Bay’s final bow a bloated mess
When Optimus Prime flew off into space stating that he was “coming for” his creators at the end of 2014’s Age of Extinction, the prospect of another Transformers flick didn’t seem quite so tiresome.
After all, surely the emphasis would shift from the increasingly annoying human elements to a full-on robots-versus-robots intergalactic showdown?
Well, I am afraid not as fifth series entry The Last Knight serves up more of the same – an even more frightening outcome with this the first in a minimum of three further films planned in a Transformers expanded universe.
Trying to sum up the story for this bizarre sequel – penned by four writers – would probably take up the majority of the rest of this review; just know there is a load of bunkum to get through involving the Transformers’ home world, Cybertron, ancient brotherhoods and King Arthur and Merlin – yep, no joke.
But whereas the franchise’s previous efforts to link Transformers’ mythology with human history – namely third film Dark of the Moon’s clever take on the Apollo 11 landing and Chernobyl disaster – worked well, The Last Knight’s 484 AD prologue and subsequent storylines feel forced, and will leave you scratching your head.
Michael Bay is once again back behind the camera – reportedly for the final time in the series – and his fifth Transformers outing feels like a middle finger up to his critics calling for a more restrained approach; he has a formula and is sticking to it, whether we like it or not.
He tries his best to ensure popcorn thrills and keep fans of the franchise happy, but bombards the audience with an overload of characters, special effects and, of course, explosions.
What Bay has consistently managed, though, is to attract big name stars to his Transformers world and this time Anthony Hopkins joins in the carnage.
His eccentric English lord and a returning Stanley Tucci embrace the mayhem with the fun flourish it deserves, which is just as well as the rest of the human cast struggles to stand out from the CGI-heavy pack.
Mark Wahlberg is back following the events of Age of Extinction but does not convince in a straight man action hero role, while newcomers Laura Haddock and Isabela Moner will not be remembered long after the end credits – with the latter’s character bearing a striking resemblance to Star Wars’ Rey.
In what has become a franchise staple, the mid-section is flabbier than Jabba the Hutt after a buffet, and the script’s attempts at comedy miss the mark.
It all builds to a cluttered-but-actionpacked climax at Stonehenge and another promising end credits sting.
Whether the sixth entry can succeed where The Last Knight failed and build on that promise may depend on who replaces Bay in the director’s chair.
Up against it Optimus Prime faces a new set of challenges