Transformers: The Last Knight (12A)
Running time 2hr 29min
MICHAEL Bay’s Transformers franchise has become a byword for hyper-budget diarrhoea; whatever ‘fan base’ it once had came of age years ago, and the series staggers on with all the airheaded petulance of its rusty robot subjects, its very existence in 2017 owed to no higher force beyond the director’s inanity and the distributor’s greed. Indeed, there’s apparently A DOZEN further movies in various stages of production, so watch this putrid space, Earthlings…
To spare you all the flowery platitudes: The Last Knight is the worst Transformers film yet. No buts, no ifs – were this any other franchise, one might even posit that its sheer dreadfulness sets a benchmark, if not for the certainty that the next instalment will be even more downright repulsive. It’s not just that the plot is utterly unfathomable, nor that the movie comes packaged with a genuine atrocity of a script (“that voice haunts my nightmares”), nor that Anthony Hopkins, who here plays an aristocrat-cum-Autobots-obsessive (I think?), must have infinitely better things to do. It’s that, enduring its 150-minute runtime, you’ll begin to question what feat of logic led you to purchase a ticket in the first place. Yes, this really is the rare sort of cinematic fiasco that’s liable to shake the viewer’s confidence in their own sanity.
There really should be nothing particularly ‘hard’ about The Last Knight – sure, it was always going to suck, but at least prior entries in the series came with their little moments of self-parody, crass and otherwise misjudged (the first film’s ‘dirty’ gags, Revenge of the Fallen’s hideous minstrel show) as they may have been. Gone is this degree of self-awareness (if you could call it that); Bay has instead burdened number five with a garishness and convolution that even the worst summer
schlockbusters have nothing on. Mark Wahlberg, who replaced Shia LaBeouf as the franchise’s leading man only three years ago, is calling quits on the whole thing after this movie; the opener, a spectacularly incoherent, Dark Ages-set sequence, featuring a drunk Merlin (Stanley Tucci) and a lacklustre mechanical dragon, can leave us in no doubt as to the wisdom of his decision.
In fact, Wahlberg doesn’t even seem to be the focus here. Between the shoot-outs, Optimus Prime gone AWOL, some genuinely bizarre England-set material and the usual helpings of Army Control Room table talk (inevitably, the film’s most prominent howlers, delivered by callous-faced hard-men who look like they want out of this car-crash, are to be found in these scenes), The Last Knight finds little time for its poster-boy. That could be a good thing, if not for the fact that everything going on around him is about as digestible as a keg of prison wine. The ‘humour’ is offensively bad – that is, where it is not actually offensive (Wahlberg’s run-in with an Amerindian police chief makes for a toe-curling watch); Laura Haddock’s love interest is a predictably zero-dimensional presence, an Oxford ‘genius’ wowed by our hero’s Arthur C Clarke quotes. And all this is to say nothing of the movie’s plot, a sword-and-sorcery caper that only becomes more ludicrous and esoteric upon reminiscence (if one gauged anything at all from an actual viewing). It’s not hard to see where the series is going next at this rate, progressively adding more genre notches to its bedpost (Knights! Dinosaurs! Animals!) as it sinks further into cinematic degeneracy. Avoid at any cost.