TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT
Author: JoAnne Hyde
Date: June 20, 2017

SYNOPSIS: Humans are at war with the Transformers, and Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving the future lies buried in the secrets of the past and the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. Now, it's up to the unlikely alliance of Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), Bumblebee, an English lord (Anthony Hopkins) and an Oxford professor (Laura Haddock) to save the world.

Transformers: The Last Knight is typical Michael Bay. The explosions start with the first frame. By the way, the first scenes take place in the days of King Arthur – hence knights as in those of the round table. It’s an interesting way to introduce the Transformers just in case you’ve never heard of them. Unlikely, if you’re watching this film.

King Arthur (Liam Garrigan) and his army are getting their butts kicked by a hoard of Saxons when they’re aided by “something” unleashed by Merlin (Stanley Tucci). That “something” arrives courtesy of an ancient Transformer discovered by Merlin but never revealed to anyone else.

Meanwhile, Optimus Prime, voiced by Peter Cullen, is flying through space toward his home planet, Cybertron, to reunite with his maker Quintessa (Gemma Chan). Prime is not himself and doesn’t realize that Quintessa doesn’t have his (or Earth’s) best interests at heart.

Meanwhile, back on present-day Earth, humans and transformers are at war, and the intrepid Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is hiding out in a junkyard in the Badlands of South Dakota with the “friendly” Autobots, Bumblebee (Erik Aadahl), Hound (John Goodman), Drift (Ken Watanabe), and Daytrader (Steve Bucsemi), among others. Also present for no apparent reason is a teen-aged, homeless girl, Izabella (Isabella Moner), who’s latched onto Cade and wants to help him because she’s a self-proclaimed whiz at fixing damaged Autobots. Cade is of course reluctant, but we all know he’ll eventually be won over by her spunkiness and smart mouth.

If this seems like a lot of jumping around, well, that’s the nature of this less than cohesive script. Four writers are credited with the story and screenplay, and I would swear that each wrote a bit and then handed it off to one of the others thereby losing any continuity along the way. If you find it hard to keep up, you won’t be alone.

After Cade finds a dying Autobot while trying to rescue some wounded ones and is entrusted with an ancient medallion, he is sought out by the last member of a cadre of “knights” descended from the original Camelot group, Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins). Accompanied by his fairly annoying butler bot Cogman (Jim Carter), he wants to help Cade save the world – as usual.

Burton also seeks help from a reluctant Oxford professor, Vivian Wembley, played by Megan Fox look-alike Laura Haddock. Although she plays polo and holds several high degrees from Oxford, she appears at the meeting wearing a “stripper” dress – Cade’s words, not mine. A little gratuitous visual stimulation I guess, before she later changes into several more modest outfits for the action scenes. Interestingly, she and Cade both inexplicably change into “work” clothes of unknown origin several times which also allows a lingering shot of Mr. Wahlberg’s abs. Again – gratuitous.

Even with the addition of the treacherous Quintessa, we all know the real battle is the endless one between Optimus Prime and Megatron. Never trust a Decepticon to stay out of the picture. How endless that battle turns out to be may depend on how this film does at the box office. Michael Bay says this will be his last Transformers film, but who knows?

The thankless job of being the sympathetic military type, as opposed to all the hawks who want to seek and destroy all Transformers, goes to Josh Duhamel, who gamely struggles with the ridiculous dialog. In fact, all of the actors deserve some credit for delivering some of the worst dialog ever with straight faces. That really doesn’t matter, though, because fans will come to see the special effects and the Transformers battling it out amidst many loud explosions and much firepower.

That said, if you are a Michael Bay fan and like the activities mentioned above, you’ll like this summer blockbuster-type film. I’m sure the filmmakers are hoping for a blockbuster because they certainly leave the door open for another one. This particular kind of action film has a built-in fan base and will appeal to boys of all ages – and I mean that in the nicest possible way. Sometimes you’re just looking for entertainment rather than an intellectual experience. So if that’s your preference, sit back and enjoy. Who cares if the alien spacecraft look like a giant bird’s nest. - JoAnne Hyde

GRADE: C+


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