When reviewing a film such as “Transformers: The Last Knight,” you have to take into account the fact that this is not intended to be an Academy Award-winning picture. Summer blockbusters are here to deliver mind-blowing action and big box office receipts. While other critics might focus on the script filled with plenty of cheesy one-liners, or the endless amount of fast-paced cuts, I prefer to focus on the elements that matter most to the fans of the franchise. With a 2 hour and 30-minute running time, Michael Bay packs in an impressive amount of explosive action sequences and intricate special effects that makes the IMAX experience worth your while.
Although the autobots (good Transformers) and decepticons (evil Transformers) appear to be futuristic beings, the fifth sequel reveals that Transformers date back to the 5th and 6th century. Audiences are whisked to the Arthurian age, when Lancelot (Martin McCreadie) and King Arthur’s (Liam Garrigan) men are in the midst of a bloody battle. Merlin and his magical powers are their only hope for survival and victory. Unbeknownst to us, Merlin’s (Stanley Tucci) magic is thanks to Transformer knights who gifted him with a mystical staff. That same staff would decide the fate of earth centuries later. Fast-forward to present day when humans and Transformers are at war. Megatron (Frank Welker) and Quintessa (Gemma Chan), of the rotting planet Cybertron, are determined to revive their world. In order to do so, they must find Merlin’s staff and suck the life from earth. Legend has it that an unknown knight and the last living descendant to Merlin are the only two who can save earth from destruction.
It’s only a matter of time before Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and his band of trusty autobots: Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), Bumblebee (Erik Aadahl), Hot Rod (Omar Sy), Hound (John Goodman), Drift (Ken Watanabe) and more, join forces to save the day. Michael Bay and executive producer, Steven Spielberg added a fair amount of good guys to the team. Josh Duhamel jumps on board as trusty Colonel Lennox, Santiago Cabrera as Santos, Isabela Moner as Izabella, a teenage orphan with a love for autobots, Jerrod Carmichael as Jimmy, the nerdy assistant to Cade, Laura Haddock as Viviane, the cynical professor and last, but not least, Anthony Hopkins as Sir Edmund Burton.
Unfortunately, it takes a good thirty to forty minutes before the film finally gets into the central storyline and things start to pick up and make sense. The dialogue from screenwriters Art Marcum, Matt Holloway and Ken Nolan leaves a lot to be desired. Luckily, Anthony Hopkins knocks his character performance out of the ball park with plenty of quick-witted quips. Carmichael is likeable as the stereotypical comic relief, but Hopkins is the funniest of all as the elderly snarky English Lord and self-proclaimed “Transformer protector.” Cogman (Jim Carter), who is Hopkins’ autobot sidekick, is just as humorous. Whether or not it was Spielberg’s idea, Cogman’s design is reminiscent of “Star Wars’” C-3PO. Even Izabella’s little blue autobot resembles BB-8.
Once again, Wahlberg proves himself as a leading man for action movies with his daring stunts and great comedic timing. His performance is also complimented by the natural on-screen chemistry with actress, Laura Haddock. Portraying the snobby British professor, Haddock is equally beautiful and intelligent as the new love interest.
Of course, the Transformers are always the real stars of each sequel. The visual, special and animation effects team of Jason Smith, Scott Farrar, Paul Kavanaugh, Rick O’Connor and Scott Benza, creates such extraordinary imagery, it may even be better than the first four films. From shiny Lexus SUVs to CAT bulldozers, this is the one film where we can forgive obvious product placement. It’s an incredible sight to watch the Chevrolet’s (Bumblebee, Crosshairs), Western Star truck (Optimus Prime), Lamborghini Centenario (Hot Rod), Mercedes-Benz (Hot Rod, Drift) and Aston Martin (Cogman) transformations. Car lover or not, it’s impossible for anyone to not be impressed by this shiny vehicle fleet.
If it’s flying 3D fireballs and robot fights you’re looking for this summer, then “Transformers: The Last Knight” will not disappoint.
Running Time: 149 minutes
Rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of sci-fi action, language, and some innuendo
By Pamela Price