By Adam Brannon
Film Reviewer from Movie Metropolis for Hull What’s On
Shhh! Don’t tell anyone I told you this but I’m a little bit of a Transformers fanboy. As a child I had many of the series’ toys and adored the animated series. Heck, I even have an Optimus Prime bobblehead next to my bed.
So when director Michael Bay announced in 2005 that he was planning a Transformers live-action movie with Steven Spielberg as producer, my heart skipped a beat. 2007 came and the film was everything I wanted.
Fast forward ten years and the series has, rightly or wrongly, become a laughing stock for critics the world over. Derided for nonsensical plots, messy special effects and in some cases racism, it’s been regarded as one of the worst film franchises of all time. Does the fifth entry in the franchise, The Last Knight redeem the series somewhat?
Humans are at war with the Transformers and Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) has disappeared. They 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 alliance of Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), Bumblebee, a Lord (Sir Anthony Hopkins) and an Oxford professor (Laura Haddock) to save the planet.
Michael Bay’s swansong is definitely the best of the series since the 2007 original, but suffers from all the problems of its 3 sequels.
On a budget of $260million, there was no doubt The Last Knight would look spectacular, but things really have stepped up a gear. The CGI is some of the best put to film and makes the uncharacteristically sloppy special effects of Age of Extinction look incredibly dated.
The Transformers themselves all look great with Bumblebee in particular taking on the role of “lead bot”. Newcomer Squeeks is sure to become the BB-8 of the franchise and is predictably adorable despite his limited screen-time.
Of the cast, it’s a story of same old. The voice acting on all the Transformers is good with a disappointingly underused Peter Cullen stealing the show once again. Mark Wahlberg is permanently likeable and it’s always a pleasure having John Turturro’s Agent Simmons returning to the screen. Laura Haddock is the typical Michael Bay choice of female lead, channelling Megan Fox, Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Nicola Peltz.
However, Sir Anthony Hopkins is where this film raises itself above the parapet. The veteran actor is really exceptional and brightens the movie in every single scene he appears in. You can tell he’s not taking it too seriously, and that is exactly the point of this series.
Sure, the plot is a hot steaming mess of nonsensical dialogue with loose strands of story, and at 149 minutes it’s a good half hour too long, but with all the fear and hate in real life, sometimes it’s nice to switch your brain off and escape to a world where robots exist – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Michael Bay may not be the subtlest of directors. Give him a classy love story and he’ll turn it into Fifty Shades of Grey, but he’s clearly a very clever man. The critics have savaged this franchise but audiences keep coming back for more and who can blame them?
If this is, as has been said by the man himself, Michael Bay’s last entry into the Transformers canon, then it’s not a bad film to leave on whatsoever.
You know the score by now. Don’t go in expecting Shakespeare or Oscar-winning performances and you’ll be just fine.
Check out the top 5 Transformers Movie Moments over on Movie Metropolis for more robot-themed content.
Our score: ★★★☆☆
Watch if you liked: Godzilla, Pacific Rim.
Transformers: the Last Knight is showing now at Odeon Cinema, Hull