Here we go again! It’s been ten years since no-holds-barred director Michael Bay adapted his first big screen live action version of the retro cartoon series. Originally derived from a popular Hasbro action figure collection, cue screeching metallic battles and huge explosions in all its over the top Hollywood blockbuster glory.
Intentionally focused on spectacular action, this is part five of the absurd, gregarious, bombastic franchise continuing to defy harsh critical commentary to be a global box office draw for science-fiction escapism. From Stonehenge to Cuba to 10 Downing Street London to intergalactic space to an underwater Atlantis like lost city, the viewer is taken on an extraordinary journey. Somehow maestro of destruction director Michael Bay also links in traditions of King Arthur and his round table.
Existence of Earth yet again depends on the giant mechanical freedom fighters which proves to be a greater challenge this time around for supreme leader Optimus Prime having to locate a hidden buried artifact determining machine and mankind’s survival. Robot whisperer Mark Wahlberg returns as Cade Yeagar reluctantly coming back for more, his stint protecting his Autobot friends alongside the brawling Decepticon enemy in the previous installment.
Commanding more experience and an open mind conversing somewhat intelligent conversation to walking chunks of movable metal, Cade trusts few but understands the stakes are higher when approached by mysterious statesman Edmund Burton (Sir Anthony Hopkins) delivering a message from another place, another time.
Partially different in outlook with the time-frame set in the near future, there is a dystopian feel in some areas. Partnering up establishes resistance to annihilation and an excuse, as if the filmmakers needed one, for illogical wide destruction. Robotic aliens violently clash in over-complicated circumstances effectively displaying state of the art special effects including an array of constant ultra piercing electromagnetic booming sounds to rival a sitting under a NASA launch.
Continuing from an impressive role in recent fantasy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, naturally dexterous Gemma Chan as Quintessa, is one of the few human actors with certain aptitude to plot development. Mostly, the rest of the established cast including Oscar winning Sir Anthony, seem to be having fun running for their lives dodging falling debris while delivering a series of questionable one-liners.
No stranger to big and given the budget to do it, filmed with the cinematic experience in mind, there is no doubt mayhem maestro Bay’s objective is to fill every screen space with entertaining critic proof excess.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Gemma Chan, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel, Stanley Tucci, Laura Haddock (Rated M – 148 min).
Shane A. Bassett