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Transformers: The Last Knight - DVD Review

Transformers: The Last Knight

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 1 out of 5

INCOHERENT, creatively bankrupt and excessive to the point of tedium, Michael Bay’s farewell to the Transformers franchise is a deafening mess that will disappoint and enrage all but the most loyal of fans.

Envisaged as a way of expanding the mythology and to set up new possibilities, the film instead takes all of the worst elements of past Transformers films and lumps them together to create an energy-sapping endurance test.

Plot and logic are virtually non-existent, character building is absent and the dialogue, when not shouted, is risible. Indeed, there is very little to redeem this fifth entry into the billion dollar franchise… with even the often lauded special effects struggling to offer anything really eye-catching.

The story, if you can call it that, finds Earth at war with the Autobots and Optimus Prime absent and searching for his home planet, Cybertron. Once there, he meets Quintessa, the current ruler of the decaying Cybertron, who turns him bad and sends him back to Earth to retrieve an all-powerful staff… a weapon of mass destruction that could destroy the Earth and pave the way for Cybertron’s rebirth.

Standing in his way is Mark Wahlberg’s returning Cade Yeager, now estranged from his daughter, but enlisted by an English lord (Anthony Hopkins) to help an Oxford professor (Laura Haddock) form a resistance of humans and robots that can save the planet.

Along the way, co-scriptwriters Bay, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan get to play fast and loose with world history, commencing with a sequence in the Dark Ages that sees King Arthur and Merlin team up with the Autobots, and which flashes back to a Nazi occupied Britain being liberated by an elite Transformers team led by Bumblebee. Oh yes, and it was also a Transformer that killed Hitler.

If some of this sounds coherent, then think again. Bay’s film seldom stands still long enough for any of this to really hang together, let alone make sense. Rather, The Last Knight feels like a stitched together collection of self-referencing action sequences that show a total disregard for the normal conventions of storytelling.

The much heralded turning bad of Optimus Prime feels secondary for most of the film, only really coming into play for the lengthy final third. But even then, any shock value in seeing him confront Bumblebee is negated by the scattershot nature of the direction. It’s often very hard to see what’s going on, let alone understand it or care about it.

Similarly, characters are introduced and then thrown under the bus – not that human emotion has ever been a Bay strength. This time around, though, the disregard for anything approaching soul or humanity is staggering.

Transformers: The Last Knight

Wahlberg is a toothless central hero, Hopkins is content to playing things maddeningly eccentric and Haddock is mere eye candy (and a virtual look-alike for Megan Fox). Of the returning ‘franchise favourites’, Josh Duhamel never gets the chance to explain why he’s suddenly hunting autobots as opposed to allying with them and John Turturro gets stranded in Cuba and then forgotten. Newcomers such as Isabela Moner’s street savvy survivor feel totally unnecessary and add nothing.

Bay-bashers who have hitherto struggled to find anything positive to say about the Transformers franchise may roll their eyes and ask ‘what’s new?’ about all this. But at least they may even credit the director with being able to deliver an eye-catching set piece.

Alas, with The Last Knight he even struggles to present one of these. Rather, he seems content to revisit past stunts, with the sight of Wahlberg and Haddock sliding down a tumbling building or spaceship, a la Shia LaBeouf and company in Dark of the Moon, repeated to the point of excess.

There are also screen-grab like-for-likes of sequences from The Rock and Bad Boys, albeit revisited with much less verve. While attempts to tip his hat to other franchises, most notably Star Wars in the form of TIE-fighter style drones and a grumpy C3PO style servant bot, merely serve to highlight the chasm that exists between the two worlds: one full of emotional complexity; the other a clunking, emotion-free shell.

If anything, Bay’s decision to reference other films and shows (from Game of Thrones to Monty Python via Independence Day and Star Wars) shows just how creatively bankrupt this franchise has become, which bodes extremely badly for any future plans to expand this into an inter-linking universe a la Marvel.

Hence, what started as something of a guilty pleasure that genuinely dazzled on a technical level now feels like a bloated, joyless cash-grabber that epitomises all that’s bad about so much of Hollywood’s approach to extending its franchises. The Last Knight is a genuinely awful experience.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 149mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: October 30, 2017