Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Offers Some Good Summer Fun

OPTIMUS PRIME in “TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS.” Courtesy of Paramount/Skydance/Hasbro.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a nice offering of escapist entertainment and some good summer fun at the movie theater.

Bumblebee was a breath of fresh air for the Transformers franchise with more of a focus on heart rather than action. This film offers just as much fun as what we saw in 2018 while adding way more action back into the mix. It probably helps that Michael Bay is not sitting in the director’s chair. The Bay films leave a sour taste in the mouth whereas the prequels do not. I do have some questions after watching the film. However, I imagine the next sequel in the franchise will help explain why the Maximals are nowhere to be seen in the 2007 film. But outside of that, it offered a nice dose of escapist entertainment on a Sunday afternoon.

Arcee, Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.

One of the set pieces takes place at a new museum on Ellis Island. While this film takes place in 1994, the museum opened back in 1990. I’ve been to Ellis Island a few times and the one in the film certainly looks nothing like the museum at Ellis Island. Not so much in terms of the building design but the contents itself. It feels more like the American Museum of Natural History. You know, the museum that comes alive at night. Anyway, the search for the transwarp key is what drives the plot in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. If there’s any chance at protecting Earth, the Autobots must work with a pair of humans and the Maximals–Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman), Airazor (Michelle Yeoh), Cheetor (Tongayi Chirisa), and Rhinox (David Sobolov)–to defeat the Terrorcrons and Unicron (Colmon Domingo).

On the human side of things, both former U.S. Army private Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) and Ellis Island researcher Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback) manage to cross paths with the Autobots. Noah has an adrenaline-inducing encounter with Mirage (Pete Davidson) before meeting the rest of the Autobots. He encounters Elena when they’re searching for the cause of the signal. Unfortunately, so are Scourge (Peter Dinklage) and the Terrorcons are as well. We quickly learn that there’s just one half of the key and the other one is elsewhere, presumably in Peru if Elena’s research is correct.

Next to getting the right mix of heart and action, the most important thing is to not have too many Transformers in the film. Once a filmmaker decides to have way too much going on, there’s no going back from that. That’s something that Michael Bay didn’t seem to get when he was directing the films. It’s one reason why the prequels better. You know the old saying, right? Less is more. In this case, it really is.

One of the more intriguing choices here is a closing scene featuring Agent Burke (Michael Kelly) and Noah Diaz that sets up a crossover with G.I. Joe. In another universe, this probably would be a good idea. However, not even a recent reboot could save the G.I. Joe franchise. Given that Hasbro owns the rights to both, I suppose it is only a matter of time. Whether a crossover movie is something that can be successful or not is a different question. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Before any of this can happen on the big screen, there’s an animated film to look forward to watching.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a nostalgic and entertaining 1990s thrill ride.

DIRECTOR: Steven Caple Jr.
SCREENWRITERS: Joby Harold and Darnell Metayer & Josh Peters and Erich Hoeber & Jon Hoeber
CAST: Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Luna Lauren Velez, Dean Scott Vazquez, Tobe Nwigwe, Peter Cullen, Ron Perlman, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Yeoh, Liza Koshy, John DiMaggio, David Sobolov, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Pete Davidson, Cristo Fernández, Tongayi Chirisa

Paramount released Transformers: Rise of the Beasts in theaters on June 9, 2023. Grade: 3.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.