• Tue. Jul 16th, 2024


ByTaylor T Carlson

Jun 6, 2023

TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS is directed by Steven Caple, Jr. The film stars Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Peter Cullen, Michelle Yeoh, John DiMaggio, Ron Perlman, and Peter Dinklage. This is the seventh live-action TRANSFORMERS film, serving as a sequel the 1980s-set BUMBLEBEE and a prequel to the 2007 TRANSFORMERS movie.

In 1994, ex-military man Noah Diaz and researcher Elena Wallace find themselves in the middle of the war between the Autobots and the Terrorcons; servants of the planet devouring Unicron. When the Terrorcons come to earth, the Autobots spring into action, seeking an artifact that’ll enable them to return to their home world of Cybertron. But if the Terrorcons get their hands on it first, they’ll use it to bring Unicron to devour Earth. Allying with the beastly but heroic Maximals, our heroes set out to triumph against a great evil, preventing the destruction of the world outright.

It’s been a long and interesting ride for these live action TRANSFORMERS movies, but let’s face the facts… they just haven’t been very good. The films, despite great CGI work, are inconsistent, dimwitted, and largely remain failures to live up to their classic animated series and toy line from the 1980s. There’s definite franchise fatigue kicking in. To be perfectly honest, I was less than enthused to attend to the screening of the latest movie. And while I admit the final product is awash in cinematic cliches and brings nothing new to the world of action sci-fi cinema, it’s at least above average for a TRANSFORMERS film and a step in the right direction for the series if nothing else. It may be too little too late, coming off the heals of several mediocre films, but it impressed this moviegoer despite its flaws.

The biggest complaint I had with the original 2007 live-action film was its uneven tone. In a review for that movie, I criticized it for feeling like two separate screenplays, one for a TRANSFORMERS movie and one for a bad teen comedy, were basically slapped together into one movie. RISE OF THE BEASTS smartly keeps the human characters to a comfortable minimum, and the ones we get have relatable struggles who want to rise above their mundane lives to help save the world. The scenes introducing them take place in 1990s New York City (because, of course, every movie ever made has to be set in whole or in part in NYC). These characters aren’t exactly original, but there’s above average for this franchise, and that’s a good thing. There are moments where emotion and drama play second fiddle to the action; a welcomed changed following the big, dumb, and loud shaky-cam Michael Bay-directed movies (Bay is still credited as a producer).

Fortunately, the movie still manages to deliver when it comes to the action sequences when they’re called for. Whether it’s a high-speed car chase, a robotic rumble in the Peruvian jungles, or all hell breaking loose for an enemy invasion, these sequences deliver. The screening I attended was a shared press/public one, and there were plenty of cheers and applause throughout, proving it’s likely to be a hit with mainstream audiences. New characters are introduced in this film, namely the Maximals from the 1990s BEAST WARS line, most of whom get their share of entertaining moments.

The movie, however, never quite rises above being a series of genre cliches. Average humans thrust into a conflict to save the world? Check. Dramatic death and near-death moments? Check. World travel? Check. A search for an all-important MacGuffin? Check. A big action-packed CGI finale? Check? Attempts to set up a bigger cinematic universe? Check. Mid-credits scene? Check? (There’s no post-credits scene though, so don’t stay to the very end.) The attempt to build a larger cinematic universe name drops another major Hasbro property, and this got more applause in my screening than anything else. No spoilers though. And while I appreciate the attempts to recreate 1990s New York, how many shots of the Twin Towers do we need? And did the filmmakers forget there were types of music other than hip hop that existed in the 90s? Seriously, at least one or two alternative rock songs would’ve mixed things up a bit and added some variety. I also wish attempts had been made to flesh out some of the secondary characters; characters like Rhinox and Cheetor don’t get anything to do other than look cool. Oh well. Maybe they’ll get more to do when TRANSFORMERS 8 inevitably comes out.

RISE OF THE BEASTS is awash in cinematic cliches, but it’s still probably the best live-action TRANSFORMERS movie to date. For audiences seeking a decent popcorn movie that’ll kill two hours and deliver the goods, this one should fit the bill, though I don’t think it’ll turn haters of the earlier movies into fans. Moderately recommended.

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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