Movie review: Transformers: The Last Knight fails to pack a punch

Movie review: Transformers: The Last Knight fails to pack a punch
Anthony Hopkins as Sir Edmund Burton (L) and the Autobot Hot Rod (R)
PHOTO: Paramount Pictures

Another year, another Transformers, and yet another movie that will be butchered by critics but goes on to make billions.

Director Michael Bay returns for the fifth installment of the Transformers saga with his famous (or infamous, depends on your preference) explosion filled blockbuster.

After five movies of giant robots punching other giant robots, I can say one thing for sure: the journey has not been great.

It is on a decline, in fact, as Transformers: The Last Knight came out as a disappointing sequel to a series that has spanned close to a decade.

Don't get me wrong, though. I love to watch giant robots fight and the series' explosive action sequences has drawn me back to the cinema again and again.

But that's exactly the problem with this latest sequel - there's less of it this time around.

Not enough Autobots' fight scenes in this installment.Photo: Paramount Pictures

From lengthy expositions to regular human soldiers in action, the result is a 150-minute movie with barely any Transformers' fight scenes in it.

You might prefer this kind of approach from Bay, but not me.

Let's talk about plot instead then.

Not that it has been the series' strongest suite. From various plot conveniences to basically making things up as they go along, the movie struggles to introduce new narratives while maintaining coherent continuity with the previous movies. 

To be fair, this is an issue suffered by all franchises with too many sequels.

Laura Haddock as Vivian Wembly (L) with Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager (R).Photo: Paramount Pictures

Mark Wahlberg, who plays Cade Yeager, is back in this movie, and he is still caught in the three-way conflict between the humans, Autobots and Decepticons.

The Autobots are basically the good bots looking for a safe sanctuary on Earth while the Decepticons are their evil counterparts. 

If you're confused about the factions, just remember that the Decepticons look evil and have evil-sounding names.

That's an evil looking sword, alright.Photo: Paramount Pictures

Without going into too many spoilers, all you have to know about this movie that the Transformers are again fighting with each other.

But it is different this time. It was revealed in this movie that the Transformers existed on Earth way before the events of the first movie, as far back as the Dark Ages, as well as World War 2.

What does this mean for the Transformers cinematic universe? Various spin-offs and sequels.

The opening sequence of a medieval battle might lead viewers to think that they entered the wrong movie hall.Photo: Paramount Pictures

Oh, and remember the last movie's notorious rampant product placement? It is mercifully lesser in this movie.

Or maybe I failed to notice them. The cinema was distractingly cold.

But here's my confession: my knowledge of the Transformers universe is unfortunately limited to the movies so there are some things that I might fail to appreciate.

I did not go into the movie hall expecting a superb sequel (very rarely are sequels superb, other than John Wick 2) so imagine my disappointment when the only thing I was anticipating - the fight sequences - were woefully lacking. 

Director Michael Bay (R) giving directions.Photo: Paramount Pictures

So should you watch this movie?

Regardless of its limitations, I have always thought that Michael Bay is the right man to direct a Transformers movie.

From its spectacular effects to tight, fast-paced actions, Bay manages to create a cinematic experience that is exciting and epic at the same time.

The Transformers are well designed and the amount of attention to details that go into production are staggering. There was immense joy for a robot geek like me to see the smooth transitions of the Transformers from their vehicle forms to towering humanoid figures.

The Autobot Optimus Prime.Photo: Paramount Pictures

While we may not see the end for Transformers as a movie franchise, I am genuinely curious for its future. Curious about how the subsequent movies can create enough reasons to bring cinema-goers back for another round of giant robots punch fest (not to be confused with Real Steel, which is a superb movie by the way).

I do hope they bring back Shia LaBeouf one of these days.

Rating: 2.5/5

Transformers: The Last Knight opens in cinemas islandwide on June 22.

akosasi@sph.com.sg

 

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