Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Things To Do

Somehow, 'Transformers: The Last Knight' isn't as painful as others

Lord Megatron help me, Michael Bay has finally pummeled this viewer into submission.

That's the only way to explain the feeling that Transformers: The Last Knight isn't nearly as painful to sit through as Bay's four previous exploding toy boxes. All that destruction, from Soldier Field to Shia LeBeouf's career. Nearly 10 hours of cacophonous action wrapped around insipid dialogue over the past decade has broken me, hands lowered in masochistic surrender. Just take the beating. It'll be over soon, although with Transformers' brand of Bay-hem never soon enough.

Perhaps The Last Knight just looks better by comparison, not only to Transformers before but a flop from May with some coincidental plotting. This movie employs the King Arthur routine better than Guy Ritchie's Legend of the Sword, tossing in Stanley Tucci as Merlin for good (well, better) measure.

Yes, that's where the winding, must-be-made-up-on-the-fly Transformers myth has landed, in the Dark Ages where Sir Lancelot's forces need a three-headed fire breathing flying dragon to defend Camelot. Merlin knows a Transformer who can do the trick, setting up a medieval battle royale that's a fresh look for the series, a different reason for fireballs and wire stunts. So far, so tolerable.

Merlin takes an enchanted wooden staff to his grave, warning that the evil will seek it and only his descendant can wield it. Cut to 1,600 years later when ripped inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is defending the honor of Autobots who have been technologically profiled as bad robots, lumped in with those nasty Decepticons. During one obligatory skirmish Cade is handed a medallion that will lead him all the way to Stonehenge and his destiny as the last knight Merlin foretold, defending Earth against the ultimate Decepticon.

The job would be easier if Autobot messiah Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen, body by Hasbro) hadn't turned to the dark side. Getting him back to normal figures into the plot, along with the appearance of artifacts around the globe that will materialize into mankind's biggest threat ever.

"I don't do this s--- for money!" Cade yells at a tense moment. "It's for a higher cause!" Funniest line in the movie, coming from Wahlberg's mouth in these circumstances.

Cade's former ally Col. William Lennox (Josh Duhamel) now leads the TRF, a military agency hunting Transformers. He's replaced at Cade's side by a scrappy girl named Izabella (Isabela Moner) who's a whiz at fixing robots. Of course since this is Bay's joint there's a hotter-than-logical Oxford professor (Laura Haddock) tagging along as window dressing until she improbably figures into the myth.

But millions of people won't buy tickets to watch the humans. Bay's action seems a bit more decipherable this time around but that could be part of my submission. The Last Knight brings back the popular sidekick Bumble Bee of course, adding a Big Lebowski reunion of sorts with John Goodman and Steve Buscemi voicing Transformers. Goodman's cigar-chomping Hound resembles his Raising Arizona ruffian, to boot. It's the little pleasures in mediocre movies that mean a lot.

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-9365. Follow @StevePersall.

Comments
Jobsite Theater wants to challenge audiences with an adaptation of ‘1984’

Jobsite Theater wants to challenge audiences with an adaptation of ‘1984’

TAMPANow is as good a time as any, since there is no great time to take a deep dark look into the apocalypse of humanity.But history rewards those brave enough to try, from Nostradamus to George Orwell, who are looking more and more like the same bre...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBaseballTwins at Yankees1 p.m.MLBRays at Orioles7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMBrewers at Cubs8 p.m.MLBCollege baseballAuburn at Florida7 p.m.ESPNULSU at Mississippi 8 p.m.SECCollege lacrosse, womenACC tournament: Louisville vs. Boston College11 a.m.FSFAC...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Plan your weekend April 27-29: Jeff Dunham, Flo Rida at Busch Gardens, Sunscreen Film Fest, dragon boat races, Green Thumb Fest

Plan your weekend April 27-29: Jeff Dunham, Flo Rida at Busch Gardens, Sunscreen Film Fest, dragon boat races, Green Thumb Fest

Plan your weekendAthletes St. Anthony’s Triathlon: Elite professional athletes and Olympians from around the world will be at this St. Petersburg race this weekend, one of the premier triathlon events in the country. There’s a big incentive, with ca...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Yelp search results reflected racist stereotype that Asian American restaurants serve cat and dog

Yelp search results reflected racist stereotype that Asian American restaurants serve cat and dog

A strange thing happened when typing "dog menu" into the restaurant ratings website and app Yelp. It automatically generated suggested searches. There were dog massage, hot dogs, pet groomers. Also: "dog meat." But it got more disturbing. Take Yelp...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for April 26

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for April 26

American Stage in the Park: The Producers: Mel Brooks’ classic cult comedy sees a down-and-out producer and his accountant scheme to produce the most notorious flop in theater history. Through May 13. 8 p.m., Demens Landing, 100 First Ave. SE, St. Pe...
Updated: 11 hours ago
‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is stunningly dark, but it’s still wildly entertaining

‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is stunningly dark, but it’s still wildly entertaining

What does Thanos want?That question lies at the heart of Avengers: Infinity War, the at-once dark, maddeningly open-ended yet fiercely entertaining new chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), which pits the titular global do-gooders — still s...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Performances, songwriting get ‘Waitress’ from serviceable to filling — plus, there’s actually pie

Performances, songwriting get ‘Waitress’ from serviceable to filling — plus, there’s actually pie

TAMPA — A lonely and changeable sky illuminates the top of the stage through most of Waitress, running this week at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. The neon lettering of Joe’s Diner reflects days and nights that don’t differ en...
Published: 04/25/18
Top things to do this week in Tampa Bay: Jeff Dunham, Victor Wooten and Sinbad perform jazz

Top things to do this week in Tampa Bay: Jeff Dunham, Victor Wooten and Sinbad perform jazz

PUPPET MASTER: Jeff DunhamCelebrated ventriloquist Jeff Dunham is no dummy. The record-breaking comedy superstar sells out arenas around the world, bringing along his ill-behaved puppets including grouchy Walter, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, redneck Bu...
Published: 04/25/18
Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opens first Tampa restaurant, Nebraska Mini-Mart grab-and-go coming soon

Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opens first Tampa restaurant, Nebraska Mini-Mart grab-and-go coming soon

NOW OPEN: TEX-MEX CHAIN CHUY’SThe Austin, Texas-based Tex-Mex chain Chuy’s opened its first Tampa restaurant on Tuesday, giving away free Chuy’s for two for a year to the first 50 customers. I know, we missed it, it’s a bummer, but we can still visit...
Published: 04/25/18
We tried the new restaurants at Tampa International Airport, and we're full

We tried the new restaurants at Tampa International Airport, and we're full

When Tampa International Airport debuted in 1971, each terminal had a newsstand and a snack bar, called something kicky like Snack Bar.
Published: 04/25/18