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Transformers: The Last Knight

Today’s tough male movie moguls used to be young boys too. Given how many superhero and toy-based movies there now are, they appear to be living out their childhoods. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the ‘Transformers’ movies. Based on the popular 1980’s toy-line where cars turn into indestructible robots, the franchise has spawned 5 live-action films. ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ continues the series’ cinematic excursions. Just as silly and thinly plotted, it conjures a colourful spectacle sure to have its male viewers reminiscing about their misbegotten youths.

Years after their appearance on earth, the war between the virtuous Autobots and evil Decepticons continues. Only a few humans are brave enough to join the battle with Cade (Mark Wahlberg) one of them. Forming an alliance with one of the Autobots, he also enlists the help of Sir Edmund (Anthony Hopkins) and university professor Viviane (Laura Haddock). Together they aim to unlock the secrets to why the Transformers continue inhabiting earth. The answer becomes crucial with Earth’s fate hanging in the balance as the robot’s destructive ways take their toll.

‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ delivers exactly what one expects. A more over the top and high-voltage spectacle would be hard to overtake than this one. The action is dazzling, the CGI is fantastic and the colourful cinematography superbly catches the overall comic-book tone it requires. It’s also a terrible movie with a poorly structured screenplay and wooden performances. Michael Bay directs with the subtlety of a sledgehammer although the ‘Transformers’ movies were never known for being high-art.

Wahlberg and the cast go through the motions without much passionate energy. That’s difficult to do when all they do is react to events than initiating them. As a continuation of the series’ mythology, ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ develops few new angles. The franchise feels a little tired at its fifth outing with the pedestrian plotting hard to hide amidst the incredible action sequences.

There’s not much more you can say about ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ as it’s the same as the others. Brains won’t be hurt watching it although it’s surprising how totally forgettable it is. The obligatory ‘setting things up for a sequel’ scenes are there although even the enthusiasm of those young at heart movie moguls may not be enough to see audiences demand a return visit.

Rating out of 10: 5

Alien Covenant

Since 1979, the ‘Alien’ series have scared audiences. The tale of a crew’s fight against a seemingly unstoppable alien captured and spooked the imagination. It made stars out of Sigourney Weaver and director Ridley Scott. Returning to science fiction with the Alien prequel ‘Prometheus’, Scott unwrapped a new chapter in the saga. ‘Alien Covenant’ is the 6th film in the series with his abilities in telling an effective story still evident. His latest should raise a shackle or two with space still a place where no one can hear you scream.

The colony ship Covenant is looking for a habitable planet. Among the crew are android Walter (Michael Fassbender), Jacob (James Franco) and Daniels (Katherine Waterston). Attempting to form a cohesive team, their personal issues are put aside for the mission. When discovering a planet looking like nirvana, they think they have succeeded. They quickly discover they have walked into peril. As an army of evil creatures begin hunting them, the crew do everything to survive a potential alien onslaught.

‘Alien Covenant’ is an intense ride echoing the original ‘Alien’. Its plot is almost an exact copy going for a simpler narrative than ‘Prometheus’ muddled one. Whilst fans may deride the increased focus on action than drama, ‘Alien Covenant’ works due to Scott’s lean story-telling style. There’s an engrossing tale to discover even if it doesn’t have much personal depth. It’s as emotionally distant as many of Scott’s movies as his talent for atmosphere and action rarely fails to transfer to crafting engaging characters. He puts them through interesting situations with ‘Alien Covenant’ providing new wrinkles on classic deadly scenarios.

The biggest asset of ‘Alien Covenant’ is the CGI which is amazing. You genuinely feel you are on the otherworldly plains along with the Covenant crew. The attention to detail is staggering and the action set pieces are expertly realised. The performers bring stoic conviction to their roles despite none of them truly standing out. Most seem fodder for the expected deaths although how they die conjures morbid fascination. It’s tough being original in a 6th film in a franchise but to its credit ‘Alien Covenant’ brings new ideas to the table.

A reasonably scary alien space yarn ‘Alien Covenant’ does what it promises. It has a bit of everything to satisfy most tastes in spite of not having much happening underneath its action smothered veneer. Scott has promised at least three more entries in the series proving an alien’s menace is no match for the lure of further box office dollars.

Rating out of 10: 7