🎞️ When is Transformers: Rise of the Beasts out: In cinemas from 7 June, 2023
⭐️ Our rating: 2/5
🎭 Who's in it? Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Peter Cullen, Pete Davidson, Ron Perlman, Michelle Yeoh, Colman Domingo
👍 What we liked: Director Steven Caple Jr. helms impressive action sequences, while Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback are some of the series' better human characters.
👎 What we didn't: Attempt to work out the internal logic of the film and you may lose a few brain cells.
📖 What's it about? Autobots, Maximals, and humans must team up to stop Unicron from coming to Earth and eating the planet.
⏱️ How long is it? 2 hours, 7 minutes (12A)
When does an IP lose the right to be labelled Intellectual Property? It’s a question the Transformers series has come up against time and time again, each sequel becoming further detached from logic: Dark Side of the Moon rewrote the Moon Landing, Age of Extinction introduced Dinobots, and The Last Knight saw King Arthur aided by robots.
Read more: Transformers recap: The story so far
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts does little to win over anyone asking where the intellect has gone. The seventh instalment, set in 1994, sees Optimus Prime’s motley crew of motors (including a quippy Pete Davidson) teaming up with the Maximals — robot animals— to stop a planet-eating monstrosity called Unicron from devouring Earth.
Watch a trailer for Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
There are two humans inexplicably caught up in the world-ending affair, played by Anthony Ramos (In The Heights) and Dominique Fishback (Judas and the Black Messiah), plus there’s the usual MacGuffin (whatever a Transwarp Key is) and a third act featuring both a sky beam and a CGI army of bug-like bots. In other words, it’s business as usual.
Director Steven Caple Jr. does a capable job introducing Ramos and Fishback’s characters, giving them humanity and heart, the filmmaker taking cues from the remarkably decent Bumblebee.
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The actors do an equally fine job imbuing their parts with humour and pathos, yet, come the final act, they are reduced to cliches, their traits boiled down to the fact they’re both from Brooklyn (mentioned half a dozen times…).
The soundtrack, filled with ‘90s greats, does some heavy lifting, helping the film speed off the starting line. That’s until the various screeching halts in the plotting as Autobots and humans stop for some obligatory expository dialogue, forcefully ticking story beats before the robots start punching each other again.
It’s at these points that you start to question the film’s logic: why are the Maximals disguised as animals when they are so obviously not animals? How is Unicron attacking Earth when we know he’s inside the Earth in The Last Knight? Why is the Maximals’ leader called Optimus Primal? Actually, that last one’s explained.
When you stop and think about Rise of the Beasts, the whole thing falls apart. But get caught up in the action, turn off your brain, and let the CGI wash over, you will have a good time.
And if that’s what you’re after, then you may actually be excited by the final groan-worthy, head-scratching tease of a new cinematic universe.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is in UK cinemas from 7 June, 2023.
Watch: Meet the Maximals