Transformers: The Last Knight (2 stars)

Transformers: The Last Knight

Fifth entry in Michael Bay's robot wars series delivers yet more joyless carnage

'Logic has left the building,' Laura Haddock's lecturer Viviane laments in The Last Knight, seemingly oblivious to the absence of logic from every other building routinely obliterated by director Michael Bay in the four previous Transformers films. Yet his fifth attempt is, in truth, vacated to all-new extremes. As giant robots once again hurtle at each other in bouts of shape-shifting CG carnage, grating quips flying, even by Bay's incoherent standards, it's one deadening pile-up.

Bay seems to diverge into Python-esque self-parody in a prologue involving King Arthur and a 'sozzled' Merlin. But since the filmmaker lacks levity, this absurdity is neither properly funny nor sustained. Soon, reams of exposition introduce the mythological concept of Transformers shaping human history, a notion that unites Oxford professor Viviane, butch inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and an English Earl played by Anthony Hopkins on a mission to find Merlin's magic staff. Otherwise, bad robots will get their metal mitts on it and destroy more buildings.

Like the car a robo-dragon struggles to devour in Yeager's junkyard, the plot is indigestible. So, scriptwriters Matt Holloway, Art Marcum and Ken Nolan resort to lurching between locations by car, submarine and spaceship at a pace designed to induce surrender by whiplash, or at least make us forget the sidelined characters; the sassy teens introduced early on are sloppily forgotten, while John Turturro phones in his explanatory blather.

Hopkins has fun getting to say 'bitchin' and bantering with semi-funny bot-butler Cogman (C-3PO cross-wired with Robert the Robot from CBeebies' Justin's House). But Wahlberg and Haddock bring the chemistry of a toaster and a teapot to their romance. What's left is a string of joylessly immense action sequences, linked only by the exigencies of 'we must' plotting: we must do this, we must do that. With so many sharper, funnier, warmer summer movies around, surely we must be done with Bay's robo-racket by now.

General release from Thu 22 Jun.

Transformers: The Last Knight

  • 2 stars
  • 2017
  • US
  • 2h 28min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Michael Bay
  • Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Laura Haddock, Anthony Hopkins
  • UK release: 23 June 2017

It turns out that the Transformers shape human history, as Oxford lecturer Viviane (Haddock), butch inventor Cade (Wahlberg) and an English Earl (Hopkins) charge about from action sequence to action sequence. Wahlberg and Haddock have zero chemistry and it’s a deadening pile-up of CGI carnage, grating quips and joyless…

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