Action Adventure

'Transformers: The Last Knight' Film Review: Michael Bay's latest adds sophisticated British accents, but remains gloriously stupid

June 20, 2017Ben MK

What is it that defines a successful Transformers movie? Could it be the frequency of explosions, the ratio of wise-cracking robots to humans, or perhaps even the amount of enjoyment a certain Oscar-winning cast member appears to be deriving from chewing the scenery? If there's any correlation between these measures and quality, then the decade-old franchise may have finally reached its peak.

Directed once again by series veteran Michael Bay, Transformers: The Last Knight picks up after the events of 2014's Transformers: Age of Extinction, but the narrative stretches all the way back to the Dark Ages, where we learn that the giant alien robots' presence on Earth isn't a recent development. In fact, Sir Lancelot and the Knights of the Round Table were able to defeat their foes not with the aid of Merlin's magic — as told by Arthurian legend — but with some help from a powerful Cybertronian staff and a three-headed, fire-breathing robot dragon.

Fast forward 1,600 years, and the world is a much different place. Transformers are now public enemy number one (except in Cuba — why not), and as the ensuing war between humans and their former protectors rages on, any and all Autobots and Decepticons that remain have gone into hiding. Meanwhile, new Transformers are crashing to Earth on a regular basis, only to be hunted down by the TRF, a newly-formed, elite military outfit who patrol the rubble-filled streets of decimated cities with their own giant robots, mech-like tanks called Sentinels.

Not everyone has turned on the Transformers, though. Inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg, reprising his role from the last film), a spunky 14-year-old orphan named Izabella (Isabela Moner), and a British Lord by the name of Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) represent the humans who fight on the side of the Autobots. Then there's Oxford professor Viviane Wembley (Laura Haddock), the last descendant of Merlin, and hence the one person who can wield his legendary weapon, an artifact that plays an integral role in the increasingly convoluted storyline.

Together, they embark on a quest to retrieve Merlin's long-lost staff, as it happens to be the only thing that can stop Quintessa (Gemma Chan), a Cybertronian god who has not only set what remains of the planet Cybertron on a collision course with Earth, but who has also brainwashed the Autobots' steadfast leader, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), to do her bidding. Last but not least, let's not forget about Megatron (Frank Welker), who isn't the main villain this time around, but who nonetheless stands ready to antagonize the Autobots at a moment's notice.

Suffice to say, trying to decipher the plot of The Last Knight — a joint effort on the part of screenwriters Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan that owes as much to Bay's Armageddon as it does to previous Transformers installments — starts out as a seemingly achievable proposition. However, by the time the film reaches its chaotic and drawn-out third act, most viewers will have likely already given up, pummeled into submission by the non-stop barrage of bad jokes, cringeworthy dialogue and over-the-top action along the way.

That said, at least the movie maintains a fun attitude and doesn't take itself too seriously, which is essentially its one saving grace. Not just stupid, but gloriously stupid, and with little to no redeeming values for anyone over the age of 12, The Last Knight is the kind of film that makes you wonder why an Oscar-winner like Hopkins would want anything to do with it in the first place. As it turns out, not only is he in on the joke, but the joke is on us.

Transformers: The Last Knight releases June 21st, 2017 from Paramount Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of sci-fi action, language, and some innuendo. Its runtime is 2 Hrs. 29 Mins.

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