Publics, spread out! The seventh film in the Transformers live-action movie franchise is Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. This sci-fi action flick takes us back to 1994 as a standalone sequel to 2018’s Bumblebee and a prequel to the Michael Bay films. This film is directed by Steven Caple Jr., who previously directed Creed II. It stars Anthony Ramos as Noah Diaz, an electronics expert from Brooklyn who befriends an Autobot named Mirage (Pete Davidson) and must save the world from the Terrorcons. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a decent movie that’s one of the strongest installments in the franchise, which isn’t saying much.
This series has come a long way over the past 16 years. We got to see Shia LaBeouf, Mark Wahlberg, and Hailee Steinfeld as the human faces of this series, and now Ramos takes the wheel as the new protagonist of the Transformers series. Those who have seen him in musicals like Hamilton and In the Heights know he has the swagger, charisma and screen presence to carry a franchise like this. Noah is quite different from Sam Witwicky, Cade Yeager and Charlie Watson. He once worked in the military, but now struggles to find a job to support his family and provide his younger brother with the medical care he needs. The film does a great job of reinforcing the emotional weight of the opening act.
After losing a job opportunity, Noah attempts to steal a Porsche. However, it’s not just any Porsche. He finds himself in an Autobot which helps him escape the police. This leads to a fun car chase where Mirage can show off some of her abilities. While Transformers: Rise of the Beasts could have benefited more, the streak is fun because it allowed an Autobot to do more than just fight, something many have become accustomed to with this series. He takes Noah along for the ride as the Autobots must retrieve a Transwarp Key before it can land in the wrong hands and cause worlds to be destroyed.
This movie has everything a blockbuster needs. It has doomsday stakes, a young hero ready to take over, humor timed at all the right times, and a few stars. It can almost be easy to mistake this movie for a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, because sometimes it feels like this movie has everything people complain about with those movies. This movie can feel generic at times, not capturing the soul of a non-superhero blockbuster like Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves did earlier this year.
However, that’s not to say that Transformers: Rise of the Beasts isn’t devoid of fun. There’s a lot of joy to be had in the film’s action sequences, because seeing robots tearing each other apart is quintessential popcorn entertainment. However, the locations of these action scenes are far less memorable than Bay’s films. While the film benefits greatly from removing Bay’s masculine gaze and risque humor, much of the personality is removed as well. The film ends with a battle where two opposing armies run towards each other, something we’ve seen recently in Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. While Marvel certainly didn’t make these scenes up, they saturated it enough where, when this movie does, it feels disposable.
Speaking of saturation, the movie also has that desaturated “grey” look that MCU viewers love to complain about. However, Transformers fans won’t be disappointed to see their favorite Autobots unfold. Mirage is a fun character with an entertaining personality, and he’s joined by franchise favorites like Bumblebee, Arcee (Liza Koshy), and of course, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). In the same way that Bay’s original Transformers reflected what a typical blockbuster looked like in 2007, this film is a shining example of a 2023 blockbuster.
The first and third acts are fun, but the second act could have used a little work. There’s a fun Indiana Jones-style adventure, but it doesn’t add much to the characters or the emotional stakes. While it’s a bit predictable and won’t knock you down, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is crowd-pleasing enough to put you on their side. It doesn’t have the rich color palette of Bay, but it also doesn’t have its endless government subplots, which allows for a more focused narrative. Some of the humor doesn’t land, especially from Reek (Tobe Nwigwe). Still, Ramos is excellent alongside Dominique Fishback.
In the end, there’s just enough gas in this vehicle’s tank to create an entertaining popcorn blockbuster. The film’s lack of personality is perhaps what holds it back the most. Despite having five screenwriters credited, it feels like an artificial intelligence watched thousands of hours of MCU content and then wrote a Transformers script recycling what they saw from those movies. Caple, who directed the eighth film in the Rocky series and the seventh in the Transformers series, has yet to develop a distinctive, recognizable voice as a filmmaker. However, he knows how to entertain with all the joy, humor and thrill that a movie like this needs.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 6 equals “decent.” It fails to reach its full potential and is a mundane experience.
Disclosure: ComingSoon attended a press screening for our Transformers: Rise of the Beasts review.