'Transformers: The Last Knight’ may leave some cheering, but others begging for no more

“Transformers: The Last Knight” picks up from “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” after Optimus Prime is cast into space and the Transformers are hunted by a global military force.

Meanwhile, legend has it that the staff of Merlin was given to him by a Transformer (naturally) and that his descendants are the only ones who can wield the artifact and save Earth. Enter Dr. Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock), who is a professor of British history, knights, King Arthur and every other myth that is needed to explain how humans received the staff from Transformers. The Witwiccans are led by Sir Edmund Burton (Sir Anthony Hopkins).  

The film is lengthy at a 2:48 run time but those precious minutes pack in all of the elements and tidbits that will lead to the expanded “Transformers universe,” a mashup of Hasbro product-based films set to be released in the near future.

Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci and Josh Duhamel are back along with newcomer, Isabela Moner. Moner is clearly being primed to appear in future installments and Haddock’s Wembley would be a welcome repeat character. Unfortunately, Sir Anthony Hopkins – who is unable to deliver a poor performance – astounds with the horribly muddled, babbling character that is Sir Burton. His screen time is overused and his explanations for the Witwiccan-Merlin connection are confusingly lengthy.

On a bright note, the banter, comedic timing and dialogue in “Last Knight” are the best of the franchise, which allows some reprieve from the overbearing subplots.

Action fans will OD on the astoundingly seamless and brilliant special effects. Michael Bay throws in all of his signature effects plus a few twists that will take your attention away from your popcorn. Laura Haddock is the most mature actress who has been installed in the franchise. She maintains a level of comedic composure and grace that has eluded her predecessors. She is absolutely refreshing to watch amid the inflated caricatures of her costars. If you loved the action of the previous Transformers films, you will have three hours of continuous exploding, flying, sinking, swimming, crashing and floating fun!

There are about eight subplots that equate to a cinematic gumbo of a disjointed mess. A transformer goddess – who receives no introduction – seduces Optimus Prime to turn against Earth. Megatron gathers a suicide squad of decepticons from the military and there is a missing artifact that can save Earth and Cybertron – which happen to be age old enemies – but no one got that memo. Then Cybertron eats Earth. Yep. Makes total sense.

Young viewers (and their caretakers) may not be able to endure the nearly three-hour runtime and popcorn-movie fans who need a coherent plot may wonder why there are so many players who seem to have no purpose. You may also ask the standard questions that are generated by run-of-the-mill plot conventions: Why is there always a secret artifact that only one person can find or wield? Why is Earth always only given a 24- to 72-hour heads-up before it is annihilated? Why is Earth always saved by a handful of people in the eleventh hour? And why are evil, omnipotent villains always destroyed within the final eight minutes of the film? Unfortunately, “Last Knight” won’t answer these questions so just enjoy your popcorn and the 3-hours of magnificent CGI explosions.

“Last Knight” is a cinematic romp that is teeming with beautiful visual scores. Unfortunately the ambitious plot-preparation-for-future-installments may prove to be more mind-numbing than inspiring. This is also Michael Bay’s last film for the franchise, and sadly, the lowest rated. 

Transformers Fans: 3 out of 5 Transformers

Family & Popcorn-Movie Fans: 2 out of 5 Autobots

Action Fans: 4 out of 5 Dinobots