It is an understatement to say that “Transformers: The Last Knight” is a cinematic equivalent of blunt instrument. This is another unbearable epic mess as brainlessly loud and bombastic as three previous sequels following “Transformers” (2007), and it will relentlessly bludgeon your aural and optic nerve system for no less than 149 minutes while making no sense at all in terms of story and characters.
Accompanied with the narration by Anthony Hopkins, the prologue sequence of the movie ridiculously attempts to mix the legend of King Arthur and his knights with metallic CGI figures. When King Arthur and his knights are about to face a grim moment of certain death by their barbaric enemies, a guy named Merlin (Stanley Tucci) saves the day at the last minute through a little help from his big alien robot associates, and we are served with an outrageous moment featuring a flying dragon robot with three heads, while also being bombarded with lots of bangs and clangs to numb and bore us.
The movie subsequently moves forward to the present point not long after the events depicted in “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (2014). As more alien robots come to Earth, they are regarded as enemies to be destroyed as before, and Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) has been accordingly hiding along with a bunch of robots including Bumblebee, but then he and Bumblebee happen to draw the attention of the US military and the Transformers Reaction Force (TRF) when they come across a young girl named Izabella (Isabela Moner) in an abandoned area of Chicago. Although it may be a bit amusing to see Bumblebee showing his hidden ability for a while, the movie indulges in lots of loud noises and frantic special effects again, and we only get more numbing confusion as a result.
While saving Izabella and her little robot Sqweeks from their danger, Yeager comes to acquire a mysterious object, and that eventually leads him to a character played by Hopkins. This is surely a paycheck role to play for Hopkins and the movie does waste his undeniable talent, but he did what he could do with his role, and I can only tell you that he manages to maintain his dignity amidst heaps of nonsense and numerous silly cheap jokes. During his obligatory expository sequence, he looks as serious and authoritative as demanded despite its sheer nonsense, and he sells it to some degrees even though the movie annoyingly interrupts him more than once.
From Hopkins’ character, Yeager comes to learn about a big, imminent danger approaching to Earth, and he is accompanied with Vivian Wembly (Laura Haddock), a young professor who suddenly comes to realize her destined role in this very urgent circumstance. As they hurriedly search for a clue which will lead them to a certain old object belonging to Merlin, the movie mindlessly pushes them from one moment to another without any tangible sense of direction, and I must confess that I gave up discerning the exact details of how they eventually arrive at a certain underwater spot.
The movie tries to generate some sparks between Yeager and Wembly, but they do not have much human depth to engage us, and neither do other noticeable human characters in the film besides Hopkins’ character. For example, Yeager’s assistant is no more than your average black sidekick, and Izabella and her shabby robot often look like an insipid version of Rey and BB-8 in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015), though it should be mentioned that Isabela Moner brings some pluck into her rather bland character.
In case of the robot characters in the film, they do not interest me a lot as before. Bumblebee and other good robots including the ones voiced by John Goodman, Omar Sy, Ken Watanabe, and Steve Buscemi are just a little more distinctive and colorful than those bad robots led by Megatron (voiced by Frank Welker), who are mostly indistinguishable from each other in their uniformly ugly appearances. As the villainess who brainwashes Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) for her diabolical plan, Quintessa (voiced by Gemma Chan) is not particularly scary or menacing, and that is one of the main reasons why the climax sequence of the movie does not work at all while merely being an incoherent series of CGI actions which are utterly joyless and unimaginative.
While I did not like “Transformers” enough to recommend it to others, I enjoyed it to some degrees, and it has been disappointing to see how the series has consistently gone down from that point. “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (2009) is still the lowest point in the franchise thanks to many unforgettably awful things including that robot dog humping on Megan Fox’s leg, but the following two sequels are also pretty lousy to say the least while demonstrating the worst sides of director Michael Bay, whose recent cinematic aesthetics mainly consists of endless explosions and chaotic actions.
“Transformers: the Last Knight” is no exception, and watching it along with many audiences including a friend of mine was one of the most depressing movie-watching experiences I have ever had during recent years. I later apologized to him, but he said he disliked it less than me, and I am glad that this crappy piece of work did not hurt our relationship. I think I really should show him something a lot better someday.