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Michael Bay's fifth run at the giant-robot franchise features King Arthur and Stonehenge and Nazis, though sadly not at the same time
TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (Michael Bay). 148 minutes. Opens Wednesday (June 21). See listing. Rating: N
We can add Anthony Hopkins to the list of reliable character actors who’ve fallen for the siren song of Michael Bay’s chequebook and the Transformers franchise I can only assume the Welsh Oscar winner needed to buy an island or something. He’s in good company, at least, joining John Turturro, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand and Stanley Tucci – the latter of whom returns in this one to play Merlin for some reason.
Yep, Merlin. The Merlin. Transformers: The Last Knight will forever be known as the one with King Arthur and Stonehenge and also Nazis, though sadly not at the same time. Turns out the giant Autobots have been around all along – before there were autos to even bot – helping humankind defeat threats over centuries. Humankind is just really good at Photoshopping them out of our history.
It’s a clever idea that’s immediately thrown aside so Bay can blow shit up in the present day, because that is what he does. This is the fifth in the director/producer/demolition fetishist’s apparently endless series of epics in which a bunch of robots shoot each other in the face while a bunch of humans run around underfoot and yell encouraging things – and it’s as much of a white-noise nightmare as any of them, only louder and in IMAX 3D.
Mark Wahlberg returns as swaggering mechanic Cade Yeager, who has no apparent skill except for being in the right place at the right time to be given an ancient Autobot talisman, which comes in handy because the entire planet of Cybertron is suddenly three days away from smashing into Earth.
Fortunately, one of those early Transformers has given Merlin a world-saving staff, which only Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock, styled to look like an English Megan Fox) can use, according to Hopkins’s wise academic, who’s accompanied everywhere by a bargain-basement C-3PO voiced by Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter. One wonders how long the erstwhile Mr. Carson has been waiting to tell someone they’ve made his shit list. Probably longer than one thinks.
The action jumps all over the place with little or no warning – a stop in Chicago so Cade can befriend an orphaned girl (Isabela Moner, who Bay immediately sexualizes before scaling back when the script reminds us her character is only 14), a car chase through London for no reason I could determine and some war room jibber-jabber for military do-gooder Lennox (Josh Duhamel, who’s been in all these movies and looks absolutely exhausted) – before all the parties hook up for the oversized, even-more-explosive-than-ever climax.
Is there a point? Nah. Like its brethren, Transformers: The Last Knight is a barrage of pixels and clutter with no real reason to exist except the perpetuation of its franchise. As with Age Of Extinction, this one doesn’t even end, just slamming shut after a speech from Peter Cullen’s Optimus Prime promising an even bigger battle to come.
Honestly, who gives a fuck?