Last Knight underlines fading Transformers film series going out with a wimper

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) – Film Review

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) - Film Poster

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) – Film Poster

The fifth in a highly successful series of Transformers live action films, it seems a long time ago that Michael Bay’s series of films first came out.

It seems possible that Bay’s swansong could also mean the end of the current Transformers franchise with box office takings on the decline.

I have fond memories of the original series of toys and the cartoons that accompanied them and it’s easy to see that these films are aimed at the audience of a certain age as well as bringing in new younger fans of the ever popular toys.

I have managed to avoid the Bay films for a variety of reasons but finally decided to see what all the fuss was about thanks to some free tickets through a recent ODEON offer.

What I saw, however, isn’t easy to explain as I found it difficult to follow as a newcomer to the series despite some now very outdated knowledge of the original comics.

This is the second film this summer to have a theme of King Arthur’s legend running through it and there’s an implication that transformers have been on Earth for centuries, and The Last Knight tries to explain why Earth is so popular to transformers.

We start with a hokey plot pointing out that Merlin’s staff (yes, really!) is the key to solving the latest crisis to hit the Earth, and we have Anthony Hopkins hamming it up to a massive extent with plenty of lines of exposition as we switch from action sequence to action sequence.

Earth has mobilised an anti-transformers unit who becomes the group that our heroes must run away from before the final battle which takes place in England presumably for tax reasons.

Apparently there’s some returns for familiar faces from the earlier films – not that the script helps much – but it’s all too much to be explained to people while there’s spectacle to impress filmgoers.

The cinematography in this film is unusually stylised giving the film an epic look, but I was quite bored while trying to take the film in so I must have been distracted by looking at the images on screen.

At least we still have the legendary Peter Cullen as the voice of Optimus Prime, and he starts off in space, following up from the previous film in which he seeks out Cybertron – the Transformers homeworld – and comes across the primary villain.

I know we’re not supposed to take these films too seriously, but Laura Haddock as Viviane Wembly, a professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford, is hard to believe in – especially when Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager seems to agree – referring to her as a stripper when they first meet.

Poor script fails over-long Transformers: The Last Knight

There’s just not even a pretence at making the script for The Last Knight, such that it is, work. I tried hard to ignore the glaring issues on show mainly because of a stunning lack of character development throughout despite the almost two and a half hours running time.

At least we’re not being invited to leer at Megan Fox or Rosie Huntington-Whitely as earlier trailers have been all too happy to linger on – Haddock’s Viviane Wembley at least is a feisty character.

I did, however, find the amount of swearing in The Last Knight entirely unnecessary for something that should be a kids property.

The fairly average Transformers: The Movie (1986) came out over 30 years ago but that had more emotional resonance for me at the time of release despite the cheesy soft rock soundtrack.

Music cues are played with in this film but they come out fairly flat although they did elicit a chuckle from some members of the audience I was in who also seemed to find some of the cussing amusing.

The film was far too long, though, despite being one of the shorter entries in the series. If you make it through to the end without losing interest in the weightless cgi heavy finale you could stay a little while longer for a bonus scene.

There’s a brief early mid credits scene implying another sequel which I’m sure will be popular but I’m struggling to see just where they can go from here after almost destroying the planet – something which I am sure happens all too often in films like this.

I’m not sure I’d care and the early US box office suggests others are agreeing with this sequel apparently being made largely for the overseas market.

Transformers: The Last Knight (12A; moderate action violence, moderate bad language; 149 minutes)

Summary: TRANSFORMERS THE LAST KNIGHT is the fifth in the series of fantasy action films about warring robot factions on Earth.

Rating: ** (Another set of admittedly spectacular set pieces trying to come together into a coherent action film and failing badly). It does look good though. If you’re a fan of the series (really?) you might get more out of this than I did.