South Florida Times - - FILM - By JAKE COYLE

AP Film Writer

A con­cussed seren­ity sets in some­where in the mid­dle of the cease­less bal­let of metal and machismo in Michael Bay's "Trans­form­ers: The Last Knight." Freed of con­cerns like plau­si­bil­ity or story, you can sim­ply gape in won­der at the ruth­lessly thun­der­ous images in front of you.

Maybe that's the feel­ing of brain cells dy­ing a painful, an­guished death. It's a sen­sa­tion I imag­ine cor­nered box­ers some­times ex­pe­ri­ence while blow af­ter blow rains down upon them.

Dazed by the un­re­lent­ing dig­i­tal de­mo­li­tion on screen, thoughts go through your head like: 'Can this movie lit­er­ally crush me?' 'Is death by Dolby pos­si­ble?' and 'You know, it's re­ally time to get the car washed.'

By the time you've scraped your­self off the floor af­ter all 149 min­utes of the 3-D "The Last Knight," you feel the need to com­pen­sate for the sheer glut­tony of de­struc­tion, of un­re­lent­ing big­ness. Maybe fast for a lit­tle while, you think, or just sit qui­etly in a cor­ner.

Bay might be spin­ning an­other tale of Au­to­bot v. De­cep­ti­con in which the fate of the planet hangs in the bal­ance, but his real bat­tle is con­quer­ing you, the movie­goer. And make no mis­take about it. He's gonna win.

"Trans­form­ers: The Last Knight," is, if noth­ing else, a pum­mel­ing. The fifth in the fran­chise and sec­ond in the "Wahlberg Years" (Mark Wahlberg re­placed Shia LaBeouf as lead in the last in­stall­ment), "The Last Knight" con­tin­ues the Has­bro toy adap­ta­tions and ex­pands fur­ther into the alien ma­chines' mythol­ogy.

The script by Art Mar­cum, Matt Hol­loway and Ken Nolan ropes in a back­story in­volv­ing Arthurian leg­end, sug­gest­ing the magic of Mer­lin was noth­ing but Trans­former tech­nol­ogy.

Cen­turies later, the con­tin­ual ar­rival of Trans­form­ers on Earth con­nects to th­ese an­cient events. There are cru­cial ob­jects – Mer­lin's staff, a tal­is­man that at­taches it­self to Wahlberg's Au­to­bot-de­fend­ing Cade Yea­ger – that bring con­stantly ar­riv­ing Trans­form­ers, plum­met­ing in space ships from the sky, and even­tu­ally, the venge­ful leader of their home planet, Cy­bertron.

With Op­ti­mus Prime away on hol­i­day (or search­ing for some­thing or other back on Cy­ber­ton), the hu­man pop­u­la­tion has turned against the Trans­form­ers.

One can see why. They're swag­ger­ing, bick­er­ing bags of bolts who es­chew their best par­lor trick (trans­form­ing into cars and trucks) for avalanches of ammo.

There is, for a mo­ment, a touch of metaphor for im­mi­grant em­pa­thy in their un­for­tu­nate sta­tus, but it quickly gets buried in the mount­ing de­bris.

That is, at any rate, what I could make out. Stone­henge has some­thing to do with the plot, too, as does An­thony Hop­kins, who plays the lat­est in a long line of guardians to th­ese mys­ter­ies.

There's also an Ox­ford scholar (Laura Had­dock) skep­ti­cal of Round Ta­ble leg­end, and, briefly, an elite sci­en­tist (Tony Hale) whose in­sis­tence on solv­ing in­ter­ga­lac­tic prob­lems with silly things like physics is, here, a joke.

"Trans­form­ers" is like the anti"Mar­tian:” brawn over brains.

"This here's a big boy zone," an­nounces the Au­to­bot com­mando Hound (John Good­man) in a junk­yard. But he might as well be pro­vid­ing the movie's ethos.

Later there's a sub­ma­rine chase and a plan­e­tary bat­tle in the air as "The Last Knight" – an ex­er­cise in enor­mity – in­sa­tiably hur­tles to­ward feats of greater and greater grandios­ity. It's an empty pur­suit; there's no ex­plo­sion big enough to give Bay the fix he needs.

But what makes the "Trans­form­ers" movies dif­fer­ent from other block­buster colos­suses is Bay. What­ever his de­fi­cien­cies in other ar­eas (co­her­ence, emo­tions, women), he re­mains the most pro­fi­cient mas­ter of bigscreen rock 'em sock 'em may­hem.

His ma­nip­u­la­tion of scale is un­sur­passed, as is his abil­ity to syn­the­size ob­scene amounts of vis­ual ef­fects into an as­ton­ish­ingly fluid chore­og­ra­phy of color and chaos.

Af­ter two and half hours of pul­ver­iz­ing ac­tion, there's noth­ing to do but raise the white flag, ad­mit de­feat, and shud­der as you pass the the­ater for the lat­est "Cars" movie. No more, please.

"Trans­form­ers: The Last Knight," a Para­mount Pic­tures re­lease, is rated PG-13 by the Mo­tion Pic­ture As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica for "in­tense se­quences of sci-fi ac­tion vi­o­lence, brief sex­ual hu­mor and lan­guage." Run­ning time: 149 min­utes. Two stars out of four.


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