation, however, it reverberates through the entirety of the movie, corrupting it to the point of no return.
The staff is introduced to the current day plot through a secret order, whose lone surviving member (Anthony Hopkins), identifies Yeager and Vivianne Wembley (Laura Haddock) as key to the retrieval of the staff.
What follows is the standard Michael Bay. There is a mix of action and explosions, as Yeager and Wembley attempt to recover the staff. However, all of it is constantly made sillier as we are repeatedly reminded of Merlin, Arthur and more mythological things that seem so out of touch with the Transformers they may as well have been the Smurfs.
A tired franchise
Right from the start, it is clear that this movie knows it has overstayed its welcome. The opening scenes with Arthur and Merlin almost feel like a parody, with Merlin (Stanley Tucci) phoning in an almost comedic performance.
This trend continues throughout the movie, as Wahlberg does his professional best to care, even as a mediocre script and hit and miss humour constantly fail him. Laura Haddock, as the token action movie eye candy, also does what little she has to do without much fuss. However, it seems patently clear that neither Wahlberg nor Haddock have much to work with.
Hopkins, while always fantastic, is sadly lumbered with the worst role in the movie -- the purveyor of the ridiculous medieval lore. Even while he does a good job, the bizarre plotline makes a mockery of his excellent acting.
With even Bay washing his hands off the next sequel, and Wahlberg doing the same, perhaps it is best if The Last Knight, was simply the last.
Should you see it?
If you're a Transformers fan, definitely. It has a whole host of Transformers, both old and new. It also has loads of the usual fighting, shooting and explosions to satisfy you. However, if you were hoping for any semblance of a story, this movie will drive you insane. We say give it a miss.