Michael Bay is a man who likes spectacle. He loves his effects, he loves his big character moments, and he loves his robots. If you’ve seen any of the TRANSFORMERS movies, you’ll know what to expect with THE LAST KNIGHT. Despite the promise of a “reboot” when AGE OF EXTINCTION was released (the predecessor to KNIGHT), the franchise has more or less continued on the same path as the original trilogy. The movies are big, bombastic and unapologetic.

LAST KNIGHT is the fifth instalment in the saga. Optimus Prime has journeyed back to Cybertron, in a search for his maker. Meanwhile, Megatron is gone. Transformers are declared illegal across the Earth, save for (somewhat bizarrely) Cuba. And yet they keep coming: dropping across the planet, without explanation. In truth, the Autobots and Decepticons have been waging a secret war on Earth in antiquity – and the arrival of an ancient transformer in the alien-prohibition zone is a flashpoint to the ongoing conflict…

So is LAST KNIGHT any good? It’s a strange creature. I’ve rarely sat through a film with so many action sequences, which was simultaneously so unexciting. The plot is basically very lineal – with which I have no problem: done well, many SF and fantasy franchises succeed with a similar formula – but the film’s length, unrelenting pace and lack of real character engagement just leaves you feeling numb.

I can still remember when the original TRANSFORMERS was released. It was geek fanboy candy: an echo of my childhood years, but with shiny new effects and a pulse-pounding plot. LAST KNIGHT has those same qualities, but it’s literally the same old thing. Mark Wahlberg (an actor that I rate very highly) is the nominal hero, but he’s wasted in the role. How or why Sir Anthony Hopkins agreed to participate in the project is pretty much beyond me…

What’s really sad about the TRANFORMERS films is that there are so many interesting stories to tell here. Is it really that hard to find them? AGE OF EXTINCTION teased some – who created the Transformers? Why were they created? What’s their place in the universe? LAST KNIGHT sidesteps all of those questions. This is a franchise that exists in numerous formats – video games, comics, and books. There’s so much material to harvest here. And yet, as ever, Hollywood tales the safe path, and LAST KNIGHT is the result. Overall, I can’t recommend LAST KNIGHT.