PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With all due respect for viewers for whom each new Transformers movie is a gift: lucky you.
And, yes, there may be an element of envy in that sentiment from those of us for whom each new Transformers adventure is a punishment of sorts.
Just an observation as the fifth – fifth – installment surfaces, presumably bringing pleasure to its faithful audience while striking fear in the hearts of the rest of us: the “chore to sit through” crowd.
Think of me as a charter member.
Transformers: The Last Knight (if only…) follows the other four outings between 2007 and now which, if they’ve achieved nothing else, have at least made me extraordinarily familiar with my watch.
For the uninitiated, what began as a line of toys and a cartoon has eventuated into a five-film franchise of science fiction thrillers that are weak movies but apparently effective toy commercials.
And although there are actors involved, the stars – the warring, shape-shifting, alien-machine robots — are the toys.
Spectacles these movies are, but transformative experiences they are not. However, yawning and eye-rolling are very much in order as these seemingly endless pyrotechnic exercises are conducted by one-note director Michael Bay, who couldn’t be farther from a born storyteller.
Like its predecessors, Transformers number five is a long, loud, lumbering dose of Bayhem, which translates as an assault on the senses with no dramatic interest or emotional heft whatsoever. The assumption Bay seems to make is that his audience has the attention span of a gnat.
In the latest adventure, a direct sequel of the last one, humans and transformers are at war, and Optimus Prime is gone. They key to saving the humans’ future lies buried in the secrets of the past, while transformers were on Earth. Or something like that.
To save the world, mechanic Cade Yeager, played by a returning Mark Wahlberg, forms an alliance with Bumblebee, an astronomer played by Anthony Hopkins, and an Oxford University professor (Laura Haddock), to learn the secrets of why the transformers keep coming back to Earth.
As for Optimus Prime, he finds Cybertron, his dead home planet and realizes that he was responsible for its destruction. And he will be able to bring it back to life if he can find a particular artifact on Earth.
Despite making five of these epics, which have ranged from boring all the way to really boring, Bay is not a one-trick pony, having also directed such films as Bad Boys, Armageddon, The Rock, and Pearl Harbor. But at this point, the franchise pretty much defines him.
And let’s face it: in his five Transformers episodes, he has essentially made the same film five times, each dominated by explosive special effects, which is about the only aspect that lingers in the memory, although not pleasantly so.
So we’ll repeat 2 stars out of 4. With more-is-less as its guiding principle, Transformers: The Last Knight is more of the same. And if you’ve seen any or all of the other four films, you’ve already seen it.