If you’ve always wanted to be locked in a small room with the cast of Stomp as they bash dustbin lids around your head for no apparent reason, the fifth Transformers movie from director Michael Bay will seem like a joyous dream. For everyone else, it will be a loud, long and nonsensical nightmare, as robots clash while Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins and a handful of forgettable extras run around looking for the plot (quick tip, guys: there isn’t one).
Following on from the previous instalment, Age Of Extinction, The Last Knight picks up the story of good guy Cade (Wahlberg) and his Autobots, who are now in hiding after all the damage Transformers did last time round. But before we get to them, Bay treats us to a daftly enjoyable prologue set in Britain’s Dark Ages, in which King Arthur, his knights and a drunken Merlin (Tucci, providing one of the movie’s very few intentional laughs) get some dragon robot help during a battle, thus proving that Transformers were here long ago, while also revealing a shiny staff could hold the key to protecting us from bad robots in the future.
That staff is going to come in handy later on, but since this movie clocks in at over two and a half hours, it will seem bloody ages until we get there. Before that, we have Optimus Prime returning to his home planet and falling for the charms of metal vixen Quintessa (Gemma Chan), Cade befriending young orphan Izabella (Isabela Moner) for no apparent reason and then forgetting about her half way through, and Laura Haddock popping up as an Oxford academic who may hold the key to where the staff is hidden and what it should be used for.
Aside from a script that seems to have been put through a shredder before being pieced back together in the wrong order (at one point, Cade states he’s happy the Autobots got his message to turn up to the big battle – a message he has never given nor mentioned before), the main problem with this Transformers movie is, well, there’s just not enough transforming. Yes, there are some robot-on-robot battle scenes that look pretty impressive while managing to destroy a few British landmarks, and a smart car chase through the streets of London, but there’s not much time spent on the characters fans love like Bumblebee, Hound, and Hot Rod (in his first live action movie appearance).
The human characters get short shrift, too, which is a shame as the movie’s saving grace is Anthony Hopkins as Sir Edmund Burton, a rather bonkers English Earl who knows rather a lot about the history of Transformers and has ‘the watch that killed Hitler’ stashed away in his front room. Like everyone else, he’s sidelined for a head-scratching foray aboard a submarine, yawnsome scenes involving a military (led by Josh Duhamel) who can’t seem to make up their mind whether they are after Cade or helping him, and a final battle at Stonehenge that seems to go on longer than it would have taken early Man to put the stones there in the first place.
Impressive to look at but uninvolving, humourless and missable, even for die-hard Transformers fans.
Parents should note this is a 12A certificate in the UK (PG-13 in the US), due to the long battle scenes between robots and quite a few scenes involving swearing.
Characters are often in danger, but there are no truly scary scenes.
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