TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS
Starring: Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Peter Cullen, Pete Davidson, Liza Koshy, Cristo Fernández, John DiMaggio, Ron Perlman, Michelle Yeoh, David Sobolov, Tongayi Chirisa, Peter Dinklage, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, and Colman Domingo
Director: Steven Caple Jr.
While not especially impressive from a storytelling perspective, Rise of the Beasts nonetheless comes off as a solid, B-tier Transformers story with real heart and some genuinely fun action sequences, particularly those that include certain 90s needle drops. The humor largely doesn’t work for most of the movie, and the titular beasts are more like guest stars than fully developed characters, but the film is well-structured with Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) being given more dimensionality than he has ever had before. I wouldn’t say I’m “confident” in the future of this pretty much rebooted franchise, but I am cautiously optimistic.
There’s nothing groundbreaking about Rise of the Beasts aside from it being Transformers’ second “not bad” film in a row. Although Beasts is nowhere near the heights of Bumblebee, returning to the run-of-the-mill action and dialogue that plagues most of these films, none of it is overly offensive. Pete Davidson’s voice work as Mirage is a highlight, and both Dominique Fishback (Elena) and Anthony Ramos (Noah) are absolute stars. Combine that with an excellent 90s hip-hop/R&B soundtrack, and the film’s perfectly okay. Plus, it gets an extra half-reel for including a certain Incan first name I’m highly familiar with.
Rise of The Beasts is proof that what this franchise needed is less of Michael Bay’s sensibilities and more containment. That said, there’s still much more room for improvement. The first two acts drag their feet to a laborious degree by spending too much of its overlong runtime setting up uninteresting stakes that don’t engage as much as they intend to. Still, though, the new additions, such as Anthony Ramos and Pete Davidson, shine, and the final act excites. It’s a flawed film, but it’s watchable, nonetheless.