- Movie Rating -

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

| June 12, 2023

I have dozens of logistical questions with regards to Transformers: Rise of the Beastsbut for the sake of time and my sanity – I’ll just focus on one: Why does the robot-gorilla have hair?  I mean, 98% of his body is metal plating, but he has what looks like a crop top – a real crop top.  Why the hair?  Why, in his construction, was this in the design plans?  What is it, exactly?  A wig?  Hair-plugs?  Does it boost his confidence and make him feel young again? 

These questions were itching in my brain for the rest of the movie, and it superseded all other objections that I might have had.  It even stopped me from asking why the robot falcon has actual feathers.  The questions of robot gorilla hair seemed more pertinent.

You may ask many logical questions during Transformers: Rise of the Beasts if you are not an 11-year-old boy.  For them, this might be a thrill-ride.  For anyone else, it’s merely a minor step-up from the overbearing nature of the six brobdingnagian special effects monstrosities that preceded it.

Michael Bay is gone from this project and the guy at the helm is Steven Chaple, Jr., previously the director of Creed II.  Under his direction, this film is a little more coherent, the population of characters is slimmed down and the action scenes actually have weight.  Plus, the robots have actual, identifiable faces; we can see their eyes their noses and, when applicable, their lips.  This, you should know, does not make the movie especially good but it does give us more of a scope on what is happening from moment to moment – something to which Bay repeatedly dropped the ball.

The story is needlessly over-complicated.  This is a sequel to 2018’s Bumblebee but a prequel to Bay’s 2007 movie.  It begins centuries ago on a distant planet that is home to a group of jungle robots called Maximals who are challenged by a planet-eating robot named Unicron (voiced by Colman Domingo).  A small number of these Maximals escape Unicron’s fury by way of the movie’s MacGuffin – a TransWarp key that will allow these robots to open up a wormhole and travel between dimensions.  If he has the key, he will travel through space and devoid it of life as we know it.

The leader of the force that will keep Unicron from turning the universe into a buffet is Optimus Primal (voiced by Ron Perlman).  He’s a gorilla robot whose superior was the gorilla with the crop-top.  I’ll continue to ponder that while you read on.

Cut to, for no real reason, New York City in 1994.  We meet two fleshy protagnonists. First is Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos), a former veteran who is struggling to take care of his brother who is suffering from sickle cell anemia, but  is being given the run-around by an uncaring health care system and an inability to secure a job due to his past. He intersects with the robots when, desperate for money, he attempts to steal a beautiful Porsche 964 Carrera only to discover that it is reallyl a changey-bot named Mirage (voiced by Pete Davidson) who can create his own hologram clones.

The other is Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback) a brilliant mind waiting to be given a chance – she is an archaeology intern at The Museum of Natural History who earns little to no respect from her superiors.  She crosses the bots when she comes into contact with an ancient artifact that turns out to be one half of the TransWarp key that the good guys and the bad guys are soon crashing down walls to find.

After tearing up a significant part of Central Park West, the action shift to Peru where everyone is hell-bent on finding the other half of the TransWarp key, leading to a team-up with the surviving Maximals.

You’ve seen it before.  True, it is done with more skill here (and better editing) but that doesn’t mean that it is soaked in originality.  The story is essentially out of a video game and the characters, while more identifiable than before, aren’t really given anything to do other than punch each other.

So, what did I like.  I appreciated the fact that the movie is a little easier to follow.  The action scenes haven’t changed but they are more coherent.  For one thing, the robots themselves aren’t the size of skyscrapers – they’re more the size of a three story apartment building.  That makes their interaction with the human characters feel a little more connective.

Plus, the tone of this movie feels a little better.  Bay’s entries always felt sort of mean-spirited and obnoxious – like a 15-year-old who won’t turn the radio down.  This movie feels a little more child-like.  The mood is lighter and the story leans a little more on the human characters.

I appreciate this movie more than I expected.  It’s still a noisy special effects picture but it has been written and directed with a little more skill and a little more patience.  I just wish that enjoyed it more.  I wish that Chaple had made a movie for someone older than 11.  I wish that the movie had a sufficient explanation for why the robot gorilla had hair or the robot falcon had feathers.  Just one word of dialogue to silence my questions.  Guess you can’t have everything.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2023) View IMDB Filed in: Sci-Fi/Fantasty