Transformers: Rise of the Beasts takes the robots in disguise back… to 1994 in this loose adaptation of the 1980s Transformers: The Movie, directed by Steven Caple Jr. and written by Joby Harold. A planet-size mech-god that moves from world to world, devouring its resources named Unicron (Colman Domingo), is on the loose. In the ultimate battle, Unicron and his hench bots, the Terrorcons, attack the planet of the Maximals. Sacrificing his life, the Maximal leader, Apelina, sends his remaining Maximals, led by Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman), to Earth with the Transwarp Key, which would allow Unicron to travel to any planet and devour it in an instant.
On Earth, in 1994, museum intern Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback) attempts to translate an ancient talisman — the Transwarp Key — and unlocks a beacon that calls the Terrorcons to Earth. Meanwhile, ex-military specialist Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) is looking for a job with health insurance for his sick little brother. Finding no luck, Noah turns to stealing cars for quick cash, and in one heist, he attempts to steal the Autobot Mirage (Pete Davidson). After a thrilling escape from the police, Mirage, and Noah become fast friends. Then Optimus Prime calls upon their new human companion to help steal the Transwarp Key, as it is the portal to send the Autobots home. Then the whole Unicorn and Terrorcon situation puts a damper on Optimus Prime’s plan and Noah’s duty to save Earth from destruction.
Look, I’m too old to have been a Transformers fan. I grew up with Micronauts and Robotech. I have a generally good idea of how Transformers work, but as an outsider, I found myself utterly bored by Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. Let’s be real. They are cars that turn into robotic warriors. The Maximals are robotic animals that turn into robotic warriors. All the special effects are pumped into the transformation from one state to the other. Sure, they look cool, but not much has evolved from the franchise’s other entries.
“…help steal the Transwarp Key, as it is the portal to send the Autobots home.”
The plot is bland as hell. It’s pretty much a straightforward narrative, almost as if I took all my Transformers toys into my backyard and made up a story on the spot. The narrative moves us from one set piece to the next, one fight to the next, and then from New York to South America. Our heroes are looking for the thing (Transwarp Key) while being chased by the villains. It all culminates predictably: our heroes save Earth at the last minute while learning to trust one another and work as a team.
What is missing is some exciting take on the human condition. It’s as deep as a children’s wading pool. It’s just plain dull. Yes, the action looks great. But it’s all action for action’s sake. There’s no heart behind the CGU slugfest. What’s offered to the fans is Peter Cullen as the only man who can voice Optimus Prime, Pete Davidson for comic relief, and Michelle Yeoh and Ron Perlman for some gravitas.
The only thing wrong with Transformers: Rise of the Beast is that it’s bland and boring. Considering the problem lies solely in the plain script, the overall enterprise feels like a waste of a few hundred million dollars. Hollywood, you can do better.
"…bland and boring..."