Transformers: The Last Knight review

The poster for Transformers: The Last Knight proudly declares that it was "Filmed with IMAX 3D cameras". And you can tell – never before has such an incoherent tale been told with such clarity...

As anyone who's been following the... Actually, what do you call this? "Saga" suggests a degree of gravitas that these loud and busy summer blockbusters don't deserve. "Series" suggests Michael Bay and Hasbro always thought there would be at least four sequels, a level of planning and thought undermined by the increasingly self-indulgent plots. Hmm. Oh, hang on, I think I've got it... 

Yes, so, as anyone who's been following this herd of cash cows will be aware, this is the fifth installment in Michael Bay's extended toy commercial, where the good Transformers, the Autobots, under the leadership of Optimus Prime, are still pitched in loud CGI war with the bad Transformers, the Decepticons, lead by Megatron. This time round there's a load of portentous old bollocks about a staff, Merlin, the Transformers' role through history and the rebuilding of their home planet, Cybertron, which, wouldn't you know it, is inexorably linked to Earth. And if you can follow that, or remember the specific nuances of the previous four films, then you're a better man than I.

transformers the last knight 2017 embed1But, frankly, like the seemingly endless Pirates of the Caribbean tales, if you're not going to give me a recap of who's dead, who's defected, who's disappeared etc., at the beginning of each movie – "previously on Transformers" – then I'm not going to sit through four overlong Michael Bay movies in order to better understand a fifth overlong Michael Bay movie. 

So, yes, this one meanders through history, particular Arthurian legend, gives Anthony Hopkins a chance to buy a new house (and good on you, Sir Anthony, we'd all do the same), keeps Mark Wahlberg in vest tops for the rest of his natural and introduces a new kickass, historian professor love interest in the form of British actress Laura Haddock. 

And, basically / unsurprisingly, it does exactly what it says on the tin, lurching from set piece to set piece, dotted with the sort of "humour" that makes C3P0's "jokes" in Star Wars look like Woody Allen classics, frequently taking itself far too seriously in the process and taking around two hours to get to the climactic battle. They could, as with all of the films in the herd, lose at least 30 minutes without affecting the story or comprehension, and I speak from authority, thanks to a toilet break and a very pleasant nap just before the big finale: "is it tomorrow yet?" asks a character just before the end battle. No. It's not. It just feels like it should be...

But look, performances are as good as they need to be – read into that what you will – the CGI and IMAX 3D are rather impressive and it will, of course, make a metric fuckton of cash hence the final credits fading out to set up number six. Is it any good though? Does it matter? It's precisely as good as it has to be, rattling along for the most part, ticking the summer blockbuster boxes and allowing Bay to blow stuff up on a regular basis. Hey, if it ain't broke...

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Neil Davey is a freelance writer who specialises in things you can do sitting down, such as travelling, eating, drinking, watching films, interviewing famous people and playing video games. (And catching the occasional salmon.) Neil is the author of two Bluffer's Guides (Chocolate, and Food, both of which make lovely presents, ahem), and, along with Stuart O'Connor, is a co-founder of Screenjabber. Neil also writes / has written for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Square Mile, Delicious Magazine, Sainsbury's Magazine, Foodism, Escapism, Hello! and Square Meal.

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