This is probably the best of the five “Transformers” movies. Sure, it will still be one of the worst films of the summer, so it’s kind of like being the skinniest kid at fat camp. Critics complain that producer/director Michael Bay movies don’t have a plot. We counted five (not subplots) in this movie, so he must believe in them, because there are so many.
At $260 million, this is one of the most expensive films ever. Give Bay credit for providing fanboys what they want: a heroic everyman, a sexy girlfriend, charming supporting cast, exotic cars, weaponized military vehicles and the most vibrant and meticulously designed robots since the prior four “Transformer” outings.
Sci-fi fantasies ask us to suspend belief, but “Transformers” asks us to suspend logic, reason and our dignity. The visually magnificent CGI effects almost justify the expense. There’s lots of cool “transforming” going on and composer Steve Jablonsky backs it up with another powerful musical score. However, it is so overproduced that just when it gets annoying, a robot openly mocks the background music during one of the scenes.
What seems to be plot number one of this “mini-series” begins in the dark ages with a cast of thousands engaged in an epic sword and shield battle. Weapons are flyin’ and men are dyin’. Merlin (Stanley Tucci) reveals the source of King Arthur’s mighty sword and power of the Magic Staff (what staff?) to be none other than a big bot hiding out in a cave.
The story abruptly jumps to plot two in the dusty Southwest, featuring Izabella (Isabella Moner) and her “R2D2-like” robot. A spunky orphan, Izabella, hangs in the junkyard with a gaggle of autobots trying to help Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg). Cade doesn’t want a a “junior partner.” This seems like the same affecting scenario we just saw with Hugh Jackman and Dafne Keen from the recent “Logan” flick. Coincidence? We don’t think so.
From the sandy desert, the screenwriting committee sends us into plot three, to Oxford University, where the attractive, and conveniently unattached, Professor Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock, a Megan Fox lookalike) is about to enter the fray. Offering credibility to the story, Anthony Hopkins is introduced as Sir Edmund Burton, a mysterious gentleman of means who explains in a lengthy narrative, what the heck is going on. Jim Carter, who played Carson from “Downton Abbey,” voices Sir Edmund’s robot butler, a C3P0 rip-off.
Without transition, the storyline moves to plot four. On the planet Cybertron, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) learns from Quintessa, his creator (we thought it was Hasbro), that the only way to restore Cybertron is to retrieve Merlin’s Magic Staff (remember that thing?), and destroy Earth, just because the worlds cannot co-exist (why?). Sounds good to him, so he proclaims several times in that deep baritone, “I am Optimus Prime!”
After over two hours, it’s like the guy who drones on then says, “I said all of that to say this.” What we call plot five is a battle royal, a muddled free-for-all involving creatures from all corners of the universe. Fanboys will enjoy seeing Megatron, Bumblebee, Hound, Drift, Daytrader, Hot Rod, Mohawk, Nitro Zeus, Wheels, Barricade and Volleybot. The rest of us just say, “There’s another one!” Sir Edmund reminds us in his best Winston Churchill voice, “Without sacrifices, there can be no victory!”
“Transformers: The Last Knight” is a very long 149 minutes and rated PG-13 for violence, sci-fi action and language. Released a decade after the original, not much has changed and we’re not sure how anyone other than rabid fans can care. Worse yet, the audience must absorb the colossal assault of sensory overload.
The movie is spectacular, hyperactive, overwrought, and bombastic. To Michael Bay, mission accomplished. Without an original thought in this contrived story and edited with a meat cleaver, Bay has announced this will be his last “Transformers” (thankfully!), unless he gets a good story (please define “good”). There are more Transformers on the way, so as Sir Edmunds states, “These are troubled times. Without leaders, chaos reigns.”
Ron’s Rating: C Leigh’s Rating: D