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LAST_UPDATEThu, 20 Jul 2017 10pm

Review: 'Transformers: The Last Knight' Reaches New Levels Of Badness

Mark Wahlberg returns as good guy Cade Yeager in 'Transformers: The Last Knight.' (Photo: Paramount Pictures)Mark Wahlberg returns as good guy Cade Yeager in 'Transformers: The Last Knight.' (Photo: Paramount Pictures)If Optimus Prime, Autobot leader and all-around mensch, really wanted to save humanity, he would have stopped director Michael Bay around four Transformers movies ago.

The quality took a precipitous drop after the strong first live-action film in 2007, and while it’s not as mind-numbingly offensive as the Revenge of the Fallen sequel, the new fifth installment Transformers: The Last Knight (* out of four; rated PG-13; in theaters nationwide now) is an exhausting marathon of complete nonsense. Even if you love alien robots punching each other while tossing out insipid one-liners, it’s a painfully long two and a half hours where the biggest problem isn’t a lack of plot but way too many of them.

In terms of manly manhood, Mark Wahlberg continues to be a cut above original star Shia LaBeouf. A hero of the last film Age of Extinction, Wahlberg’s inventor Cade Yeager is running a junkyard and harboring Autobot fugitives like his bud Bumblebee (who still communicates via random old movie lines) and cigar-chomping Hound (voiced by John Goodman) when the world deems Transformers illegal after all the wanton damage their battles cause. The government, however, has no qualms about partnering with evil Decepticon leader Megatron (Frank Welker), though he’s tried to take over the globe multiple times.

But Decepticons aren’t even one of Cade’s top five issues. After his allies — including feisty Izabella (Isabella Moner) and comic relief Jimmy (Jerrod Carmichael) — are attacked by Megatron's minions, Cade is inexplicably whisked away to England to partner with haughty history professor Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) and oddball lord Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins). In rambling fashion, Edmund gives the rundown on how Transformers have been a part of history since the Dark Ages and now their home of Cybertron is a few days out from smacking Earth Armageddon-style.

Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) and his buddy Hot Rod in 'Transformers: The Last Knight.' (Photo: Paramount Pictures)Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) and his buddy Hot Rod in 'Transformers: The Last Knight.' (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

Also not helping: Optimus (Peter Cullen) has been turned into the super-bad Nemesis Prime, and Cade’s crew has to find an ancient magical staff, save the world and give Optimus a hug.

Grounding Transformers lore within the annals of civilization — i.e., Bumblebee fighting the good fight in Nazi Germany — is at least one good idea explored amid a dizzying amount of awful. For every intriguing theme, there are about 20 ludicrous concepts.

But Last Knight is a filled bingo card of badness. Characters disappear for half the movie, then return when narratively necessary. A trip back to the time of King Arthur — who, fun fact, had a three-headed Transformer dragon — is ruined with a drunken Merlin (Stanley Tucci). The mighty Dinobot Grimlock is relegated to being the family dog. In one scene, Cade calls Vivian’s tight outfit a “stripper dress,” a misogynistic comment that’s oddly uncalled for and decidedly out of character.

The final act is a non-stop, special-effects bludgeoning of the senses that is zero fun. And the movie introduces the most annoying Transformer ever, Sir Edmund’s robot bodyguard Cogman (voiced by Jim Carter, aka Downton Abbey’s lovably crusty Carson).

Worst of all? That Last Knight title is a misnomer: Bay has warned that this is his franchise finale, Wahlberg is tapping out, but the climax clearly sets up a sixth Transformers.

Thanks for nothing, Prime.

-USA Today