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Transformers: The Last Knight

June 21, 2017

At one point Sir Anthony Hopkins (Remains of the Day, Shadowlands) says: "What a bitchin' ride". That's all you need know.

 Some films are made for the critics. Others, for the fans, and others still - thirteen year old boys with mild-to-severe concussion. Transformers: The Last Knight falls into that third category; a two and a half hour special-effects fiasco in which SO much happens, and yet nothing happens. 

 

The film begins in the Dark Ages, with King Arthur and his knights facing imminent defeat at the hands of the Saxons until a Transformer helpfully intervenes and saves the day. Later, we learn the Transformers also previously hung out with Da Vinci, inspired Tesla and turned the tide against the Nazis. In fact, there's so much revisionist Hasbro history going on in this movie you genuinely expect to learn Jesus didn't turn water into wine - he transformed it (cue robotic morphing sound effect). 

 

Transformers: The Last Knight is something of a paradox, for it is simultaneously one of the dumbest and most complicated stories ever told. The short version is: there's a superweapon hidden on earth that everybody - both human and alien - desperately seeks. The longer version involves Merlin, British noble lineage, a Transformers deity, robot-hunting humans, robot-saving humans and, for some reason, John Turturro playing basketball in Havana. 

 

This is a film that presupposes nobody outside of England actually knows London isn’t a five minute drive from Oxford. It's a film that begins in Chicago, then has its characters commute - only minutes later - to a Native American reserve in the desert. And in that desert, there's a tiny one-street shanty town that inexplicably boasts a 20-storey grand hotel. It's a film that says things like “The object is growing 3 metres a day” then, just two lines later, “It’s growing exponentially”. It's a film where nobody bats an eyelid at an alien robotic tyrannosaurus rex, but if you even just believe in the possibility of magic - you're a crazy person. It's a film, perhaps worst of all, that has Sir Anthony Hopkins (Remains Of The Day) deliver the line: "What a bitchin' car she is!"

 

Perhaps it's too much to expect for a film based on a children's toy (or, rather, the fifth film now) to offer anything more than the cinematic version of said children slamming said toys together whilst yelling 'Blam! Ka-Pow! Pew Pew Pew!' And yet, the original Transformers found a way. Its characters had clearly defined motivations and its story was broadly comprehensible. By the fifth film, however every character has been reduced to nothing more than a thinly veiled caricature of a human being, whist the Transformers exist only to destroy things and mumble the occasional rap lyric. As a showreel for the extraordinary capabilities of special effects departments, Transformers: The Last Knight is phenomenal. On every other front it's an abysmal waste of time. 

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