'Transformers: The Last Knight' Buckles Under the Weight of a Clunky Plot and Excessive Special Effects

Predictably enough, Transformers: The Last Knight, perhaps the most bloated film to hit screens this summer, commences with an action sequence.

The mind numbingly long film that clocks in at 149 minutes suffers from a clunky plot and ridiculous special effects sequences that feature elongated fight scenes between Transformers and humans and Transformers and Transformers.

The movie screens tonight at select theaters and then opens wide tomorrow.

The film begins in England in the Dark Ages. The Brits and Saxons are locked in a heated battle. Hopeful that the magician Merlin will cast the spell he says he’s capable of casting, the Brits hang on despite the casualties. Wandering the countryside while drinking from a flask, Merlin asks for aid from a Transformer who proceeds to hand him a staff that allows him to control a dragon that does indeed change the war’s outcome as the mighty creature wipes out the evil Saxons.

The opening sequence (unintentionally, we’re sure) resembles a Monty Python skit as Merlin stumbles around in a half-drunk daze, and the British soldiers make proclamations about the importance of self-sacrifice. You half expect one of the maimed soldiers to start screaming, “But I’m not dead yet.”

Flash-forward to the present day, and the U.S. government has had a falling out with the Transformers. As a result, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) — it’s not giving away too much of the story to reveal that he’s the “last knight” in the title — has his hands full trying to keep his Autobot friends safe in his junkyard.

When astronomer Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) realizes the apocalypse is imminent, he sends his robot butler Cogman (Jim Carter) to fetch Cade, and the aging Transformer historian then introduces him to the pouty lipped Viviane Wembly (Laura Haddock), an Oxford professor who’s devoted her life to debunking English myths.

Turns out, she'll have a key role in helping Cade and his Autobots defend the earth from a potentially devastating attack. Romance blossoms as the two set out to save the planet. And it should be mentioned that they must do so without the help of Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), who, thanks to a nasty bit of trickery, has become "Nemesis" Prime. And as if the odds weren't already stacked against them enough, they must also battle the evil Megatron, the Decepticons leader who wants to wipe out the planet. Whew! What a mess.

A number of subplots go nowhere (we still don’t quite get why John Turturro needed to reprise his role as Seymour Simmons, a government official sequestered in Havana) and the whole King Arthur connection reaches the point of incredulity when the Transformers converge on Stonehenge.

The action comes fast and furious in the film but once you've seen one Transformers fight sequence, you've seen em all. Despite the fact that the graphics are razor sharp (Bay and his crew shot most of the movie in IMAX), the movie just amounts to one big noisy piece of junk.