The new "Transformers" movie is subtitled "The Last Knight," but it should be "Just Stop Already."
Start with Mark Wahlberg, who has had too much experience co-starring with CGI creations. He's so good at talking to stuffed bears at cybermechanical warlords that real actors are pretty much obsolete.
The same can be said of talented yet unambitious director Michael Bay. He's focused exclusively on Transformers for so many years that the movies have come to define him. Any ambitions he had at being a serious filmmaker have long since evaporated as he's laser-focused on tinkering wiith his megabudget toyboxes.
It's gotten to the point that fans don't even expect Transformers movies to be good anymore. Mediocrity is good enough, and that's exactly what they get. Such trifles as scripts and performances fall to the wayside. All the movies need to succeed are mind-numbing effects, a steady IV drip of explosions and Optimus Prime barking defiant catch phrases in his soothing baritone.
While an uninspired and agonizingly way-too-long movie, "Transformers: The Last Knight" is nowhere close to the worst of the series. By fitting snuggly in the middle range of its mediocre predecessors, it works as a cog to keep the ginormous machine running. If two-plus hours of watching Wahlberg talk to himself amid CGI 'splosions is what you want, that's what you get and more.
That's not quite fair. There are real-life actors in the movie, although their purposes range from vague to head-scratchingly bizarre.
At the top of the list is Anthony Hopkins as some sort of mystic who has connected the Transformers tale of intergalactic domination to Arthurian legends. He rambles on about legacies, chosen ones and other topics that would get him involuntarily checked into an assisted care facility.
Also along for the ride is a British professor (Laura Haddock) who is full of cynical skepticism and flirtatious insults for Wahlberg. While he's off in England chasing rogue Transformers via submarine and helicopter, he leaves behind a sassy sidekick and a teen runaway who he's just started chilling with in his junkyard hideout.
I could try to summarize the plot, but my brain would likely melt as a result. Stonehenge, an evil Optiums Prime, dinobots and military forces are involved, and they are all looking for a magical staff that is connected to Merlin. Or something.
What happens is more or less entertaining, but way too tiresome and overwrought to maintain its welcome. It seems not to ever end, much like the franchise itself.
How the harmless 1980s cartoon managed to transform into this unwieldy, unstoppable beast is a wonder of the modern age. If only it could go back.