Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock, Isabela Moner
Running Time: 150 minutes
Release Date: June 23
There is a reason why the majority of the promotional trailers for Transformers: The Last Knight did not focus on the plot of the film – there is a complete absence of one. Director Michael Bay has announced that this will be his last Transformers film, and I wonder if this was all an elaborate experiment to see how farcical a film he could get away with making.
The Last Knight merges multiple disjointed and undeveloped plots so clumsily that there is no real sense of character development or coherent narrative. The opening battle sequence between King Arthur and an unidentified army prompted me to spend the first five minutes trying to figure out if I had accidentally attended the wrong film.
Alas, I had not.
A drunken Merlin (Stanley Tucci) is given a staff to end the battle by an Autobot, who warns him that one day a ‘great evil’ will come for it and he must protect it. The story goes downhill from here.
We then jump to modern times, where humans are at war with the Autobots after Optimus Prime has left Earth. Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is given a medallion by a dying Autobot who tells him that he will need it to save the world. He teams up with a British Earl named Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins), Professor Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) and multiple Autobots to track down Merlin’s sceptre and save the world.
Wahlberg plays Cade with a mixture of anger and confusion, much like how he must have felt to be shooting another Transformers film. Hopkins is exposition personified; His Sir Edmund exists solely to explain what the screenwriters have cobbled together to propel the characters into yet another fight/chase sequence. He does so with aplomb, and the need for a high calibre of actor here is clear – only a skilled actor could spit out his tired, clichéd dialogue with a straight face.
The promotional focus on the character Izabella roused hopes that Transformers would finally present us with a well-realised female character. However, while Isabela Moner gives a good performance, she has disappointingly little to do, and even this 14 year old tomboy is introduced through the sexualised gaze of four young boys. Similarly, Professor Vivian Wembley is predominantly defined by her single relationship status and her desirability, and rarely by her occupation. At one point, her outfit is described as a ‘stripper dress,’ which neatly summarises what passes for humour in the film. The other predominant female role is the evil tentacled robot (yes, really) which is trying to destroy Earth. Make of that what you will.
Cleverly, the latest trailer for the film focuses on the IMAX process involved in making it, and not the film itself. The visual effects are stunning, and the technical team deserves credit for them. It is a pity that, for all of the depth of its budget, the film did not invest in a coherent plot. Substance is sacrificed to style and the repetitive action sequences contribute to an unnecessarily long running time. The ‘plot’ exists only to loosely link what is essentially a bloated 150 minute montage of robots fighting in various locations. Medieval Robot Fight! Dystopian Chicago Robot Fight! Underwater Robot Fight! Aerial Robot Fight! CAN I GO HOME NOW PLEASE?
The Last Knight is a stunning example of IMAX cinema. It is so ridiculous, that it is almost entertaining; however, this cannot save the poor script and absence of plot. Watch it only if you must.