‘Transformers: Rise of the Beasts’ Is A Disappointing Mashup Of Metal And Washed-Up Humor – Review
After the release of Bumblebee in 2018, it was time for a new generation of Transformers to take over the reins of the franchise in order to make younger fans fall in love with the giant robots able to transform into vehicles. Instead, the series falls back into old mistakes, leaving the story in a hopeless place that looks like the studio is desperate to keep a piece of intellectual property alive; in a story so convoluted, Optimus Prime forgets who he’s rooting for halfway through the project. No amount of impressive explosions could save Transformers: Rise of the Beasts from being too ambitious while failing with their execution.
Years after Michael Bay brought the characters to the big screen, a new continuity was introduced with Bumblebee. After several pandemic-related delays, the continuation of that story opens with Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) struggling to find a job. One of the few things the movie does right is establishing the bond between the protagonist and his brother relatively quickly, making sure you know what’s at stake behind the deadly action. Steven Caple Jr.’s blockbuster will take Noah from an unsuccessful job interview right to the middle of the action as a larger conspiracy unfolds.
Unicron is the new threat swearing to take over our world if the Autobots fail to stop him, and honestly, he might not have the wrong idea here. In a very generic fashion, the character is established as this giant machine capable of consuming planets. Still, he looks as dangerous as the angry cloud from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. He very well may be iconic in the cartoon and other related media within the franchise, but Rise of the Beasts makes Unicron look uninspired at times, focused on destroying Earth simply because our planet is standing in his way. There are no personal conditions for his conflict with the Autobots in the first place.
The pacing is the main problem making Rise of the Beasts merely a generic blockbuster that you can enjoy once and never think about again. In the second act, the main characters, including Noah, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback), are forced to travel abroad while looking for valuable artifacts. Instead of focusing on the task, the movie spends a significant amount of its runtime running around, trying to force complex franchise lore into a story that could’ve been simpler. The franchise wasn’t even trying to build its universe or propose unnecessary spin-offs; it authentically recited information that had no purpose other than justifying a plot that was already justified by the talking vehicles only.
Of course, not everything about the latest installment of the Transformers franchise was negative, as Pete Davidson voiced the unlikely hero of the moment. Mirage is a Transformer audiences may not have seen from the franchise before, as he’s just an irresponsible college kid in the shape of a very expensive looking alien. Through constant improvisation and never taking the story seriously, Mirage can obtain a few laughs out of a plot that keeps trying to justify its existence instead of enjoying the ride. The laid-back humour and unexpected quips worked brilliantly against Prime’s characteristic seriousness and authoritarian leadership.
Just when you think Rise of the Beasts couldn’t be worse the movie ends with with G.I. Joe connection before the credits hit, teasing a crossover for the ages. Paramount could’ve started with that in the first place instead of promising an exciting concept for a sequel that might never come. A Transformer Gorilla sounds like a no-brainer any day of the week, but if it was going to be surrounded by unnecessary lore and bored performances from most of the Autobots, they could’ve used the help of another Hasbro franchise the studio trying to get off the ground for years.
With uneven pacing, a runtime longer than it could’ve been, and not enough good performances from the cast, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts manages to erase the good faith Bumblebee brought to the franchise the last time the Autobots were seen on the big screen. Anthony Ramos and Pete Davidson shine in a blockbuster that gives up on retaining the audience’s attention halfway through its story, leaving the future of the robots in disguise more uncertain than ever. If the sequel is made, let’s hope the studio remembers that everything they need is visually striking sequences with a half-decent human plot.