[Screen It]

"TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT"
(2017) (Mark Wahlberg, Laura Haddock) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Sci-Fi: A disparate and desperate group of humans and sentient, shape-shifting robots must contend with a threat that could mean the literal end of the world.
PLOT:
In this fifth installment of the "Transformers" franchise, humans are at war with the sentient, shape-shifting robots that arrived on Earth long ago. The leader of the good Autobot ones, Optimus Prime (voice of PETER CULLEN), has left in search of his now devastated home planet of Cybertron, while the leader of the bad Decepticon ones, Megatron (voice of FRANK WELKER), has disappeared.

No longer trusting any of them, the humans have created a military force known as the TRF (Transformers Reaction Force) that's seeking out to find and destroy all of them, but not all humans share that mindset. There's failed inventor Cade Yeager (MARK WAHLBERG) who's sided with a number of good ones, including Bumblebee (voice of ERIK AADAHL) and Hound (voice of JOHN GOODMAN), while his new "employee," Jimmy (JERROD CARMICHAEL), isn't sure what to make of being around such beings.

Orphaned 14-year-old Izabella (ISABELA MONER) has no such qualms, but watches as TRF forces kill one of her Autobot friends, and that Transformer imparts a powerful talisman to Cade. That's of particular interest to historian Sir Edmund Burton (ANTHONY HOPKINS) who has a special reason to bring Cade and Oxford professor Vivian Wembley (LAURA HADDOCK) together to help him and his sociopathic robot assistant, Cogman (voice of JIM CARTER). And that's because they've ended up directly related to events involving King Arthur, Merlin the magician and a Transformer back in the Middle Ages.

With Optimus Prime's planet headed toward Earth and his creator, Quintess (GEMMA CHAN), wanting to gain control of that talisman and the long-hidden and powerful staff that once belonged to Merlin, Cade, Vivian, and Edmund try to beat her to that, all while military types including Colonel William Lennox (JOSH DUHAMEL) must not only contend with the pending arrival of the alien planet, but also the return of Megatron and a number of Decepticons who are also desirous of the staff.

OUR TAKE: 2.5 out of 10
Before heading off for our scheduled press screening of the fifth installment of the "Transformers" film franchise, I lamented the fact that bad thunderstorms would likely adversely affect my drive to the theater in Georgetown. Getting to that section of Washington, D.C. is a chore on a sunny day when everyone's on vacation, but throw in predictions of maybe three to four inches of rain and 70 m.p.h. winds and I knew it would be the equivalent of end of the world traffic.

Thankfully, the lone tornado missed me and my commute path, but my trusty Waze app took me on a rather convoluted journey to avoid the worst traffic jams. All of which meant I thankfully didn't have to spend too many extra minutes seated in the car before spending 150 more watching "Transformers: The Last Knight."

Yet, by the time the mind-numbing freneticism and awful filmmaking courtesy of returning director Michael Bay left me feeling pummeled rather than entertained, I had the feeling that if I had been stuck in traffic all of that extra time I would have come out ahead. After all, the thunderstorms showed more artistry than the filmmaking (while both were flashy and aggressive, at least the storms existed for a reason) and being stuck in a traffic jam would have been more enjoyable.

Aside from making money, there's no reason for these films to exist. Other than 2011's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" that managed to be just mediocre, the rest of the entries -- the original "Transformers" (2007), its sequel two years later, "Revenge of the "Fallen" and 2014's "Age of Extinction" -- have all been substandard misfires.

In fact, my closing argument against that last installment -- "If you love furious spectacle overwhelming two-dimensional characters, plot holes and inconsistencies, bloat and overall stupidity, "Transformers: Age of Extinction" might be right up your alley. If you loathe the idea of nearly three hours of being pummeled with just that, I'd stay away and spend your hard-earned dollars elsewhere" -- equally applies here without really any need to add anything.

Except that this one is even worse. I've always said that at least Bay's films put their money up on the screen, and this one is no exception as it looks like it cost the equivalent of some poor country's GDP. But if said footage and visuals aren't thrilling, what's the point of employing all of those special effects house team members, shooting footage all around the world, and likely causing any editor to wince at the prospect of assembling all of that raw material and trying to make something of it?

Unfortunately, the six (count 'em!) editors are unable to do that, while the script by Art Marcum & Matt Holloway & Ken Nolan is little more than a jumbled and incoherent mess with some cringe-worthy dialogue, forced profundity and a storyline apparently inspired by Waze's convoluted "turn right, turn left, make a U-turn, pothole ahead" and so on direction. And speaking of the latter, we already know Bay can't direct anything and end up with a decent film, a point driven home here repeatedly over those two and a half hours of my life which I'll never get back. The only thing of interest is what might have convinced Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins to sign on to appear in this cinematic travesty.

Nothing more than loud and frenetic action, way too many characters and thus related storylines for a pic of this nature, and featuring fifty or more minutes that could and should have been cut (after all, if this is all about making money, a shorter runtime equals more showings per day), "Transformers: The Last Knight" is the worst entry in the franchise. Next time, I'll seek out a traffic jam to avoid sitting through a mess like this. The film rates as a 2.5 out of 10.




Reviewed June 19, 2017 / Posted June 21, 2017


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