Rating: 1.5 out of 5
With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to define this franchise. The first film was solidly entertaining, but the sequels have been hit and miss. And this jarringly chaotic episode never finds its feet. Is it aimed at teen boys (robots hitting each other), young children (a random little girl in the cast) or action fans (Mark Wahlberg being heroic)? Meanwhile, the plot only barely connects a stream of wildly overblown set-pieces.
We find Wahlberg's mad inventor Cade now in hiding protecting the good Autobots, while government meathead Lennox (Josh Duhamel) chases the evil Decepticons. Somewhere in space, tentacled temptress Quintessa (Gemma Chan) has turned heroic Transformer Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) to the dark side, and now they're heading to suck the life out of Earth, as you do. Humanity's only hope is in a mysterious talisman Cade possesses and the staff of Merlin the magician (Stanley Tucci in an Arthurian prologue), which only Oxford professor Vivian (Laura Haddock) can wield. She's accompanied by dotty Sir Edmund (Anthony Hopkins), who helpfully explains the mythology with the assistance of robot butler Cogman (Jim Carter). Then everyone converges on Stonehenge for an epic battle.
To be fair, Bay does have an eye for spectacle, and the film looks properly amazing in Imax 3D, especially as Bay throws everything he can think of at the screen, including some adorable baby dinosaur robots, a submarine chase, various elements from Star Wars and Alien, and a military invasion that desperately wants to outdo Saving Private Ryan's opening scene. All of this is piled into a blender and edited together with absolutely no sense of logic or geography.
The actors hang on as best they can, constantly explaining the inane mythology in lengthy speeches before diving into the next bit of action chaos. This means there's no time at all to develop their roles into actual characters with any sense of interrelationship, as people appear here and there at random, crisscrossing the globe in record time, then vanish from the screen until they're needed again.
Thankfully, their dialogue is full of throwaway humour, which at least gives us something to smile at before the next outbreak of hyper-violence. It's a shame Bay has so conclusively lost control of this franchise, because the first film had plenty of heart, properly engaging characters and an exhilarating story. By contrast, this movie leaves us feeling like we've been smacked in the face for two and a half long hours. So the pre-credit tag teasing part six is chilling for all the wrong reasons.
Your browser doesn't support HTML5 video.
Facts and Figures
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Hasbro Studios
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Cast & Crew
Director: Michael Bay
Screenwriter: Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Ken Nolan
Starring: Mark Wahlberg as Cade, Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime (voice), Frank Welker as Galvatron / Megatron (voice), Gemma Chan as Quintessa, John Goodman as Hound (voice), Ken Watanabe as Drift (voice), John DiMaggio as Crosshairs (voice), Jess Harnell as Barricade (Voice), Tyrese Gibson as Robert Epps, Laura Haddock as Vivian Wembley, Josh Duhamel as Colonel Lennox, Anthony Hopkins as Sir Edmund Burton, Stanley Tucci as Joshua Joyce, Santiago Cabrera as Santos, John Turturro as Agents Simmons, Isabela Moner as Izabella, Liam Garrigan as King Arthur, Sophia Myles as Darcy, Jerrod Carmichael as Desi, Mark Ryan as Director Special Forces, Barbara Eve Harris as Colonel #2, Benjamin Flores Jr. as Sir Kay, Edward Mannering as TRF Group Leader, Kevin Kent as Scientist Delegate, Angela Holmes as Scientist Delegate, David Olawale Ayinde as Male lawyer, Andy Bean as American Serviceman, Walles Hamonde as Lancelot, Martin McCreadie as Tristian, John Hollingworth as Female Lawyer, Aisha Kabia as SEAL, Joost Janssen as Viviane's Father, Elizabeth Croft as Bakery Delivery Man / Pedestrain, Stephen Hogan as Military Attache, Bern Collaco as Heavy Kid, Dan Warner as Posh Polo Guest, Juliocesar Chavez as Scientist, Karl Farrer as Scientist Delegate, Deborah Rock as Scientist, Michael Chapman as Pedestrian, Jill Buchanan as Pedestrian, Ty Hurley as Spencer, Jag Patel as Attache, Jason Matthewson as Saebert, Graham Curry as Oxford College Student, Daniel Adegboyega as Polo Match Guest, Bernardo Santos as Polo Spectator, Christian Wolf-La'Moy as Alden, Peter Meyer as Nobleman, Dino Fazzani as Pedestrian, David Macey as Tourist at Museum, Adam Lazarus as JPL Director, Eloise Henwood as German Soldier, Claude Knowlton as CNN News Reporter, Tom Dab as Female Lawyer #2