Ro­bots in dis­grace

This in­stal­ment should’ve just been named Trans­form­ers: The Last Straw.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Movies - Re­view by MICHAEL CHEANG en­ter­tain­ment@thes­

Trans­form­ers: The Last Knight Di­rec­tor: Michael Bay

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel, Stan­ley Tucci, An­thony Hop­kins, John Tur­turro, Is­abela Moner, Laura Had­dock

MICHAEL Bay has fi­nally done it. He has fi­nally made a Trans­form­ers movie that even I, one of the most fer­vent Trans­form­ers fans and apol­o­gists, can­not bring my­self to de­fend. Af­ter four movies of whit­tling away bits of it, Bay has com­pletely and ut­terly de­stroyed my child­hood with Trans­form­ers: The Last Knight.

Oh, you want to know the story first? Well, it goes some­thing like this: Some 1,600 years ago, King Arthur and his knights were about to be over­run by their en­e­mies, but Mer­lin goes to an old space­ship to ask some an­cient Trans­form­ers for as­sis­tance.

He then gets help from a three­headed ro­bot dragon, as well as some kind of mag­i­cal staff that al­lows him to... ac­tu­ally, we have no idea what he does with it, but we’re told it’s quite pow­er­ful.

Back in the present day, Trans­form­ers are per­sona non grata in the United States, and Cade Yea­ger (Mark Wahlberg) is help­ing what’s left of the Au­to­bots to hide away from both De­cep­ti­cons and the hu­mans’ TRF (Trans­form­ers Re­ac­tion Farce, sorry, Force).

He later learns that a Cy­bertro­n­ian tal­is­man he found is the key to find­ing Mer­lin’s staff, and is whisked away to Bri­tain where he meets Sir Ed­mund Bur­ton (an ex­po­si­tion-spout­ing An­thony Hop­kins, who at least looks like he’s hav­ing fun).

Bur­ton is the last liv­ing mem­ber of the Witwic­can Or­der, an an­cient or­gan­i­sa­tion of Trans­form­ers al­lies, and he sends Yea­ger and beau­ti­ful pro­fes­sor Vi­viane Wem­bly (Laura Had­dock) on a quest to look for the staff.

Mean­while, af­ter drift­ing around space for a bit, Op­ti­mus Prime lands on a gi­ant space broc­coli that is ap­par­ently Cy­bertron, the Trans­form­ers’ homeworld.

There, a float­ing ro­botic squid lady ex­plains that Mer­lin’s staff is a pow­er­ful Cy­bertro­n­ian arte­fact that can help re­vive the dead planet. Op­ti­mus agrees to help her re­store Cy­bertron (which is on col­li­sion course with Earth), ef­fec­tively turn­ing into the Au­to­bots’, well, neme­sis.

Look, as bad as they were, I had al­ways found some re­deem­ing fac­tor in the pre­vi­ous live-ac­tion Trans­form­ers movies.

The first (and still the best) one ap­pealed to the lit­tle kid in me, plus watch­ing Op­ti­mus Prime, Bum­ble­bee and gang trans­form on-screen for the first time was a dream come true.

The sec­ond (Re­venge Of The Fallen) had a ter­ri­ble story and script, but see­ing Op­ti­mus com­bin­ing with Jet­fire in the end still got me cheer­ing.

The third (Dark Side Of The Moon) ... well, there was Shock­wave, Sentinel Prime, and Op­ti­mus Prime cut­ting Me­ga­tron’s head off. (Look, I’m grasp­ing at straws here, OK?)

Any­way, the fourth one, The Age Of Ex­tinc­tion, was where I re­ally started los­ing what lit­tle faith I had left in the fran­chise. But hey, look! There’s Op­ti­mus Prime as in his old box truck al­ter­nate mode! And the Di­nobots! Yeah!

But af­ter watch­ing this lat­est one, The Last Knight, I found my­self hop­ing to high heav­ens that this re­ally will be Bay’s fi­nal Trans­form­ers movie.

Why? Be­cause this isn’t a Trans­form­ers movie. It’s an empty, ac­tion-packed ves­sel of loud gun­fire and ex­plo­sions, noisy mil­i­tary mus­cle, big car crashes, and in­dis­tin­guish­able alien shapes crash­ing into each other, which just hap­pens to have some fa­mil­iar ro­bots and Mark Wahlberg in it.

Any ref­er­ence or fan ser­vice to Trans­form­ers lore just comes across more like lip ser­vice than any­thing else.

It’s like Bay and Has­bro’s ex­ec­u­tives had a meet­ing one day to throw out names from Trans­form­ers his­tory they could shoe­horn into the movie. (“We had this line called Head­mas­ters. You should use that. Oh, we had THIS guy and THAT guy in the 1986 an­i­mated film. You should to­tally have him in the movie. The fans would love it!”)

Even the age-old ar­gu­ment of “I’m just watch­ing it for the ac­tion” doesn’t hold wa­ter here.

The movie is ac­tion-packed, yes, but it’s all just ac­tion for ac­tion’s sake. Never have I seen a movie that has so much hap­pen­ing on screen, but with hardly any­thing ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing.

At one point, you even won­der who every­one is shoot­ing at, be­cause the ac­tion is cut so fast and hap­haz­ardly that it’s never clear who the bad guys ac­tu­ally are.

There are plenty of chases too – a car chase, a space­ship chase, a drone chase, and even a sub­ma­rine chase – but it’s as if every­one is just chas­ing each other in cir­cles with­out go­ing any­where.

Speak­ing of bad guys, Me­ga­tron and the De­cep­ti­cons are crim­i­nally un­der­used, and the bro­ken bad Op­ti­mus is com­pletely wasted. Oh, and yes, Op­ti­mus, we know what your name is. You don’t have to keep say­ing “I AM OP­TI­MUS PRIME” ev­ery time you start a sen­tence.

I could go on and on about just how bad this movie is, and how in­sult­ing it is to Trans­form­ers fans in gen­eral, but I’m run­ning out of space.

So, for the love of Primus, if you love the Trans­form­ers – if you RE­ALLY, RE­ALLY love the Trans­form­ers – please do your­self a favour: Go watch the car­toons in­stead. At least they won’t make you feel like a part of your in­ner spark just died.

Bum­ble­bee couldn’t get away from Michael Bay’s ex­plo­sions fast enough. — UIP Malaysia

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