No matter how bashed up they get, the Transformers films just keep reassembling. The series that’s included racist robots, jokes about android testicles, and shots up Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s skirt will almost certainly trundle past the $4bn mark with this, the fifth CGI-packed instalment. Mark Wahlberg returns as the improbably named Cade Yaegar, an inventor hiding out in a world torn apart by human-Transformer conflict. He learns of a secret talisman, handed down from Merlin himself, that may be able to bring peace to the galaxy.
It’s hard to know where to start. The Last Knight abandons whatever loose plot devices the previous films used to hold everything together, settling for a blinking maelstrom of medieval soldiers and robot dinosaurs. It’s a lot less fun than it sounds, with the noise and confusion making for a tedious and annoying two and a half hours. Adding Arthurian legend and mysticism to the narrative about shape-changing toys muddies the waters to a ludicrous degree.
Movies should be better than this, even expensive ones designed to sell toys. Michael Bay’s fifth, and supposedly final Transformers film cost $250m, commissioning a special “writers’ room” to create a proposed Transformers Universe. With so many eyes on the finished article, it beggars belief that something this poor could end up in cinemas.
The actors are left to fend for themselves, none more so than Anthony Hopkins as an eccentric Transformers historian living in a castle with a comedy robot butler. His performance is just plain weird, capped by the Oscar winner saying “duuuude” like a grandfather pretending to know what Snapchat is. Wahlberg looks confused and tired throughout (we know how you feel, sir), paired with Laura Haddock as Megan Fox replacement #3.
Even in the cynical context of the Transformers franchise, this is a particularly shambolic effort. If this is indeed Bay’s final movie about the Robots In Disguise, let’s hope other directors can wring a modicum of sense out of this increasingly senseless franchise.