SINGAPORE: Here are the cold, hard facts whether you’re a fan of the beloved Robots in Disguise or not: Almost every card-carrying film critic everywhere has regarded Transformers: The Last Knight, the fifth instalment to the action blockbuster franchise, with great abhorrence. Nonetheless, fans of Michael Bay from around the world will still flock to the cinemas to see it, and the franchise will see a massive increase to its already unbelievable US$3.7 billion global box office intake. We’ll probably also be gifted with Transformers 6 in the next two to three years. Alas, it's a given that we all have to unfortunately live with.
Critics have always hated Michael Bay and his Transformers movies with a passion. So why does this noisy garbled movie series keep getting made? It's all about the big money, especially if you add in all the additional merchandise and action figures revenue to the box office receipts. And if you’re guaranteed to bank in the next cool billion globally with every instalment made, then why should one worry about little things like telling a coherent story, not succumbing to pandering chaos or using your actors as more than just props?
Because when it’s a Michael Bay film, it’s more important to just blow stuff up. Here, in between all the mass destruction of cities, giant robot fight sequences and expected sexual objectification, we find out that – contrary to the first film’s story a decade ago – the Transformers actually arrived from their home planet hundreds of years ago to England, in the time of King Arthur and his knights. After this failed, potentially funny Monty Python-esque prologue, we are then to accept that the key to saving the world lies buried in the secrets of the past and the mythological concept of Transformers shaping human history.
Enter the unlikely alliance of Mark Wahlberg’s inventor Cade, Sir Anthony Hopkins’ English Earl Sir Edmund and franchise newcomer Laura Haddock’s Oxford professor Vivienne, all on a mission to find the magic staff that belongs to Merlin (Stanley Tucci) to save us all.
No truer words have been spoken when Vivienne utters the line “Logic has left the building”. I’d be the first to admit that one should not expect the fifth instalment in a franchise about warring alien-robots to be Shakespeare in the Park or written by Chekhov, but never did I expect a plot so inconceivably indigestible.
Perhaps that’s why Bay and his team resorted to hurtling the audience from location to location via car, submarine and spaceship at a whiplash pace so we can’t catch our breaths or focus our eyes to realise this is what we've paid good money to be entertained with.
There are one or two respites in the film. The fact that Bay managed to get Hopkins on board this film is still beyond comprehension. But it must be highlighted that the thespian looks like he’s having a whale of a time with the preposterous jokes, bantering with a semi-funny C-3PO knock-off robot-butler, and the ridiculousness of the entire proceedings. That said, his presence and a few moments of forced levity do little to elevate the film.
The special visual effects are indeed jaw-dropping and there are a number of fun sequences, such as fan-favourite Bumblebee reassembling himself and taking out various opponents in the process. But for those looking for something beyond robo-destruction porn, you’d be hard pressed to find it, especially in the tediously chaotic climax of the film.
All said, do with this review/information what you will. This is not the worst Transformers movie in the series but it’s most certainly not the best either. And yes fanboys, there’s not enough Optimus Prime in this one. Consider yourself warned.
Genevieve Loh’s rating: 1.5/5