The Robots In Disguise return once again in the sixth live-action feature film for the Hasbro characters. But should they keep rolling out or be sent to the scrapyard? It’s time to explore Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
Transformers fans across the world are ready to experience the Rise Of The Beasts. And in the coming days, they most certainly can. Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts is heading into cinemas across the world. The sixth live-action movie for the Hasbro-created characters and the second prequel film to the five Michael Bay movies, this time we meet the Maximals and the Terrorcons. And there are certainly some surprises and fist-pumping action along the way. But the question is, can the Transformers keep rolling out successfully and become a cinema staple? Or should they finally be consigned to the scrapyard of movie history?
Returning to the action and spectacle that have captured moviegoers around the world, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will take audiences on a ‘90s globetrotting adventure with the Autobots and introduce a whole new faction of Transformers – the Maximals – to join them as allies in the existing battle for earth. Directed by Steven Caple Jr. and starring Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback, the film arrives in cinemas on June 8, 2023.
The franchise isn’t ready for the scrap heap…YET. However, this new movie is a large step back from Bumblebee. Where that film had a quiet, almost childlike innocence to it to offset the action, here we are back on Michael Bay territory. Explosions, large-scale robot violence, and incredibly loud at times, it almost feels like we have stepped back in time to the start of the live-action movies. Of course, the action scenes are handled deftly, and we get engaged with them. But where is the human story? Where are the human characters that we can invest in and cheer on throughout proceedings?
Where Bumblebee had a great human story at its heart, here the humans are just token additions that add very little. This isn’t the fault of the stars Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback. They give their best in what little material they have to work with. They are seemingly added into the mix to offset the CGI robots we have come to see and expect. It almost feels as if they were an afterthought, something that writer Joby Harold just threw into the mix without much consideration. And neither is fully fleshed out to be a standout character. Ramos gets the better of the storyline, knowing his motives for what he does and we can accept it. But Dominique Fishback is simply thrown in as a character that suddenly knows the answer and key to everything. And it doesn’t work fully.
The direction by Steven Caplan Jr. is actually suited to the film. He has a keen eye for his actors, his landscapes, and his action. He needs to be of course. This kind of big-budget Hollywood summer tentpole demands it. And he manages to deliver a film that is suitable and enjoyable for the whole family, without giving us something that we will remember the following morning. The way he shows his locations, such as Peru, is really good, colorful, and engaging. He elicits good performances from his actors, despite the limitations they have to work with, thanks to the script. And he handles the action sequences with ease. For the most part, we can see the action in its entirety. But sadly, he does end up going the Bay route and throwing set-pieces at us, things that made us despise the last two Bay-directed movies.
The score for the movie by Jongnic Bontemps is, sad to say, pretty average. His cues for some of the scenes we will see are fitting in part, but for the majority of the film’s running time, it is pretty ordinary. When you have to go back and use Steve Jablonsky’s cues from the original movie and from The Last Knight, and Vince DiCola’s score for Transformers: The Movie, you know you have a problem. That’s not to say that they are not welcome additions. It is wonderful to hear them again. But you get the feeling that a lack of original ideas has come into play. Whereas the addition of Stan Bush’s song ‘The Touch’ in Bumblebee was a great addition, here it comes off as desperate.
ROBOTS IN DISGUISE
We, of course, are here for the Transformers themselves. And they once again light up the screen. The action they take part in is wonderful, with the final half an hour of the film featuring a battle for the ages. It comes as little surprise that this final thirty minutes is the best in the movie. We get death, destruction, and heroic deeds from our robot friends. And we do find ourselves punching the air at times. But here again, like in Transformers: Age Of Extinction, some of the characters we are here to see are sidelined somewhat. The characters of Rhinox and Cheetor get very little to do for the most part. But they do get their time to shine in the final battle. We find ourselves sighing, thinking to ourselves ‘Finally, they are actually doing something.’
The biggest sidelined character is *SPOILER ALERT*, our beloved Bumblebee. To find out why, you need to see the movie for yourselves. Maybe the filmmakers decided, ‘He has had his own standalone movie, let’s take him out for the most part in this one.’ We have come to see him in action, to cheer as the character we have taken to our hearts grabs them once again and has us cheering. And we are denied that. But when he gets into the action, we can’t help but hit the arms of our seats. He goes into battle, we get excited, and he doesn’t let us down.
However, Optimus Prime will annoy some fans and viewers alike. Once again perfectly voiced by the legendary Peter Cullen, the script has Prime go back a step. Instead of being the leader we admire, the Autobot we can hang our hopes on, this time around, he has a seeming grudge against humanity. And that is not the character we love so dearly. In fact, it is almost a character assassination of the one Autobot that holds the franchise together. From the character we fell in love with in the original series, the one we wept over as he died in Transformers-The Movie. The one we cheered as he returned later in the animated show, to his live-action debut, this time, we find ourselves, for the most part, despising him. And that isn’t good.
But the standout of them all comes in the shape of Mirage. Voiced perfectly by Pete Davidson, he will become a firm favorite amongst the younger viewers and especially the children in the audience. With the distinct lack of Bumblebee, it is left to Mirage to become the focus of our emotions. And he accomplishes it brilliantly. Davidson’s vocals fit the character like a hand in a glove. Ok, so some of his speech may annoy the hardcore fans of the character. But that doesn’t distract from Davidson’s infectious enthusiasm as Mirage. And he is a highlight.
THE MAXIMALS AND TERRORCONS
The Maximals make for quite the addition to the movie. Or two of them anyway. Optimus Primal, voiced by Ron Perlman, is terrific. Like a robotic version of King Kong, he holds sway in almost every scene he features in. And like the king of the Titans himself, the scenes of him in battle, swinging through trees or on the underside of a Terrorcon bridge, have us enthralled. The same goes for the Michelle Yeoh voiced Airazor. The character appears within the first forty-five minutes and has us hooked. The character is vital to the plot moving forward and has part of the storyline to back up her inclusion.
Peter Dinklage as the voice of Scourge is also on point. His vocals are fitting to the character, giving a truly evil voice to the despicable leader of the Terrorcons. That’s the thing with Dinklage. For someone who off screen is a charming, friendly man, he can put in nasty, villainous performances that have us believing that he could really be that nasty. David Sobolov as Battletrap and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez as Nightbird also give good vocal performances that fit their supporting status. Battletrap and Nightbird are background, secondary villains but once they get their chance to shine, they grab it with aplomb.
It sounds like the film is bad. It’s not. It is an enjoyable romp that audiences will lap up in their droves. Some of the comedy is a bit hit-and-miss at times but the action more than makes up for it. But the lack of genuine human characters, a sense of rushing through some things that could be better handled instead of plowing headlong into the next action sequence sees the film take a step backward. Rather than becoming a companion piece to Bumblebee, it fits itself into the Bay universe instead. And that’s a pity as there are some genuinely superb moments in the film.
The Transformers franchise will continue after this film regardless. There is nothing here that will derail the franchise from its path. Or is there? Again, no spoilers but the film’s final shot promises something that I sincerely hope doesn’t come to fruition. Some audience members may cheer, and some may speculate in which direction the franchise is going. Myself, I found it cringe-worthy to be polite. You will need to see the film to understand what I mean.
But despite this, the film is good enough to become a box office smash. It deserves that, at least. Rather than heading for the scrap yard, the franchise continues to roll out. It won’t transform your life, but it will keep you entertained for a couple of hours.
Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts is distributed by Paramount Pictures and will be in UK cinemas from June 8th, and in United States Theaters from June 9th. Book your tickets NOW!
Carl Roberts is the News Editor for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!