The 'Transformers' franchise has changed the modern blockbuster is more ways than we realise. It was one of the first to take a nostalgic children's property and give it an adult spin, while the original film's sound and character designs really shaped the next decade. It's no secret that the longer the franchise went on, its part were wearing thin and it couldn't continue in its current state. In came 'Bumblebee', the first spin-off and also a prequel taking place in the 80s, that brought a fresh new look to the world of the Autobots. With critical success now claimed, we are seeing the first mainline 'Transformers' film 'Rise of the Beasts' since 2017's mess, 'The Last Knight'.
Taking place in 1994, Noah (Anthony Ramos, 'In the Heights', 'The Bad Guys') is trying to support his family, but this often leads him right into trouble. We also meet Elena (Dominique Fishback, 'Judas and the Black Messiah', 'The Hate U Give'), who works at a museum that has recently discovered an artefact that doesn't connect to any known ancient civilisation. We find out this is part of a key that can send the Transformers home - they have been suck on Earth due to a war with Unicron (Colman Domingo, 'Candyman', 'If Beale Street Could Talk'). She sets this off as Noah is stealing a car that turns out to be Mirage (Pete Davidson, 'The King of Staten Island', 'Bodies Bodies Bodies') and thus these humans accidentally land themselves in the middle of an intergalactic war. Along with Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen, 'Piglet's Big Movie', 'Treasure Planet') and Arcee (Liza Koshy, 'My Little Pony: A New Generation', 'Work It'), who team up with the Maximals, Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman, 'Nightmare Alley', Netflix's 'Don't Look Up'), Rhinox (David Sobolov, 'Star Trek: Into Darkness') and Airazor (Michelle Yeoh, 'Everything Everywhere All at Once', 'Crazy Rich Asians') to defeat Scourge (Peter Dinklage, 'Avengers: Infinity War', 'The Croods: A New Age') and stop Unicron from coming to Earth.
While 'Rise of the Beasts' has some rusty parts, on the whole, it's a fun popcorn flick. The CGI and action sequences (apart from one moment in the third act) are some of the franchise's best, the additions of the Maximals making the action feel very new for the 'Transformers' film franchise. And look, if you see a big ape beating stuff up, I'm absolutely here for it every time. But it still has the same issue as the previous mainline films - the focus is on the human characters. I understand these films can't cost a billion dollars to make, but they are yet to make me invested in the human characters that take up a bulk of the run time.
The real success of the film is the action; the final big battle with Unicron is every teenage boy's dream.
More like 'Bumblebee', this feels like a family film. The humour is decent but swings younger (of course, they still have some tongue-in-cheek things for older audiences). But the real success of the film is the action; the final big battle with Unicron is every teenage boy's dream, and I was truly living for it. Transformers are just tearing each other all over while we get rap music playing - it's a whole new energy for the franchise.
'Transformers: Rise of the Beasts' brings the fun back to Autobots film adventures, but what stops this from soaring is its need to make human characters the main focus. When it's metal-on-metal fighting it's the most fun. Compared to 'The Last Knight' this is a breath of fresh air, but it still needs a little more gas to be the complete package.