With “Transformers: The Last Knight” (opening in theaters on Wednesday), we have arrived at the fifth movie in the series based on the legendary Hasbro toys — perhaps the franchise that’s most in on the joke that everything on the screen is just insane.
Director Michael Bay’s final time (or so he says) at the helm of the franchise is filled with a lot of fun and bizarre moments to counter the serious tone of the story, which includes Optimus Prime turning evil and the possibility that the world will come to an end.
But not even the unusual sight of Anthony Hopkins acting across a Transformer is worth a summer movie with a running time of over two hours, and that’s what you’ll have to go through if you decide to go see this movie. (But those who have watched the entire franchise, or many of Bay’s movies, know what they’re getting into here.)
In “The Last Knight,” we are given a bit of a history lesson, Transformers-style. The machines have actually been coming to earth since the Dark Ages, fighting along equally mythical legends like Lancelot and the wizard Merlin. In fact, it’s Merlin (played delightfully by Stanley Tucci) who is given a staff by one of the Transformers that would give him the magic behind his sorcery.
But there was always a warning that someone evil would one day come to earth and take back the staff, which leads us to the present day.
Mark Wahlberg returns as Cade Yeager, the struggling inventor who has befriended the Autobots. Since the last movie, “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” Transformers are appearing on earth more frequently and the humans have turned against them all — Autobots and Decepticons.
Yeager keeps the Autobots hidden in a junkyard hoping to hold out until Optimus Prime returns to lead them again.
Prime has gone back to his home planet of Cybertron, but there he’s brainwashed by the evil Quintessa and ordered to return back to earth to retrieve the staff. While back on earth, astronomer Sir Edmond Burton (Hopkins), the keeper of the Transformers legacy with humans, recruits Yeager and Oxford professor Viviane Wembley (Laura Haddock) to find the Merlin staff and save the world.
If you understood any of that, congratulations, you are on the same wavelength as Michael Bay and his screenwriters.
As with most Bay movies, it’s the action and silly moments that are the most enjoyable. A highlight in “The Last Knight” is a Transformer doubling as Burton’s butler named Cogman who tries desperately to be dignified, though he can’t help being overcome by violent outbursts.
Some enjoyable Cogman scenes: When he randomly attacks Yeager, when he has road rage in the middle of a car chase (while Burton gives chasing Decepticons the middle finger), and when our heroes are in a submarine (yes, there are submarines in this movie) and Cogman catches fish for Yeager and Wembley and we watch as the machine beats the hell out of the fish before serving them.
Needless to say, this isn’t a good Transformers movie to bring the kids to (lots of adult language, too).
Then there’s Bumblebee, who has always been the highlight of the franchise and doesn’t disappoint in this one (a spin-off movie for “B” is in the works).
The biggest gripe I have with the movie is simply that it’s way too long. It’s one of the better movies in the franchise, but why Bay feels he needs over two hours to tell these stories is puzzling.