Films Marvel


Written by ceditor

As Optimus Prime & Autobots prepare to square off against ancient galactic nemesis, they will need help


Optimus Prime and his gang are back and this time they have to fight for their own survival on a planet they are yet to make their own. In Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, set after the events of the previous standalone flick Bumblebee and before the first Transformers, they manage to prove their loyalty to Earth by saving the planet from destruction, and falling into the hands of Unicron, the fiercest enemy of all planets with life in it. How these Cybertronians manage to do that is what makes this film worth your while, and even gives the audience something to remember.

The best thing about the movie is that it is far more engaging than the last few sequels in the franchise and has its heart in the right place, otherwise, it would never have been able to dislodge Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse from the number one position at the box office. Call it an overdose of Cybertronian heroes and villains, or another dumb venture featuring alien robots, but this flick is closest to the legendary Transformers: The Movie that helped the franchise become world-famous, way back in 1986.

The plot

Before the events of The Transformers (2007), Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) and the Autobots take on their biggest challenge yet ― a planet-eating Dark god named Unicron (Colman Domingo). While Unicron and his heralds led by his chief minion Scourge (Peter Dinklage) are in search of the coveted Transwarp Key, Optimus Prime teams up with the part-animal, part-robot Maximals led by Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman) to save another planet from destruction. They reluctantly join hands with former army veteran Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) and an artifact researcher Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback) in order to find and preserve the very piece of technology that can open portals through space and time, and even help the Autobots return to their home planet Cybertron.

The good

Since Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a prequel of sorts, it doesn’t have to follow those films in the franchise that did the series no good. The script has something for everyone and it doesn’t miss the fact that not all humans are bad, while giving every character a backstory even if it is a human, a robot, or a god. Like all Transformers flicks, action speaks louder than words here, but words take the lion’s share here because of the way they are spoken, and when they are spoken.

Be it Bumblebee mouthing Jack Nicholson’s classic dialogue ‘You can’t handle the truth’ to Mirage commenting on Marky Mark’s decision to become an actor (Marky Mark is Mark Wahlberg who led the fourth and fifth Transformers flick!), everything fits the narrative perfectly. The introduction of Maximals on Earth could have come a little earlier in the film, but they proved themselves worthy of Optimus Prime’s trust and were instrumental in saving the world on their first try.

Take the film as a sequel of sorts to Bumblebee and it all starts to make sense, from the emergence of Unicron to the distrust Optimus Prime has for humans. The 1990s setting helps the series get a linear narrative, something that was missing from the franchise since the third film. Although it has only been produced by Michael Bay, the film somehow pays tribute to the legendary director by borrowing elements from his earlier hits such as Bad Boys, Armageddon, and The Rock.

Watching the Autobots transform is one of the best sights in a Transformers movie and in this installment, it’s no different. Add to that the final fight sequence at the climax and if you don’t get Avengers: Endgame vibes, then you need to re-evaluate your relationship with Transformers because that’s exactly what it should remind you of. Optimus Prime fighting Unicron and the rest of the Autobots and Maximals aiding in this fight for survival is something the audience has been waiting for since their mega-fight more than 35 years ago in the animated movie.

The bad

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is not something that comes as fresh, unpredictable, and relevant; except for the Beasts, the audience has seen it all before; the plot reminds one of the many superhero flicks where the fate of the planet is in the hands of a few individuals; and considering the animated series came out nearly 40 years ago, relevance takes a backseat here. However, it is still better than many of its predecessors and that’s what helps it run amok at the box office.

Although the film has a few human characters, they are relegated to minor roles once Autobots and Maximals take charge; giving the weaker race the important duty of safeguarding the ‘key’ was one of the dumbest moves attempted in the narrative, considering mere humans were against giant robots. Also, somehow the film has more characters than it can handle, and the problem that arose in the last few flicks in the franchise sort of returns albeit late in the movie.

While the film connects with the audience through its action sequences, it reminds them of a lot of films from the 80s and the 90s; there is something from Indiana Jones, a little bit of ET, and a lot of Terminator 2: Judgment Day which might be a good thing for some, but isn’t recommended when youth is the target market. Also, by going back and forth in the franchise’s timeline, the makers might have done something unique, but they forget that with the passage of time, the audience grows old as well.

The film with its lines like, “If we are to die, then we will die fighting all as one”, might appeal to the parents, but not to kids who are already distant from the 1980s franchise. The makers could have done something for the youth and had they given a substantial role to the younger brother, it might have helped the franchise, but sadly, the missed opportunity couldn’t be tapped. Also, in an era of comic book heroes and the Fast & Furious franchise, Transformers has to make itself relevant and although Bumblebee did that brilliantly in its standalone venture, the makers were unable to bank on that advantage in this flick.

Watching Mirage dethrone Bumblebee as the coolest Transformer might not have the desired effect on the fans of the only Transformer with its own movie. However, as soon as Optimus Prime appears on screen, things change and the audience is happy. Thankfully, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts came on a weekend where there was no live-action flick releasing simultaneously, and that would help it in the first week, but with The Flash and the final Indiana Jones in the pipeline, it might hurt the film’s overall box office return.

The verdict ― 3/5

Call it a reboot, a sequel or a prequel, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will end its run as one of the most loved Transformers films of recent years. The action might have shifted to Earth from outer space, the story might have taken place in the past, and the Autobots were wary of humans after their earlier encounter, the CGI-heavy film takes you on a journey that might right the wrongs of the earlier installments in the franchise. It aims high and doesn’t miss and that’s what counts, and if they end up saving their adoptive planet in the process, it’s a win-win situation for all!

Ever since it was announced that Steven Caple Jr. will be at the helm of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, fans were waiting for the flick because they knew the Creed II director will give the plot the importance it deserves. What comes out might seem to be a mixture of mindless action, needless lectures, and a repetitive storyline, but it has been executed well, making it one of the better entries in the franchise. The technique to introduce Maximals periodically also helps the film since it keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats, anticipating the entry of their favourite Beasts.

Having Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime is something that never gets old and since this film is a prequel to the first Transformers, his character isn’t similar to the one the audience loves. Add to that the Terminator 2: Judgment Day tone the film has been shot in and you get the perfect 90s vibe that most films set in the era miss. On the whole, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a welcome addition to the Transformers franchise which might not reset the series, but will certainly aid in rebuilding it, for the better. Don’t miss the crossover tease just before the end credits appear; it could make your day!

Omair Alavi – tribune

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