Imagine, for a moment, that you’ve been invited to a children’s birthday party. You’re obliged to attend. It’s the hottest day of the year. You forgot your sunglasses. There are lots of tough guy dads at this outdoor soiree. There are countless action figures being thrown across the garden. One of them — a toy robot — repeatedly lands on your head. The noise is deafening.
Someone’s grandfather is drunk. The kids appear to be simultaneously re-enacting several scenes from two, three, maybe four of their favourite movies. One of ‘em is wielding a plastic sword and reciting entire passages from Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur. Another seems to have recently discovered Independence Day. Someone else is pretending to be C-3PO.
Someone else keeps making sexist jokes. The sun is in your eyes. You have forgotten your own name. You have no idea what’s going on. That blasted toy just landed on your head again. This is the Transformers 5 experience.
Or, to give it its proper title, Transformers: The Last Knight. What can we tell you about Transformers: The Last Knight? Depends what you wanna know. Mark Wahlberg is in it. It’s about robots in disguise. It is hopelessly, staggeringly and spectacularly stupid — even for a film based on a popular line of toys. It is also the third worst career move that Marky Mark ever made, right behind starring in his own workout video (in the ‘90s) and growing a preposterous mullet (which he’s still rockin’).
The plot is…it’s…uh...sorry, we’re having trouble with this bit. It is director Michael Bay’s fifth Transformers flick. If you haven’t been paying attention, then there’s nothing I can do for you. For those that have (you poor souls), then this is the gist: Transformer bots are still landing on earth. Marky Mark’s Cade (the beefiest beefcake inventor that ever lived) is on the run, with the good bots. There’s a war happening. Everyone starts freaking out after it’s revealed that the Transformers’ home planet is on course to crash right into earth.
There’s a fancy prologue involving King Arthur and robot aliens. Stanley Tucci plays Merlin. Back in present day, Anthony Hopkins is the historian who...wait, you’re still stuck on the King Arthur bit, aren’t you? Yeah, me too. Believe it or not, Transformers: The Last Knight is the worst King Arthur film of 2017. And there was us thinking that Guy Ritchie had already scooped that prize.
Mr Crash Bang Wallop himself, Michael Bay, lights a new fire under his billion-dollar toys with a jarring high-lights reel of muscular, angular shots, bathed in copious layers of blinding sunshine and crazy CGI. Which is to say that T5 is awful to look at. Crikey, the short takes are excruciating. There are, literally, thousands of them. There are new robots with such names as Onslaught, Mohawke and Migraine (only one of those is fake). They beat each other up. They spout inane one-liners. They are complete wreck-the-heads.
Did we mention Laura Haddock’s role as, ahem, Viviane Wembly? Jaysus. Poor Haddock is required to play a polo-playing professor from London. For some reason, she comes disguised as Megan Fox (who, by the way, used to star in these yokes). Mark Wahlberg describes the professor’s outfit as a “stripper’s dress”. Wahlberg also flashes his tummy, which makes Viviane Wembly all weak at the knees. And you thought this was just about robots.
A good-humoured Hopkins plays along, wearing the expression of a man who’s just downed three bottles of Buckfast and a party bag of Skittles. “Magic does exist,” he explains, at one point. “It was found long ago, inside a crashed alien ship”. See? They’re not even trying. The handsome army lads pout and frown. Bay all but abandons an entire sub-plot involving young Isabela Moner as a teenage runaway.
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Everything goes boom, crash, oomph, peow, wallop, zing, zat and zoom for 150 minutes. It’s terrifying. It physically hurts. It is so darn-near incomprehensible, I almost asked for my money back. And I didn’t even pay to see it.