The seventh installment of the toy-turned-movie franchise, “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” fails to deliver on multiple fronts. While introducing animal-shaped Transformers known as Maximals and setting the story in 1994, the film struggles to make these elements significant beyond surface-level aesthetics. The action-packed battles between Autobots and the new threat, Terrorcons, fail to compensate for a lackluster script and unremarkable human characters.
A Nostalgic Soundtrack and Missed Opportunities
Despite setting the film in 1994, “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” fails to capitalize on the era beyond a well-curated musical soundtrack and a brief nod to the O.J. Simpson trial. The opportunity to immerse the audience in a nostalgic experience is largely missed, leaving little evidence of the chosen timeframe.
An Underwhelming Plot
The plot revolves around the alliance between Autobots, led by the iconic Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen), and the Maximals as they unite against the evil Terrorcons and the world-threatening Unicron. However, Unicron's portrayal appears lackluster compared to Marvel's Galactus, rendering it a poor imitation. The human characters, portrayed by talented actors Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback, are burdened with a thankless task of saving the world but lack compelling development.
Celebrity Voices and Robot Battles
While the film boasts an ensemble of celebrity voices, including Michelle Yeoh, Pete Davidson, Peter Dinklage, and Ron Perlman, the heart of the movie remains the grand-scale robot battles. The technical virtuosity on display impresses, but the chaotic nature of these battles has become a trademark of the franchise.
A Prolonged Stretch of Mediocrity
Unfortunately, “Rise of the Beasts” suffers from prolonged periods of mediocrity, particularly when the human characters take the spotlight. The film's attempt to infuse humor through Pete Davidson's character, Mirage, falls flat, lacking the wit that elevated the previous entry, “Bumblebee.” Furthermore, the sequel-focused storytelling, common among this summer's releases, does little to ignite enthusiasm after a movie that feels formulaic.
An Assembly-Line Experience Lacking Charm
Considering the franchise's origins in Hasbro toys and the '80s animated TV show, “Transformers” has always been a visual effects spectacle. However, “Rise of the Beasts” lacks the endearing charm of “Bumblebee” and fails to offer anything fresh. Despite a change in director, the film remains true to Michael Bay's established tone and style. While loyal fans may find some enjoyment in revisiting the series after a six-year hiatus, the film feels past its prime for a broader audience.
“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” falls short of its potential, relying heavily on impressive robot battles but failing to deliver a compelling story and engaging human characters. While the film showcases the technical achievements of visual effects, it lacks the wit and charm that elevated its predecessor. With an assembly-line feel and an attempt to set up future sequels, the film struggles to stand out. Only the most devoted Transformers enthusiasts may find enough reason to celebrate this latest installment.