|Starring||Mark Wahlberg, Laura Haddock, Stanley Tucci, Peter Cullen, John Goodman, Josh Duhamel|
|Release||21 JUN (US) 22 JUN (UK)|
I can't remember the last time I saw a screenplay so lazy. Dialogue is so far beyond parody it's impossible to know whether it should be taken seriously; at one point, Josh Duhamel's Super Army Man makes a stunning discovery and intones in a somber voice: "Oh my God... A big alien ship." All characters start out as one-note (mad historian, uptight but sexy professor lady) but slowly devolve into using crude Americanisms. Nowhere is this felt more sorely than in the character of Cogman, the - deep breath for a sentence I never, ever thought I'd write - sassy ninja robot butler, who starts out British and prim and proper like C3PO until suddenly he's expressing rage issues, calling people bitches and singing Ludacris lyrics. Oh, and he's voiced by the butler from Downton Abbey. Trace the thought process. All four seconds of it.
One scene, a classic comedic misunderstanding, sees folk downstairs misinterpret loud noises and dialogue from upstairs as rough pillow talk... except not a single line heard could realistically be interpreted both ways. It'd take five minutes for even a below average writer to punch up that scene, let alone a whole writers' room. The voiceovers too are dreadful; John Goodman delivers his lines with all the zeal of a man with 15 minutes to spare between jobs, reminiscent of Krusty the Klown speeding through his lines in the Simpsons sound booth. Even reliable old Peter Cullen is on autopilot, continuously repeating "I am Optimus Prime" like he's come down with a touch of what Anthony Hopkins' character calls "robot dementia".
You're given no driftwood to cling to; barely a single scene where you don't have to whisper under your breath, "Wait, what the fuck is going on now?" Mark Wahlberg is well served by the permanently confused look he is cursed to wear in perpituity, that single Diving Bell and the Butterfly expression locked in and deployed during scenes of peril/comedy/romance/other. Laura Haddock is the closest thing The Last Knight has to a saving grace, managing to come off as naturally funny and more than a little Lara Croft-y, although even she has to endure being squeezed into a tight black dress and having Wahlberg label her a stripper. Anthony Hopkins is at least off the leash, clearly revelling in the kind of material that allows him to play his trademark wistful mystery man one minute then a screaming nutcase the next. You'll find yourself longing for some sort of consistency, even from one scene to the next.
The whole movie is a weird, unsettling mix of juvenile storytelling and military fetishism. Duhamel and his crew land at the final location and emerge all guns blazing, but we're never even told what they're firing at; explosions literally hide the fact that they're shooting at thin air. The director has an over-reliance on battlefield gymnastics, explosions sending soldiers spinning through the air, even in the Dark Ages: Michael Bay's History Of The World is exactly as braindead and boorish as you think it's going to be.
And yet, three stars. Why? Because it never fails to entertain, even if for the wrong reasons. This is a movie where Hopkins breaking into 10 Downing Street and threatening the Prime Minister with "the watch that killed Hitler" is a mere footnote; a movie where one of Her Majesty's Royal Navy submarines is revealed to be a Transformer; a movie where a robot planet cunts a hole in the Moon and no one bats an eyelid; a movie so astonishingly bereft of self-awareness, one character has a tiny doe-eyed robot moped friend called Sqweeks that might as well be called Jar Jar fucking Binks. I can guarantee not a single idea was taken off the table during its creation. I cried laughing. It cannot be parodied. Transformers: The Last Knight is untouchable. It's a billion-dollar bulletproof vest. You can't stay mad at something so adorably simple, it's like being mad at Forrest Gump.
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