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  • Writer's pictureBen Pivoz

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Two robots square off while a couple of helpless human stand between them in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (Distributed by Paramount Pictures)

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a big, loud, dumb spectacle. It feels like the filmmakers watched a couple of eight-year-old boys play with their toys, then adapted it into a movie. The characters are barely written and the plot is the usual nonsense excuse for a bunch of scenes featuring giant robots punching each other in the face. Of course, this isn’t a surprise. That is exactly what we should expect from a Transformers movie. It exists to be the most brainless escapism possible, so it isn’t really fair to criticize it for being big, loud and dumb. That was a deliberate choice. However, it is fair to criticize it for being big, loud, dumb and neither fun nor entertaining.

The main issue is how terrible it looks. The robots are ugly and interchangeable. Not only are they unpleasant to look at in the rare quieter moments, but it is hard to figure out who you are looking at during the hyper-edited action scenes. Couple that with the dull CGI and Rise of the Beasts is actively difficult to watch. It is just clanging metal and blurry images a lot of the time. The dialogue is mostly a mix of allegedly witty quips and exclamatory “this is what is happening now” exposition. It is a cynical, lazy attempt at restarting/expanding upon a profitable franchise. The fact that this is the follow-up to the enjoyable Bumblebee makes it an even bigger shame.

In 1994 (so it takes place before everything except Bumblebee), the heroic Autobots must stop some evil robots from obtaining the whatever device, which would allow them to summon a planet-eating creature to destroy Earth.

Mirage (voiced by Pete Davidson) hangs out with Noah (Anthony Ramos)

As usual, the bots are aided by helpful humans, who only need a very brief adjustment period after learning that their car is actually a sentient alien robot. Generally, humans are in these movies so the audience has an entry point and it’s easier for the screenplay to act like there is something relatable at stake. You see, they’re doing it for family! Yet these people are merely walking plot devices, useful for asking questions so the other characters have to explain things. Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback are good actors, but they have nothing to play.

The story/characters only matter because they give a reason for the explosions and set up a sequel. The majority of the effort seems to have gone into the visuals and, as already noted, they are not good. The action is poorly choreographed and confusing. I gave up trying to figure out where anyone was in relation to each other pretty early. A battle scene has to be quite incredible to make up for me being unable to care why the characters are fighting. If there is no clear internal logic and it is uninteresting to look at? Then it becomes a chore to sit through.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a relatively merciful 114 minutes (plus a mid-credit scene), though it feels about an hour longer. There really isn’t more that needs to be said besides that it just is not worth seeing. The summer movie season is definitely built around silly, turn-your-brain-off, spectacle. But there are large variances in quality among the products fitting that description. This is at the low end. Go see Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse if you want to see a great example. That is smart, fun and exciting. Rise of the Beasts is a waste of resources in comparison. If what is teased as coming next is going to be anything like this, I sincerely hope this fails miserably.

1¼ out of 5

Cast: Anthony Ramos as Noah Diaz

Dominique Fishback as Elena Wallace

Peter Cullen as voice of Optimus Prime

Pete Davidson as voice of Mirage

Peter Dinklage as voice of Scourge

Michelle Yeoh as voice of Airazor

Ron Perlman as voice of Optimus Primal

Directed by Steven Caple Jr.

Screenplay by Joby Harold, Darnell Metayer, Josh Peters, Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber


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