PLOT While humans wage war on the Transformers, members of both sides come together to form an alliance.
CAST Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock
RATED PG-13 (strong action-violence and language )
BOTTOM LINE A $217 million migraine.
Our blockbuster summer of discontent, ushered in by such big-budget, teeth-rattling duds as “The Mummy,” the latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie and the first “King Arthur” installment, continues with “Transformers: The Last Knight.” The fifth film based on Hasbro’s automobile-robot toys and cartoons is virtually indistinguishable from the aforementioned movies, and it fails for the same reasons they did: more CGI than story, more action than character, more money than heart. The new “Transformers” may be this season’s loudest, longest and dullest extravaganza yet.
Remember when the “Transformers” movies were kind of fun? The first two installments were blithely preposterous, yet smart and self-aware. Erstwhile star Shia LaBeouf was perfect as Sam Witwicky, a teenager old enough to have a libido but young enough to believe in talking cars. The third film took an unwelcome turn toward superhero-style sturm und drang, and 2014’s “Age of Extinction,” which jettisoned LaBeouf and introduced Mark Wahlberg, proved a toxic mix of kid-friendly laughs and nasty violence.
Wahlberg returns in “The Last Knight” as Cade Yeager, the small-town inventor, and he still manages to charm even when surrounded by hulking, hollering robots like the stogie-chewing Hound (John Goodman) and the wheedling scavenger-bot Daytrader (Steve Buscemi). In this episode, Cade discovers that the Transformers have been around since Arthurian times — cue the mud-spattered flashbacks — and it turns out he must carry the torch of knighthood into the present day.
Even this dunderheaded movie remembers to include an empowered female character, and so we meet Vivian (Laura Haddock), an Oxford professor who wears body-hugging dresses and eight-inch heels to class. (Well, she’s someone’s idea of empowered.) There must also be an orphan girl (Isabela Moner) and a snooty Englishman, Sir Edmond Burton (Anthony Hopkins), who tries to crack us up by using slangy lingo like “dude.”
The movie redlines its engines throughout, but none of it works — and at 149 minutes, it feels nearly a full hour too long. This is said to be Michael Bay’s last time as director of this franchise, but a closing-credits scene tells us, unfortunately, that the Transformers will return.