Film review by Jason Day of Transformers: The Last Knight, the latest addition to the blockbuster movie franchise about huge robots that disguise themselves as other machines. starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by Michael Bay.
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Synopsis from IMDb.com
Humans and Transformers (robot aliens from another world) are at war. Optimus Prime (the hero robot) is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth.
I feel like an alcoholic at an AA meeting as I start this review of the fifth instalment in the blockbuster movie franchise: “I’m Jason Day and I loathed every frame of this movie, from the first to the last”.
There! Good Lord, doesn’t that feel better!
After two and a bit hours in the stygian dark of Cineworld Rugby, the relief of blinking madly as I stepped into the purifying evening light was palpable; time to get off my chest how little I cared for this achingly poor insult to cinema as an art form.
I hadn’t seen a Transformers film before, easily managing to veer away from what I always held to be complete nonsense. But, confronting my cinematic prejudices head-on, I thought I would give this epic a try.
How brave. How foolish.
One thing about Transformers that left an impression on me (in retrospect, the only thing), is the unabashed professionalism of Mark Wahlberg as an actor. I’ve never been a fan of his but his stoic, straight-faced resilience to the mindless sh*t storm he is performing in has to be admired. Despite what’s going on around him, he continues as if this is a movie worth investing some time in.
Unlike him, I was unable to engage with any aspect of this film. When it tried to be funny, I found it humourless. When it tried to be sexy, it felt like a hormonally challenged, embarrassed teenager was behind the camera. When it tried to be spectacular, the effects looked like CGI had been replaced with swiftly scribbled creations.
To be fair, I am not the target demographic of this film. For those that are (mostly teenage males from the screening I attended), this film seemed to hit the spot. They were at least entertained by it.
Judging by the defeated support turns, the rest of the cast were humiliated or resigned to not trying. Anthony Hopkins fails to lift things as a barmy English Earl. John Turtutto pops up in a fairly pointless Cuban cameo. The notable character actor Stanley Tucci, who can usually be relied upon to deliver winning amusement, is wasted as a “sozzled” Merlin in the opening sequence (he has more life in him when we see his dusty corpse near the end).
Poor Haddock, as the love interest, has been squeezed into the clothes and a life-sized jelly mould of Megan Fox, with forgettable results. At the end of the film, she says: “Is it tomorrow yet?” a sentiment I share, just a shame she and the script are more than two hours later in expressing it. It’s a fishy turn.
This incredible array of talent is swallowed by the film, their bones spat out and left whitening in the sun.
Part of my difficulty with connecting with this film is Bay’s directorial style. The frenetic, high octane pacing and editing, rapid cuts used to ensure the adrenaline is constantly coursing. I have no problem with that and, having seen Bay films before, I have seen first hand how this approach can lead to some spectacular action scenes.
The difficulty with Transformers is there are frequent pauses in those sequences, leaving it difficult to concentrate on the ‘down time’ bits when we swiftly jump from one face to the next. Tiring and tiresome but, given how perfunctionary the dramatics are, this at least helps to disguise their disposability.
Sometimes the editing is so swift, segments appear to be missing (characters magically appear in different sections of the Transformer’s mobile planet during the final battle), giving a bewildering feel to the viewer.
I’ve touched on how I’m not the intended audience for this movie, but is the problem I have with Transformers: The Last Knight that it is too cinematic for me to cope with?
Is the lightning quick editing, soaring music and furious camera work bang on the sensory target for the young ‘uns, whooping with delight in the row behind me, but too advanced and too evolved for my ageing eyes and brain to process to enjoy?
In the final analysis, this is nothing more than messy, A* budgeted cr*p.
Cast & credits
Director: Michael Bay. 149mins. Di Bonaventura Pictures/Hasbro/Huahua/Ian Bryce/Paramount/Tom De Santo Don Murphy Productions. (12a)
Producers: Ian Bryce, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, Don Murphy.
Writers: Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Ken Nolan.
Camera: Jonathan Sela.
Music: Steve Jablonsky.
Sets: Jeffrey Beecroft.
Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Laura Haddock, Santiago Cabrera, Isabela Moner, Jerrod Carmichael, Stanley Tucci, Liam Garrigan, John Turturro.