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Movie Review: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Unapologetic Garbage, But Acting Is Rather Good

By Bob Garver

You’re probably expecting me to trash this movie. And make no mistake, it deserves to get trashed. Its script is horrendous, its editing is a joke, its jokes are painful, and all the metallic whooshing and clanging get old real quick. It’s the same collection of complaints I always have about the “Transformers” movies. But I can’t work up too much ire for this movie for the simple reason that at this point I’m just too numb.

This is not some sort of submission to the “Transformers” franchise. I am not saying “We all know these movies are dumb, so just turn off your brain and enjoy the ride.” Nor am I saying “These movies are all terrible and people just keep seeing them anyway, so I guess they can just keep doing whatever they want until one of them bombs.” What I am saying is that relative to what I’ve been seeing lately, this movie isn’t that bad.

It seems like every other week I see a movie with the same problems as this one, and those movies often do it worse. In a summer that has given us “Alien: Covenant,” “The Mummy,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” among others, the badness of “Transformers” just doesn’t stand out anymore. At least this movie doesn’t have a problem with, say, poor lighting. I can think of four movies in the past two months that irritated me with their murkiness. Everything about this movie is an eyesore, but I can’t say I didn’t get a good look at it. This movie is a $217 million debacle that looks like it cost $217 million. Compare that to “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” which cost $175 million and looked like it cost a no-frills party sub to be shared among the cast and crew. By the way, I didn’t get to review that movie because it lost to the opening weekend of “Snatched,” but I assure you that the review would have been a series of insults followed by a one-star rating.

The acting here is wildly uneven, and the movie probably takes it as a compliment that I said “wild.” Mark Wahlberg as the lead human has a clueless charm about him, which is a step up from previous lead Shia LaBeouf, who was clueless without the charm. Isabela Moner as his little-girl sidekick is less annoying than kids usually are in these movies, outside of one “Scrappy-Doo moment” where she antagonizes the villains without a plan and immediately needs saving. Josh Duhamel is back for the sole purpose of being a familiar face because there is nothing to his character. Most of the robots range from bland to insufferable, but John Goodman is always welcome, Jim Carter is a nice surprise as a servant-bot, and Peter Cullen and Frank Welker are still awesome after 33 years as Optimus Prime and Megatron, respectively. Then there’s Sir Anthony Hopkins. His shtick is sounding dignified, then sounding undignified. It is glorious every time. I know I had a few compliments for some of the other actors, but he’s the main reason I’m tacking an extra half-star onto this half-witted movie.

We’re at about the halfway point in 2017, and I’m seeing a few preliminary Best and Worst lists from critics who just can’t wait until January to have those fun discussions. I won’t be able to fill out a 10 Best list without making some major compromises, but I’ll have no trouble filling out a 10 Worst list outside of some tough choices about what to leave off. I hate to say it, but this movie might get left off. It certainly won’t be in the bottom five. Shame on 2017 for giving us at least five movies worse than the unapologetic garbage that is “Transformers: The Last Knight.”

One and a Half Stars out of Five.

“Transformers: The Last Knight” is rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of sci-fi action, language and some innuendo. Its running time is 149 minutes.

Contact Bob Garver at rrg251@nyu.edu.