- Michele Yeoh, Peter Dinklage, Pete Davidson, Ron Perlman, Peter Cullen
- Steven Caple Jr.
- Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Superhero
- Release Date
- June 9, 2023
To the delight of children everywhere, the original Transformers cartoon first hit the small screen in 1984. The serial would be one of the most successful toy-selling ventures in marketing history, with Hasbro selling nearly $1 billion worth of the transforming figurines. Transformers” Rise of The Beasts, however, not so much.
Transformers: Rise of The Beasts
Unlike Fast X, which also requires you to put your brain into cruise control in order to enjoy but still has a lot of fun stunts and cool car chases, Transformers: Rise of The Beasts sputters around on low-octane fuel and bald tires. It’s the same story that we’ve already seen in several of the franchise’s films, only done with less aplomb.
Set in 1994, for no real reason except to score a handful of obvious and hamfisted nostalgia points, the seventh live-action film in the franchise, Transformers: Rise of The Beasts, once again finds the Autobots, led by the once again grumpy Optimus Prime, as they once again make human friends/allies who once again help them to stop evil Transformers who once again are hunting for an uber-powerful Transformers artifact that once again has been hidden on Earth…once again.
Coincidence ought to get a film credit because it and its developmentally delayed cousin, Sheer Dumb Luck, are responsible for every set piece, discovery, and character introduction. Just one of the dozens of examples is that an ancient Earth artifact that just so happens to contain one-half of the most powerful magical Transformers artifact in the universe just so happens to get into the hands of the one person in the world with an encyclopedic memory of every artifact known or suspected to exist. By some stroke of luck, she happens to have access to a laser-powered artifact turntable MacGuffin that seems to have been built for only one purpose, cracking open this specific artifact and activating the cyber-whatsit inside at the precise moment that both the Autobots and Terrorcons (you know they’re bad cause “terror” is right there in their name) are close enough to see its beacon, which conveniently can only be seen by Transformers.
Of course, no one in their right mind or above the age of 9 is going to a Transformers movie for the complex and thoughtful storytelling, they’re going for the action, and while Rise of The Beasts isn’t without its fun moments, they are few and far between. Additionally, since every story beat is advanced by happenstance, there’s never much reason to care what happens next. Instead, the audience is left waiting as Tesla’s Autopilot takes them to the next explosion of sound, color, and ordinance.
Director Steve Caple, Jr., best known for Creed II, does fumble through a few attempts to make the audience care about the people and robots involved; however, each one mainly falls flat. The exception is that of brothers Noah and Kris Diaz, played by Anthony Ramos and Dean Scott Vazquez. In defiance of the film’s mediocrity and cringe-inducing dialogue, the two manage to connect with one another emotionally, which in turn allows the audience to do so. This is accomplished chiefly thanks to a heartfelt and nuanced performance by Ramos that far exceeds the material.
Unfortunately, not much good can be said of the rest of the cast. Except for Peter Cullen’s Optimus and Pete Davidson’s Mirage, the Transformer voiceovers were so digitally muddled as to make them indistinguishable. Yes, one could argue that Liza Koshy and Michelle Yeoh’s lady bots’ voices were sufficiently contrasted with the men’s, but their three or four lines hardly constitute a blip on the radar. Furthermore, Davidson’s turn as the “comic relief” was equal to his talent. That is to say; it sucked tailpipe.
Davidson’s inept delivery was matched only by the horrible writing, of which there was much. In one exchange, the main villain, Scourge, espouses the line “I enjoy the look of confusion when an inferior being meets a higher power,” to an Optimus’s digital face that is so devoid of emotion that The Little Mermaid animators could be heard sighing with relief to no longer be alone.
That being said, in a soulless film full of emotionless digital robots, the blandest performance was given by Dominique Fishback. Regularly delivering her lines with all of the enthusiasm and charm of an IRS audit, Fishback’s lifeless performance was only overshadowed by her intelligibility. However, in her defense, she wasn’t helped by the fact that her character could have been replaced with a Google image search.
If things go boom is what you’re looking for, Transformers: Rise of The Beasts will certainly satiate, but, much like the cuisine from where most of its merchandise comes, it will leave you hungry thirty minutes after the final credits roll.
Disclaimer: Hasbro is openly trying to indoctrinate young people by including trans-transformers and trans children in their latest Transformers cartoon. However, we critique the woke contents of each film independently from that of their creators. Whether or not you want to give the companies responsible your hard-earned money and irreplaceable time is up to you.
Virtually all of the wokeness happens in the first 15 minutes of the film. After that, you can sit back and watch the pretty colors.
- Actual racism is played for laughs. The line, “Be sure to laugh at all their jokes. White people love that $h!t.” is uttered without a hint of self-awareness.
- In an instance of complete oblivious stupidity, a character in a multimillion-dollar cash grab yells the line, “It’s my own way to fight the nature of modern-day capitalism.”
- Every white person in the film’s first act is a barrier brought about by racism.
- The white doctor won’t treat a child in need because the family’s bills are three months past due.
- The white business owner won’t give the lead character a chance at a job because he “can’t take a risk on someone like you.”
- The white museum curator is an ignorant and self-absorbed twit who obliviously takes credit for the wisdom and knowledge of her POC intern.
- Several police officers doing their duty and behaving completely reasonably are clearly, if not expressly, murdered by willful acts performed by Mirage.
- There’s a racist joke about racism that I’m not sure is woke or just bad or both, so I’m erring on the side of woke.
James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.