Growing up as an 80s kid there was nothing, I loved more than Transformers. The live-action Michael Bay films have steadily declined in appeal with each over-bearing sequel. Then came the refreshing Bumblebee from 2018, something that felt like a cross between the cinematic Bayhem and the original animated series. That was what I hoped to see more of with Transformers: Rise of the Beasts but sadly the result was a mixed bag. With doses of enjoyable robot carnage, paired mundane and formulaic storytelling. There were things to have fun with during this movie but more frequently were repetitive story beats, cardboard characters, and beams of light into the skies, that undercut much of the fun and nearly all the intrigue.
For some reason Rise of the Beats feels at home simply retreading the past Transformer films and just glossing over this template with a 90s setting, and the addition of Maximals led by what is essentially a robot Kong. This does give the movie a fresh vibe on the surface. But is this enough? Once the story gets going it’s not long before the similarities in the progression begin to show. Now when the action is in full gear this movie is admittedly a blast. The 90s soundtrack injects instant energy and the variety of all the action set-pieces does feel fresh. The effects are also very well done and unlike some of the more recent Bay films where the transforming is too close-up and just looks jumbled, here the camera sits back a bit. You can see the moving mechanisms and the creative transforming, and I appreciated that.
So, with top-tier visual appeal in the effects department the battle sequences and large-scale action are admittedly superior in Rise of the Beasts. This is where Caple Jr’s direction really shines. However, like the other films in the franchise this one is reliant on human characters to move the narrative and for the most part they are likable characters. Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback bring more than enough effort to their performances. Both make the most of the writing to create characters you can connect to in order to take the ride of this movie. Still, neither are able to make the material unique thus, when all is said and done, regardless of their performances, there is nothing really unique or memorable about them.
This would be my main issue with this Rise of the Beasts. The writing of the characters, and the story and the surprising lack of creative ambition. The story blatantly explains each nuance of its progression to you like you haven’t seen this plot before. The writing is also so on the nose, with no sentence feeling longer than six words, and none of the emotional notes feeling authentic, that this script feels like it was written by AI. That could be on the harsh side because there are a few effective jokes, and Pete Davidson’s Mirage is more than capable comedic relief. But the storyline as a whole, its subplots and overall progression is far too much of a by-the-numbers affair.
So unfortunately, Transformers: Rise of the Beats despite its enjoyable action and sturdy performances is still a movie that feels stale on delivery. This movie is also coming out with a ton of competition at the box-office with Across the Spider-Verse just released and The Flash already coming next week that will undoubtedly suck all the money out of the box-office. I’m just not sure if there’s a place for this film right now and even diehard fans of the franchise will find this movie lacking a lot of appeal. There’s little nostalgia, or fan service, and as shocking as it sounds the Michael Bay eccentricities sort of feel missed. Making it worthy of a watch, just when it hits Paramount+ which will presumably be sooner than later.
Cast: Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Dean Scott Vazquez, Luna Lauren Velez Voice Cast: Peter Cullen, Ron Perlman, Pete Davidson, Michelle Yeoh, Peter Dinklage, Coleman Domingo, Liza Koshy Director: Steven Caple Jr. Writers: Joby Harold, Darnell Metayer, Josh Peters, Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber Distributor: Paramount Pictures Running Time: 127 minutes Rating: PG-13 (For intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, mild language) Year: 2023 Language: English Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2023 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.
OPTIMUS PRIME in PARAMOUNT PICTURES and SKYDANCE Present In Association with HASBRO and NEW REPUBLIC PICTURES A di BONAVENTURA PICTURES Production A TOM DESANTO / DON MURPHY Production A BAY FILMS Production “TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS”