Live by the sword...

James Mot­tram

The National - News - Arts & Life - - Front Page -

The fifth bat­tle be­tween the Au­to­bots and De­cep­ti­cons is loud and rid­dled with clichés but has a few re­deem­ing mo­ments, writes

Transformers: The Last Knight Di­rec­tor: Michael Bay Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hop­kins, Laura Had­dock, Josh Duhamel, Peter Cullen me­chan­i­cal be­ings that trans­form in the blink of an eye into cars, jet planes, lor­ries and other ve­hi­cles.

This lat­est ef­fort be­gins in me­dieval times, pauses for a pit­stop dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, then winds up un­der­neath the ocean for a mega-show­down. In the midst of it all, Sir Anthony Hop­kins pre­sum­ably col­lects a size­able pay-packet for play­ing an ec­cen­tric English aris­to­crat who just hap­pens to be in tune with the Transformers (he has his own ro­bot but­ler) and a catas­tro­phe that is about to strike the planet.

To save the world, he needs the help of Yea­ger and Ox­ford Univer­sity history bof­fin Vi­vian Wem­b­ley (Laura Had­dock).

When the story proper kicks in, Au­to­bots leader Op­ti­mus Prime is float­ing through space (half-frozen, in one of the film’s choice shots). His De­cep­ti­con ri­val Me­ga­tron is nowhere to be seen and a law has been passed mak­ing the Transformers il­le­gal (no, do not ex­pect Bay to be mak­ing any tren­chant po­lit­i­cal state­ments about refugees and im­mi­grants here).

Yea­ger, mean­while, is hid­ing out in a Dakota junk­yard, un­able to even visit his col­lege-bound daugh­ter for fear of ar­rest.

Out in space, Op­ti­mus (voiced as ever with author­ity by Peter Cullen) ar­rives on his deso­late home planet, Cy­bertron, to find his “cre­ator”, Quintessa ( Gemma Chan), who forces him to re­turn to Earth to seek out a magic staff – last seen be­ing used by the myth­i­cal Mer­lin in Eng­land’s Dark Ages – which might help re­store life to his home­world.

This puts him on a col­li­sion course with a hos­tile Earth and means good old Op­ti­mus looks set to de­stroy his adopted planet. With help from Bum­ble­bee, Hound and the other Transformers, Yea­ger – “the cho­sen one” – must stop him.

Scripted by a trio of writ­ers, The Last Knight is an ab­so­lute en­dur- ance test across its 149-minute run­ning time. Full of taste­less mo­ments – not least a bat­tle that takes place around an­cient English mon­u­ment Stone­henge – it is about as so­phis­ti­cated as a 9- year- old boy’s se­cret di­ary out­pour­ings. Eng­land, where much of the sec­ond half of the film is set, is a land of polo- play­ing, Bar­bour- wear­ing, up­per- class id­iots, who look like they’ve parachuted in from the Made In Chelsea re­al­ity tele­vi­sion show.

In fair­ness, things gal­lop along well for the first hour or so, and Wahlberg does add a re­li­able, sta­bil­is­ing pres­ence. And while Had­dock is sad­dled with a cliché- rid­dled love- in­ter­est role, she does in­ject some zest into her char­ac­ter.

But no hu­man ac­tor can over- come Bay’s turned- up- to- 11 sound de­sign. With the film full of metal-mash­ing car­nage, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing an in­ter­minable fi­nal act, this is the loud­est block­buster of the sum­mer.

If you value your ears, you would be ad­vised to sit well away from the sur­round-sound speak­ers for this one.


Paramount Pic­tures / Bay Films / AP

Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yea­ger in Transformers: The Last Knight.

Paramount Pic­tures / Bay Films / AP

Me­ga­tron and Len­nox (Josh Duhamel) in Transformers: The Last Knight.

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