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Review: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023)

Transformers: Rise of Beasts (2023)

Directed by: Steven Caple Jr.

Premise: Set in 1994, Earth is threatened by Unicron, a giant mechanical being that eats planets. A military veteran and an archeologist (Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback) team with the Autoboots to stop Unicron’s warriors from possessing an artifact that will open a wormhole.

What Works: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is set between the events of Bumblebee and the 2007 film. After the excesses of the Michael Bay directed Transformers movies, Bumblebee was a very different kind of film, reminiscent of the family oriented sci-fi movies of the 1980s such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Short Circuit. Rise of the Beasts is a compromise between the modest style of Bumblebee and the opulence of Bay’s Transformers movies. The result is the best entry in this series. The action scenes are busy but not overwhelming or overlong and they maintain visual coherence. Rise of the Beasts foregrounds the human beings, played by Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback, giving each of them adequate characterization and involving them in the action in ways that are relevant to their backgrounds. The robot characters also get some characterization, in particular Mirage (voice of Pete Davidson). The humans work with the Autobots in a way that gives the action some dramatic meaning. Ramos and Fishback’s characters gradually come to trust the Autobots and Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen) has to accept that Earth is now his permanent home. The seventh film in the series, Rise of the Beasts allows itself to be a little self-referential but not in an obnoxious way. There is a particular moment that comes across as a nod to the accusations of racism made against Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

What Doesn’t: As the seventh film in the Transformers series, it’s incumbent on the filmmakers to do something new but Rise of the Beasts can’t help but feel redundant. There’s not a whole lot here that we haven’t already seen in the previous movies. Once again the Autobots defend their adopted planet from a cataclysmic invasion and just like several other Transformers movies and a few comic book films, the conflict of Rise of the Beasts revolves around a McGuffin and the film climaxes with the villains shooting a giant beam of energy into the sky. The filmmakers borrow from other movies as well including one set piece that is right out of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. While Rise of the Beasts does this pretty well and better than any of the other Transformers movies, it’s also the same old robot-wrestling action.

Bottom Line: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a belatedly good entry this series. It’s still a standard Transformers adventure and an awful lot of this is familiar but Rise of the Beasts is a satisfactory movie in a series that often been terrible. 

Episode: #954 (June 25, 2023)