Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

What are we really missing here?

The last “Transformers” movie to be entertaining was the 80s prequel “Bumblebee,” which worked because of Hailee Steinfeld’s performance and the surprisingly big heart between her and the famous yellow autobot. Now, we have the 90s sequel-prequel (or whatever the Hell you want to call it) called “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” and it’s not quite as bad as you’d expect. It’s more of the same, but not as bombastically recycled as “Age of Extinction” or “The Last Knight.”

But that’s probably saying that “a kick to a crotch is better than a knee to groin” (Thank you Richard Roeper for that).

But the movie isn’t that bad. It just doesn’t distinguish itself, because we have the same autobots dealing with the same enemies who want to destroy our planet. Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) and Bumblebee are both back, and they have some new recruits like Mirage (voiced by Pete Davidson) and Arcee (voiced by Liza Koshy). Their mission is to team up with another Transformers race known as Maximals (Ron Perlman voices the gorilla Optimus Primal, while Michelle Yeoh voices the eagle Airazor) to battle the evil race known as the Terrorcons. And their leader is Unicron (voiced by Coleman Domingo) has them gathering up pieces to an ancient key, which could give him the power to devour our planet.

The human characters in the film consist of the disgraced ex-solider Noah (Anthony Ramos) and the mistreated artifact museum intern Elena (Dominique Fishback). Their stories are actually charming breaks from all the noises and special effects. Noah’s little brother Kris (Dean Scott Vazquez) has a sickle cell condition, and they can’t afford the best doctors, while Elena knows more about ancient artifacts than her self-congratulatory boss. These two must team up with the Autobots and Maximals to save the world.

“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” is directed by Stephen Caple, Jr., who knew a good sequel like “Creed II.” And ever since “The Last Knight” was loathed by critics and audiences, Michael Bay made the right call to stop directing “Transformers” movies. Instead, he’s just the producer. So, this prequel-sequel has the potential to be as entertaining as “Bumblebee” was, because of the likability within the main human characters. But even if it runs for over 2 hours, there’s not enough time to get to know more about them.

Out of all the voice actors in the film (also with Peter Dinklage and John DiMaggio in the mix), the most enjoyable has to be Davidson, who knows how to talk cool. And he does a stylish job as Mirage, especially when he transforms into a car who can dodge the police by dividing himself, and when he says to Noah: “You were inside me.”

And I like the way Bumblebee joins the fight to the tune of LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” My friend did say the 90s was a great period for music, and this movie loves the good stuff on the soundtrack. It knows how to “Hypnotize.”

But the story isn’t all that interesting. It just gets stuck with the same robot battles, that don’t keep much of your attention. Maybe it will for the kids and some die hard fans, but not much for those who want originality. In fact, during the third, it keeps ending. About three times at least. It doesn’t know when to be over.

Rating: 2 out of 4.

Categories: Action, Adventure, Prequel, Sci Fi

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