I can’t be bothered. I really can’t. Transformers: The Last Knight is the fifth of these monstrosities, and with each one I die a little inside. This latest is not the longest (that distinction goes to the ludicrously long Age of Extinction), but it is possibly the dullest. Which is strange, given that in The Last Knight worlds literally collide, which should be interesting if only for the sheer spectacle. But in going for a sort of critical mass of spectacle, Michael Bay has instead achieved spectacle entropy. This is two and a half hours of meaningless, screeching monotony.
The plot is some nonsense to do with knights and ancient orders. Apparently King Arthur hung around with Transformers, and Merlin’s descendants hold the key to a weapon of unimaginable destruction. (Hasn’t every one of these films featured a weapon of unimaginable destruction? How many of them can there be just lying around?) All of this raises the question: is there a period of history in which the Transformers haven’t involved themselves? At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if the next film reveals that Megatron was Jack the Ripper and that Optimus Prime single-handedly abolished slavery.
Anyway, Marky Mark gets involved and Sir Anthony Hopkins turns up to do the exposition. Hopkins joins the surprisingly long list of venerable actors who are inexplicably in Transformers films. He barely seems to be aware of this fact. He rattles through the exposition as if he has only the slightest grasp on it himself, only occasionally imbuing the material with gravitas when the script requires, and otherwise dithering about like a senile grandfather. It’s a performance that would be endearing in any other film, but baffles here.
The action starts early and only stops for exposition or when the film decides to gift us with more of this series’ uniquely incompetent comedy (five films in, and you’d think that Bay would have realised that the jokes don’t work). There’s nothing to say about the action that hasn’t been said four times already. The robots are still tangles of mechanical parts that hardly resemble their original designs, and the sequences are just as incomprehensible as ever. Imagine kids playing, not with action figures, but with handfuls of scrap metal. And their not so much playing with them, as chucking them in the air while screaming at the top of their lungs.
At this point, Michael Bay’s Transformers series is irredeemable. A complete reboot, with fresh blood and fresh ideas, could breathe new life into it. But if The Last Knight is anything to go by, any subsequent films will carry on down the same cacophonous, unintelligible road that Bay has been on for the last ten years. Will there be another one? I don’t doubt it. Will it actually be any good? I do doubt that.