Recently, Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword sinfully injected the over-the-top style of a Michael Bay film into the Arthurian myth. Now, Transformers: The Last Knight inserts pieces of the Arthurian legend into a Transformers film. What on earth did poor old King Arthur do to deserve such a fate?
Admittedly, the film’s opening sequence in which Arthur and assorted knights are aided in their battle against Saxon hordes – who look remarkably like cosplayers – by none other than the Transformers, fleetingly offers the intriguing aesthetic of giant robots flying around medieval England. Quickly, though, Bay ditches Dark Ages Britain for the present day and the film asserts the familiar toxic taste of a Transformers film. Once again we’re subjected to a painfully overstuffed, tortuously convoluted plot, near-incomprehensible action sequences that feature tedious vertigo-inducing robot fights, outrageously awful Plan 9 From Outer Space-style dialogue and a charisma-free performance from second time lead Mark Wahlberg, all of which make this film as unwatchable as its predecessors.
Somewhere in this mess are shards of plot concerning resistance fighters teaming up with the benevolent Transformers, the return of the menacing robot Megatron and of course, pompous aliens planning to destroy humanity. The link to Arthurian times is vaguely explained although it hardly matters amid the ludicrous storyline and brain-pummelling avalanche of cgi effects.
Although barely distinguishable from the previous instalments, this film ads one interesting wrinkle by relocating some of the action to England where supposed hero Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlburg) encounters British Lord Sir Edmund Burton (a scenery chomping Sir Anthony Hopkins) who attempts to explain his role as a kind of Transformers guardian linked to an ancient order called the Witwiticcans. If nothing else, this sequence introduces us to Oxford professor Vivianne Wembly (Laura Haddock) who is apparently a descendant of our old buddy Merlin the magician and is essential in recovering a magical staff the purpose of which seems to be triggering awful head-ache inducing effects sequences. The feisty Haddock is the best thing about this film as she embraces the silliness of the concept while adding some snooty British wit. It’s mortifying, though, to see a great actor like Anthony Hopkins demeaning himself in this rubbish.
The Transformers films are a case study in what’s wrong with contemporary cinema so exactly why the public has embraced these lumbering CGI-drenched monstrosities is a mystery for the ages. Still, Michael Bay clearly feels emboldened to make another one as there’s a disturbing hint in this film of more sequels to come.
Nick’s rating: *1/2
Genre: Science fiction/ action.
Director(s): Michael Bay.
Release date: 22nd June 2017.
Running time: 149 mins.
Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM. Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show
- Film review: KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD, by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’
- Film review: THE TRIP TO ITALY, from Built For Speed
- Film review: TRANSFORMERS, DARK OF THE MOON from Built For Speed
- Film review: THE TRIP TO SPAIN, from ‘Built For Speed’
- Film review: KIDNAPPING MR HEINEKEN, from ‘Built For Speed’