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Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Transformers Rise of the Beasts
Doesn’t hit the lows as the latter Michael Bay films, but this seventh Transformers film feels like it’s going through the motions.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Release Date: June 9, 2023
Runtime: 02:07
Synopsis:
During the ’90s, a new faction of Transformers – the Maximals – join the Autobots as allies in the battle for Earth.

Table of Contents

The Autobots join forces with the Maximals to save the planet Earth in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. In 1994 Brooklyn, Noah Diaz () resorts to carjacking to support his family, but the car he ends up breaking into turns out to be the Autobot Mirage (), who is called into action by Optimus Prime (). Prime has detected a signal from the long-missing Transwarp Key, which has the power to transport himself and the other Autobots, Bumblebee and Arcee (Liza Koshy), back to Cybertron. The key was accidentally activated by museum intern Elena Wallace (), which also attracts the attention of the Terrorcons, led by Scourge (), who wants to use the key to call his planet-devouring master Unicron () to devour Earth.

During a battle with the Terrorcons, Optimus and the Autobots are saved by the Maximal Airazor (), who tells them that only half the key has been found. The other half is in Peru, under the protection of the remaining Maximals, led by Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman). Noah and Elena join the Autobots on their quest to retrieve the Transwarp Key and prevent the Terrorcons from bringing Unicron to Earth.

Synopsis

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is the seventh entry in the Transformers film franchise, directed by Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II). The film takes place in the partially rebooted continuity that began with the 2018 standalone spin-off Bumblebee, with this entry taking place seven years after that film, in the year 1984. Anthony Ramos (Hamilton, In the Heights) stars as the film's human protagonist Noah Diaz, who lives in Brooklyn with his mother Breanna () and little brother Kris (), the latter of whom needs medical attention the family can't afford. Noah ends up befriending the Autobot Mirage and he is recruited to help with recovering the Transwarp Key. This results in Noah crossing paths with Elena Wallace, played by Dominique Fishback (Judas and the Black Messiah), and together they find themselves caught in the middle of the battle between the Autobots and Maximals against the Terrorcons.

My Thoughts on Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Probably the biggest selling point of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is that the film marked the live-action debut of the Maximals from the 1990s Transformers toy line/cartoon Beast Wars (called Beasties in Canada). It's also notable that Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is arguably the first film in the 16-year-old franchise to focus predominantly on the Robots in Disguise, with Noah and Elena being the only human characters present throughout the entire film. By my count, the film features 14 Transformers, making up the combined forces of the Autobots, Maximals, and Terrorcons.

While previous films in the franchise used Bumblebee as the main human-interacting Transformers, that role goes to the Autobot Mirage in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. Voiced by Pete Davidson, Mirage is a wisecracking Autobot, who is simultaneously the best and worst character in the film. Davidson is joined in the voice-cast by Ron Pearlman as Maximal leader Optimus Primal, Michelle Yeoh as the Maximal second-in-command Airazor, and Peter Dinklage as the main antagonist Scourge. Then of course, there is the now 81-year-old Peter Cullen, who is approaching his fifth decade of voicing the Autobot leader Optimus Prime.

While I was one of the few who didn't mind the early films of the Michael Bay-directed Transformers films, I did begin tiring of the franchise by 2017's Transformers: The Last Knight. Hence, I ended up being pleasantly surprised when 2018's Bumblebee turned out to be a refresh for the franchise. Sadly, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts doesn't really follow up on that momentum. While it doesn't hit the lows of the latter Michael Bay films, this new entry ends up being a very lukewarm follow-up, which more than ever feels like a commercial to sell toys, including the hint towards a future crossover with another certain Hasbro property. Even the film's use of Unicron, would probably only serve to make people nostalgic for the superior depiction of the character (voiced by Orson Welles) in 1986's animated Transformers: The Movie.

While Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is not the worst entry in the franchise, it does make it feel obvious that these films are now just going through the motions.

Trailer for Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.