Rise Of The Beasts Review: Transformers Franchise In Upswing

Consider me as surprised as everyone that, after the unremarkable-at-best Age of Extinction and The Last Knight, I’m actually looking forward to more Transformers movies in this Transformers: Rise of the Beasts review. The one-two punch of Bumblebee and Rise of the Beasts is a course correction that brings together cherished Transformer tribes, introduces respectable human characters, and emphasizes metal-crunching action that is an improvement above the uninteresting animated slop we’ve been given in Michael Bay’s recent films.

Director Steven Caple Jr. executes Rise of the Beasts as a summer crowd-pleaser that makes me feel like a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons again, only on a bigger and more exciting scale. It won’t win over the Academy (outside of a potential special effects nomination), but it gets the job done in this Transformers: Rise of the Beasts review.

First Impressions

Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts Review

Longtime fans will probably revel in the childhood nostalgia of seeing these beloved characters come to life once again. Besides the Autobots—led as always by Optimus Prime and voiced by Peter Cullen with his signature gravitas—Rise of the Beasts also features Maximals from the Transformers: Beast Wars TV series and various intergalactic villains doing the bidding of the planet-gobbling Unicron (Colman Domingo). They’re all in pursuit of the same ancient, McGuffiny doohickey which is super powerful and can cause massive damage.

One may argue that a movie shouldn’t be trusted with heavy machinery if it needs this much dreary explanation to establish its plot points. But the goal of the silliest and noisiest of all the billion-dollar film franchises, the metal-for-brains Transformers collection, has always been to smash stuff up.

And the most recent installment does not disappoint when it comes to pointless devastation and supreme idiocy. A punchy 90s hip-hop music, as well as Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback, who bravely hold their own as the helpless humans caught up in the Transformers’ chaotic mayhem, are positives.

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Plot Strengths

Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts Review

The blink-and-you-miss-it plot involves a rare cosmic thingamajig called a trans-warp key that the planet-devouring Unicron and its Decepticon-like villains led by Scourge (Peter Dinklage) are in desperate need of to dominate the universe. Its value is quickly explained to be a futuristic device that opens portals to Energon-rich planets around the galaxy and acts as the Autobots’ way home in this Transformers: Rise of the Beasts review. 

Although the animal-themed Maximals aren’t the first non-Autobot or Decepticon faction to arrive in these Transformers flicks (I’d previously forgotten about the Dinobots in Age of Extinction), they undoubtedly make an impactful entry. The barrel-chested imposition of the character, played by Ron Perlman as the lowland gorilla bot Optimus Primal, is met by Michelle Yeoh’s soothing performance as the majestic and wise peregrine falcon bot Airazor.

Beyond the visual contrasts of Maximal robotics covered in fur and feathers against Autobot detailing with vibrant Pimp My Ride designs, there is a clear distinction between Optimus Primal’s relationship with nature and the people of Earth and the untrusting and more militant Optimus Prime in this Transformers: Rise of the Beasts review. 

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A True Surprise

Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts Review

The fact that Rise of the Beasts shows a surprising amount of concern for the people who are imprisoned in the middle of this titanic conflict between good and evil, however, makes it bearable for everyone else.

That is unusual for this series, which is more well-known for the flat characters and groan-inducing banter of the Michael Bay films. Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback, who are likable, have the chance to develop characters that we might even care about thanks to the screenplay, which is credited to five individuals.

The fun begins right away thanks to some ingenious inversions. After stealing Mirage, Noah is startled to discover that the vehicle has also taken him. Through clothing and IDs they have stolen, people also engage in some shape-shifting. Additionally, Noah suffers from comical agony every time he tries to explain how he is collaborating with alien cars to avert Armageddon in this Transformers: Rise of the Beasts review. Then the hurried go here, grab the gadget story mechanics drive our focus off course.

Character Highlights

Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts Review

Mirage is a Transformer that viewers might not be familiar with because he is only a careless college student disguised as an expensive-looking alien. A narrative that continues striving to explain its existence rather than enjoying the ride can be made into a few chuckles by Mirage through frequent improvisation and never taking the story seriously. The lighthearted humor and surprise comments were the perfect counterbalances to Prime’s usual seriousness and autocratic leadership.

Although it starts shortly after Bumblebee and before the events of the original Transformers, this isn’t quite a sequel. Therefore, it functions as both a prologue and a reboot. Whatever it is, it occurs in a seedy New York City before Giuliani, where Noah Diaz, played by Ramos, is a former military electronics expert looking for a job to support his family. This also applies to his adorably beautiful younger brother Kris (Dean Scott Vazquez), who has a persistent sickness.

At the same time, Elena from Fishback is battling to establish herself as an antiquities expert who is wise beyond her years at a museum on Ellis Island. Both of these young people of color are routinely undervalued and ostracized by the dominantly white leadership, providing an edge of social commentary unfamiliar to this franchise in this Transformers: Rise of the Beasts review. 


Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts Review

However, not everything can be commemorated with the same fervor. As supporters of the Transformers, Diaz and Dominique Fishback (as the intelligent museum artifact researcher Elena Wallace) give believable performances, but their characters still seem like cogs in the system. As the new Charlie and Bumblebee team, Diaz and Davidson trade amusing lines of bromance, but the Transformers are more entertaining by themselves than with their corporeal tour guides.

When the setting shifts from New York City to Peru, Noah’s relationship with his ailing brother Kris (Dean Scott Vazquez) gives Diaz more to think about in his role as a sibling who struggles to teach his little brother how to overcome adversity in this Transformers: Rise of the Beasts review. 

The Autobots team up with the last remaining Maximals, including Optimus Primal, Rhinox, Cheetor, and the gorgeously rendered avian Airazor, to defeat the Terrorcons and thwart Unicron’s plans to rule over space and time with the transwarp key after Elena deciphers every potential clue regarding keys, codes, bridges, and portals on her own in an uncanny feat of unconvincing mental acrobatics.

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Final Thoughts

Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts Review

The release of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts demonstrates that Bumblebee wasn’t an anomaly and that the Transformers series is now moving forward. Even if it never achieves the epic sweep it seeks and the human side of the tale can’t keep up with the robots, Steven Caple Jr. manages to strike a good mix between paint-by-numbers interplanetary apocalypse storyline and entertainment-first Transformers action.

Thanks to controlling Michael Bay’s style of sensationalist pandemonium, the emphasis is always on a story with heart and heroes. Although on a greater scale than Bumblebee, Rise of the Beasts stays true to the core elements of the Transformers franchise. It reminds me of spending a weekend playing with Autobot and Maximals action figures in the garden while getting lost in a silly adventure that might not save the galaxy but is still a good enough reason to see robots transform into vehicles and engage in combat in this Transformers: Rise of the Beasts review.

However, Rise of the Beasts concludes with a seemingly never-ending action scene in which large, shining chunks of metal crash against one another, as every Transformers film must. The smaller, more personal special effects, like Mirage evolving in a variety of unique ways that appear tactile and genuine, are more amazing than these large-scale set pieces. However, despite not being as disorienting and protracted as they frequently are, this finale is still very compelling in comparison to the action that occurred before it.