Have you checked your kitchen recently? Chances are the sink might be missing, stolen by Michael Bay to throw into his latest robots-in-disguise extravaganza “Transformers: The Last Knight”. It’s no secret that Paramount Pictures have assembled a writer’s room to spin their Hasbro franchise into an expansive shared universe but “The Last Knight” suggests they haven’t yet put the writers in the same room.
An ancient artefact – with untold power – comes to light, an object with the power to literally reshape the world of Cybertron. So important is it to the destiny of the Transformers that literally none of them have ever mentioned it during the previous four quests for all-powerful artefacts which hold the destiny of the Transformers in the balance. The artefact was entrusted to Merlin during the reign of King Arthur and it turns out Transformers have been secretly helping humanity (helping, it seems, exclusively means fighting wars) throughout the ages.
I’m not going to deny that there’s a certain visual spectacle to Bay’s Transformers movies, but the aesthetic of great big ‘splosions interspersed with CGI recreations of tin foil and wine glasses being put through a blender feels utterly played out. The cast, when they’re not swirling around in super-slow motion, seem as confused by the incoherent rambling plot as the audience is and only Anthony Hopkins seems to be having some fun, bonkers as it all is.
The script is, literally, a shit show. The expletive makes up at least a third of all spoken dialogue in the film, providing a constant metatextual commentary on what’s being served up to you, the viewer. The whole movie only makes sense if you assume that Michael Bay’s version of research is to watch seven different genres of movies simultaneously, jot down anything he thinks is cool as it catches his eye then film the resulting stream of consciousness. While I’ve long given up on my dream of a live-action Gen1 Transformers movie, Bay shows nothing but contempt for the source material and characters. You might argue that ‘source material’ is a bit rich for what was, in reality, a cheaply made half-hour cartoon commercial for toys but no matter how bargain basement that original cartoon was, artistically it’s streets ahead of this 150-minute fetishisation of military hardware, mass destruction and mindless sexism.
“The Last Knight” disregards the movies’ own canon as arbitrarily as it jumbles up real-world geography and for residents of the South of the UK there’s a rare chance to share the frustration of our American cousins as Hollywood plays silly buggers with the local geography. You simply won’t believe how close Portsmouth Naval Museum is to the Thames, which itself apparently empties into the sea near the white cliffs of Dover which are merely a hop, skip and a jump away from Salisbury Plain and Stonehenge.
I really, really wanted to like this movie and tried very hard to look past its flaws, but when something repeatedly smashes you in the face with how awful it is there’s only so much you can do. I watched it with Mertmas who, at nearly 11, should be firmly in the centre of this film’s target zone. Unfortunately, his verdict was ‘boring and rubbish’. When you can’t make giant robots, three-headed dragon robots, dinosaur robots, spaceships, submarines, fast cars and so many explosions the filming likely registered on the Richter scale entertaining for the early tween market, maybe it’s time to have a good long look at yourself.
Transformers hasn’t been this hard to watch since “Revenge Of The Fallen” but this is in some ways worse because I don’t think Michael Bay even cares anymore. Given the Jackson Pollock-esque spattering of half-formed ideas and plots he’s vomited up onto the screen (in IMAX no less), it’s pretty clear he – unlike his soiled rag of a screenplay – doesn’t give a shit.