"Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a solid franchise entry that will certainly have fans of the source material impressed with its roster of characters."
BY JACK RANSOM JUNE 7, 2023
The 7th entry in the now 15+ year live action Transformers franchise. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts sees Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and the Autobots take on their biggest challenge yet. When a new threat capable of destroying the entire planet emerges, they must team up with a powerful faction of Transformers known as the Maximals to save Earth.
I rewatched the first Transformers back at the start of the year and over the past week or so I have revisited Revenge of the Fallen through to Bumblebee in preparation for this newest entry. After Bumblebee scaled down the scope dramatically and ditched Bay’s huge earth shattering scale and oftentimes immature and icky humour. Rise of the Beasts certainly leans towards the former in terms of tone, but delivers a suitably chaotic and satisfying bombastic CGI heavy finale.
It’s just a shame that overall the film leaves little impact outside of being disposable fun, as the first act is genuinely great, it does a superb job of establishing Noah’s (Anthony Ramos) desperate family driven situation and having him find himself wrapped up with those robots in disguise. From here the film hits a consistently generic and largely familiar MacGuffin hunt midsection that goes through the motions until the entertaining robo-punch up finale charges to the finish line.
There is some incredibly obvious moments where it’s clear that the Transformers are just on a screen behind the actors (especially when they frequently stand around together). However at its best we get phenomenal designs like Unicron. The combining of retro and modernistic bot designs are well crafted and they look great in motion. The finale action set piece is pure fun ‘turn your brain off’ crash and smash (even with an eye-rolling cheesy character suit up and once again being set in an empty grey landscape in front of a sky beam)… however it has a banger of a needle drop character intro and slick long takes. There is a frantic, falling down a mountainside set piece that is a rush and a couple of other decent brawls, though the nighttime setting does have you squinting through the heavy chromatic CGI. It’s just a shame that the overall aesthetic and cinematography is quite flat and artificial, say what you will about the Bay flicks, they absolutely radiated with his distinct stylistic choices. Lastly the classic hip-hop soundtrack is extremely welcome.
Anthony Ramos helps make Noah one of (if not) the best lead in these films. His earnest and family driven motives are well conveyed and he has good chemistry with Dominique Fishback, who also has a lot of charisma. The screenplay does unfortunately litter them with cliche dialogue aplenty. An all-star voice cast lead up the Transformers. Peter Dinklage brings menace to Scourge, though his motivations are utterly one-note, Ron Perlman stoically grumbles his way through Optimus Primal, Michelle Yeoh is the wise Airazor, most surprisingly of all Pete Davidson is the highlight as the riotous Mirage and Peter Cullen once again delivers those motivational speeches as Optimus Prime.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a solid franchise entry that will certainly have fans of the source material impressed with its roster of characters. The first act is genuinely superb, the human characters are likeable, there are a smattering of great action moments that brought cheers from my audience. However, its story is ultimately fairly generic, the CGI and green screen work is glaringly obvious and wonky at points and it ticks off many a familiar blockbuster beat. I will say, I certainly wasn't expecting the final scene tease though.