The Transformers films have always promised and delivered explosive action sequences, humour and attitude from the Autobots themselves, as well as an elaborate story that sees the Decepticons up to no good. The latest installment in this series is no different in that you will get what you expect, but also a bit different in that it offers more.
Transformers: The Last Knight is the fifth film set in Hasbro’s universe and is once again directed by Michael Bay. It’s come a long way from the first Transformers film in 2007 that introduced us to the war between the Autobots and Decepticons that was playing out on Earth. Since then the films have moved away from the unexpected and reluctant hero found in Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) to a more traditional hero in Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), and this time around the Transformers are at war with humans now that Optimus Prime has left.
The film ties in with the legend of King Arthur and his wizard Merlin – while it starts with a bloody Medieval battle, it will eventually unravel the secret of why the Transformers keep coming back to Earth. To save the world (once again), Yeager must team up with the still awesome Bumblebee, mysterious astronomer Sir Edmond Burton (Sir Anthony Hopkins) and English professor Viviane Wembley (Laura Haddock). Wahlberg plays the role of the resilient, rough and resourceful Yeager well, while Hopkins’ portrayal of the eccentric and determined Burton is excellent, despite a few instances when I felt the script didn’t quite fit with his character.
The Last Knight’s story will take you on a journey that to me had echoes of Star Wars, Tomb Raider, and even National Treasure. Burton’s mostly polite robotic butler Cogman reminded me a little of C-3PO (minus his sociopathic tendencies of course), while the small Autobot sidekick to new cast member Izabella, Sqweeks, resembled R2-D2 with his bravery but limited ability to communicate. Wembley’s very traditional and noticeable English accent, combined with her quick transformation to dive headfirst into and embrace her father’s mysterious but powerful legacy, left me feeling her character had been at least a little inspired by Lara Croft. Being a fan of adventure films and games, I also found myself thinking of National Treasure’s Benjamin Gates as he hunted for a lost precious treasure, following clues left behind through the millennia.
But perhaps the fact that I was reminded of all these should also bring with it a caution of a very long (two and a half hours) and often confusing story. Don’t get me wrong, the Transformers are still awesome, and the massive, very explosive action sequences are still a sight to behold, especially in IMAX and 3D, but it is possible to get a little lost along the way. For me I didn’t mind that too much, in fact I have almost come to expect that from the Transformers universe now, and so I still enjoyed this journey where I was asked to believe in huge alien robots who can transform and disguise themselves as different vehicles. Check your reality in at the door and you will probably enjoy the ride too.
Transformers: The Last Knight opens across South African cinemas today.