The Transformers franchise is now five movies in and ten years old, yet the question remains: What’s the point of all this? The overarching plot has become progressively more ridiculous with each new installment, and we’re still seeing the same CGI-driven fights between giant robot toys that the first one offered. Is anyone really still interested in this series? Clearly, there’s more money to be made with it, although 2014’s Age of Extinction, the fourth film in the franchise, experienced a sharp drop-off in domestic revenue (which was made up for by huge returns overseas).
But despite the drop in box-office receipts and the three-year gap since the last movie, director Michael Bay and his team don’t seem to have detected a problem with the formula used in Age of Extinction. The story told in The Last Knight is almost identical to that of its predecessor: The evil Decepticons attempt to reclaim an ancient relic hidden somewhere on Earth, which will supposedly allow them to revive their long-dead planet, Cybertron, at Earth’s expense (or something like that). The only significant change to this setup is that the relic in question is now from medieval England rather than the Cretaceous period (don’t worry—this movie still boasts a giant robot dinosaur, for reasons unknown). However, its concept of British mythology is explored so fleetingly and unconvincingly that the difference is hardly noticeable.
Mark Wahlberg reprises his role from Age of Extinction as Cade Yeager, a former inventor from Texas who’s now hiding from the authorities after his involvement with the Earth-friendly Autobots in the previous film. Although the threadbare script gives him little to do besides provide occasional comic relief and run through action sequences in slow motion, he proves once again to be a welcome replacement for Shia LaBeouf as the male lead. Laura Haddock, meanwhile, fills the requisite role of the hot female lead, playing an Oxford-educated history professor with a sophisticated English accent and a passing resemblance to Megan Fox. A surprising number of established actors also lend their talents, including franchise newcomers Anthony Hopkins and Steve Buscemi, but there’s little they can do to improve on the bland and barely coherent script.
The Last Knight has so many plot holes and contradictions that they essentially become a part of the movie’s texture rather than a noticeable problem. As with the other entries in the franchise, the CGI-driven effects and pyrotechnics are clearly intended to be the main show—and they represent the one area in which the film truly succeeds. The action sequences here are some of the most elaborate and impressive in the entire series, and the movie might be a decent watch for special-effects enthusiasts. But in terms of story and character development, The Last Knight is arguably the weakest and least compelling Transformers film to date, making it a forgettable waste of time for just about everyone else.