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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Exactly What You Expect
by Frank Wilkins

If there has ever been a more exhausting exercise in wasted effort than writing about a Transformers film, I donít know what it could be. Regardless of anything you read here, and no matter the amount of shade thrown by any of the hundreds of publications, websites, forums, or blogs around the internet, Transformers: The Last Knight will summon its legion of loyal fans to wreak what is sure to be an insane havoc upon the summer box office with numbers large enough to make even Warren Buffet raise an eyebrow. With the last two films in the franchise hauling in a combined $1 billion at the box office (despite being resoundingly panned by critics), thereís no reason to believe this latest in the autobot franchise wonít follow suit. Plain and simple, Transformers are money printing machines disguised as shape-shifting mechanical creatures. But more importantly, the films about them are critic proof, so it is my job over the next several paragraphs to waste my time and yours telling you just how bad Transformers: The Last Knight is.

In all fairness, through the years (itís been ten years since the first one!) the Transformers movies have been at the leading edge of filmmaking technology and have always provided for an exhilarating visual spectacle. The stuff they can make happen on the screen these days even occasionally drops the jaw of this old geezer. There are none more slick, shiny, and technologically advanced. But itís hard not to wonder what these movies could become if Michael Bay and company were to work all their digital wizardry around a story that actually means something... and populate it with human characters who seem, well, human. There were touches of this in 2007ís original and it was the best of the bunch because of it. None since then have been approached. Thatís not what Michael Bay is about and thatís not the kind of films he makes, so letís get on with talking about the latest.

For the uninitiated, Transformers are alien robots living on Earth that disguise themselves as cars, trucks, planes, and the like. Up until The Last Knight, we've always believed that they came to our planet for the first time a decade or so ago. But we now learn they actually arrived in England thousands of years ago during the time of King Arthur and Englandís battle against the Saxon invaders.

The film opens with a truly spectacular battle sequence featuring King Arthur and his knights waging war. Giant fireballs hurled by primitive catapults soar through the air burning, maiming, and obliterating humans on a massive scale. All seems hopeless for King Arthur until Merlin (Stanley Tucci) shows up on a white horse carrying a magical staff given to him by a long lost Transformer living deep beneath the English countryside. When presented to King Arthur on the battlefield, the staff brings almost immediate victory to the English. Yes, there be dragons! For a moment I thought we might be onto something interesting here.

Then the scene shifts abruptly to modern day and the proceedings become exactly what we expect. Most will undoubtedly love the outcome. I didnít.

We learn of a legion of men on Earth led by an English aristocrat named Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) who protects the autobots living here and occasionally calls on them to help us fight off invasions form the evil decepticons. Inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) teams up with Burton and British scholar Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) to retrieve the legendary staff that was believed buried with Merlinís body and is also being sought by Optimus Prime who has turned to the dark side under the tutelage of the evil Quintessa (Gemma Chan). So, The Last Knight is a chase movie of sorts with entities from all sides seeking the eternal power of a weapon that can regenerate the power of the robotsí planet while sapping the life from ours.

Are we supposed to laugh at the sheer stupidity of the plot? Bay makes us think itís Okay to do so as nearly every scene is bursting at the seams with his signature explosions, loud noises, four-second shots, and of course, plenty of Transformers that transform. Nothing else matters in the hands of Bay who brings back several characters from previous iterations but who really have nothing to do. For instance, the return of John Turturroís Agent Simmons character adds nothing. The same goes for Josh Duhamel as a gung-ho American soldier. A serious once-over with a lead editing pipe would take nothing away from the incomprehensible plot, yet would give back precious minutes to our lives.

Transformers: The Last Knight is exactly what youíd expect. Itís loud, rambunctious, flashy, and about as dumb as a box of rocks. But you already knew that

(Released by Paramount Pictures and rated ďPG-13Ē for violence and intense sequences of sci-fi action, language, and some innuendo.)

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