Bay’s fi­nal bow a bloated mess

Rutherglen Reformer - - News from the Pews -

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

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