Saturday 10 June 2023

REVIEW: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023) - Starring Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback and Peter Cullen

Review by Jon Donnis
I love Transformers, I grew up on the cartoon, and I have enjoyed all of the live action movies, even when it was unpopular to do so.

Rise of the Beasts is the seventh film in the franchise, it acts as a standalone sequel to Bumblebee (2018), and as a prequel to Transformers (2007). As long as you have a general understanding of what a Transformer is, you can watch this film, without ever having to see any of the other films.

The film starts on a jungle planet which long ago was colonized by Transformers, the Maximals, an advanced race of Cybertronians with beast modes, (instead of transforming into cars and planes, these guys transform into animal like robot creatures) find their home world under attack by Unicron, a malevolent deity who consumes entire planets. Leading the charge are Unicron's heralds, the Terrorcons, and an army of Predacon drones commanded by Scourge (Peter Dinklage). Their objective is to seize the Transwarp Key, the Maximals' most powerful piece of technology capable of opening portals through space and time. In a selfless act, Apelinq (David Sobolov), the leader of the Maximals, sacrifices himself, allowing his comrades to escape before Unicron devours their planet. Now under the leadership of Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman), the Maximals utilize the Transwarp Key to seek refuge on Earth.

Meanwhile, in 1994 Brooklyn, Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos), a former military electronics expert, struggles to find employment to support his family. Persuaded by his friend Reek (Tobe Nwigwe), Noah decides to steal a Porsche 911 for profit, only to discover that the vehicle is actually the Autobot Mirage (Pete Davidson) in disguise. Simultaneously, Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback), an intern at a museum, examines an ancient statue depicting a falcon bearing the Maximal symbol. In a surprising turn of events, Elena accidentally breaks the statue open, revealing one half of the Transwarp Key hidden within. The key emits a powerful energy pulse that catches the attention of Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), who summons the other Autobots. During Noah's attempted theft, Mirage receives a distress call and involves Noah in the Autobots' mission to recover the key, which they need to return to their homeworld, Cybertron.

Attracted by the key's unique signature, the Terrorcons arrive on Earth, thrusting Elena into the midst of the conflict when they attack the Autobots outside the museum. Tragically, Bumblebee falls victim to Scourge's attack, and the villain steals one half of the key. However, the Maximal Airazor (Michelle Yeoh) arrives and repels Scourge, preventing further damage. Airazor enlightens the Autobots about the Maximals' hidden existence on Earth for thousands of years and reveals that they split the Transwarp Key into two halves to safeguard it from Unicron (Colman Domingo). Despite the inherent risks, Optimus Prime insists on reassembling the key, determined to use it to return the Autobots to their home, while Noah secretly plots to destroy the key, fearing the consequences for his world's safety.

Now if you have never seen a Transformers film before, then all of that will sound really confusing, but it is all just techno jargon and fancy names, the simple way to look at this film is as follows, giant transforming robots are fighting other giant transforming robots to protect the earth. They have a few humans helping them, and there is lots of action and visual effects.

As with pretty much all of the Transformers films, the plot really isn't that important. This is a simple straight forward action film with great visual effects, some humour and a story about having strong morals to help others. That's it.

I have always enjoyed Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime, he is the voice I have grown up with, and when I hear him speak it really does bring back so many happy memories.

I loved this film, it was great to see the Maximals, which add a whole new style of Transformers to the mix. I wasn't overly impressed by the threat of Unicron, it is a bit too big to be taken seriously, basically planet sized. I did think that the Terrorcons lacked character, whereas the Autobots and Maximals had plenty, I think to hate the villain, you need to know more about its backstory, and a robot's soul being controlled by Unicron seemed a bit weak for me. That really is the only complaint I had about the film.

I thought the end was satisfying, the good guys of course win, and you know they will win, but it was done well.

The Good
If you have seen the other 6 Transformers film, then you will surely enjoy this one too, it is one of the stronger ones in the series. Unlike the cartoon, the film stays away from woke politics, and just delivers a classic Transformers type film. The visual effects are perfect as you would expect from a big budget film. I enjoyed the performances of both Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback, who both felt like they earned their roles as opposed to have been given them to fill a quota.

The Bad
The Terrorcons I thought were a bit bland and lacking character.

I like Transformers, I have liked all of the films, even the Bumblebee spin off.

I score Transformers: Rise of the Beasts a solid 8/10

Out in cinemas now, go watch it. And Pre-Order it on DVD and Blu-ray at