Transformers: Rise of the Beasts – A Solid Blockbuster [REVIEW]

“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” – Reviewing the Latest Blockbuster in the Series. Did the Change in Director Work Wonders?

Michal Kaczon

29 June 2024


Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is already the seventh live-action feature film based on the famous series of toys by Hasbro and animations depicting the adventures of extraterrestrial beings that look like beautiful and fast cars. How did the latest installment of this meandering blockbuster series fare? Here’s my review.

Transformers movies are either a great, fast-paced, over-the-top, and carefree fun, or absolutely terrible, indigestible, character-overloaded, and script-chaos monsters. There is nothing in between. The problem is that you never know which film you will get this time. After all, alongside the excellent first and third parts, we also got the terrible and indigestible second and fifth parts (Revenge of the Fallen and The Last Knight) and the somewhere-in-between “fourth” installment, Age of Extinction, which could only be watched with a mocking delight. The best of the live-action series was Bumblebee, which served as both a spin-off and a sort of reboot of the series, taking the action back to the 80s. From Travis Knight’s film, we learned how the favorite yellow Autobot came to Earth and got his nickname, and the 2018 production turned out to be perhaps the most human and engaging part of the series. So, how does Rise of the Beasts fit into this setup? Let’s find out.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” – A Sequel to the Spin-Off and a Reboot of the Main Series


Directed by Steven Caple Jr., the director of Creed II, this film is both a continuation of Bumblebee and a reboot of the main series. The action takes place in 1994 in New York, almost a decade after the events of the film with Hailee Steinfeld (the character is briefly mentioned in one scene), and also most likely before the events of the original trilogy with Shia LaBeouf. The continuity with the films starring Mark Wahlberg is interesting because a casual remark about Marky Mark, the actor’s 90s musical alter ego, suggests that the events of Age of Extinction and The Last Knight did not take place in this universe at all. This is not surprising, as this is what a reboot is supposed to do (showing familiar characters in a completely new story, yet within the known world), prompted by the mediocre results – both box office-wise and fan ratings – of the aforementioned films.

A Simple Story, Skillful Execution

Although Rise of the Beasts is a reboot, the story in the new film follows a well-known and tested path. We meet a new threat that could lead to the destruction of the universe, as well as heroes trying to hide the latest MacGuffin, an object that drives the plot, from the villain. This time, it is an artifact that can cause interplanetary destruction if it falls into the wrong hands. The main change is that this time the good characters are robotic animals, the Maximals, and the bad ones are planet-devouring Scourge and his band of evil Terrorcons. When the action moves to Earth, the Autobots also appear in the film, and we meet two human characters – the resourceful Noah (a good Anthony Ramos) and Elena (a decent Dominique Fishback) – an assistant curator at the Ellis Island Museum. Noah is characterized by his dedication and love for his younger brother, while Elena is driven by her desire to prove herself to her boss and become a true treasure hunter and curator. When fate throws them into the middle of an interplanetary affair, these qualities will make them decide to participate in a dangerous mission.


The plot is simple and familiar, but after all, the complexity of the script is not the main lure of the Transformers series. What matters here are dynamic execution, good special effects, moments reminiscent of the best car commercials, humor arising from the character differences between humans and robots, a catchy soundtrack that makes your foot tap to the beat, and decent, unobtrusive acting. The difference in quality between the films lies in how well these elements harmonize with each other.

Bye, bye Mr. Bay

The mix presented by Steven Caple Jr. is exceptionally well-crafted, engaging, and dynamic. Everything is in its right place. The plot follows a clear thread, and each event has its consequences in later parts of the film. It’s significant that Rise of the Beasts is the second shortest film in the series, only surpassed by Bumblebee, which is about three minutes shorter. This prevents the story from being unnecessarily bloated with scenes that don’t necessarily drive the action forward. Here, most scenes are meaningful to the story being told.

A key factor for the better reception of the film seems to be Michael Bay’s reduced involvement in the production. The famous director, after making five parts of the saga, handed the reins to younger colleagues who had a chance to inject new energy into the series, while Bay remains just one of the producers. The new creators – Travis Knight and Steven Caple Jr. – simply remember why even the most minimal story and well-defined characters are so important in action films based on special effects. This is so little, yet so much at the same time. In Michael Bay’s films, the spectacle seemed to overwhelm other elements, making the last installments of the series devoid of a realistic, tangible stake. Here, the motivations are simple but clear. And they exist.


“Playing Along, Pete!” – A Few Words About the Acting

Besides the good roles of Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback, the voice cast members also shine on screen. Besides the excellent Peter Cullen, who once again passionately plays Optimus Prime, Pete Davidson stands out in the latest film (is it just me, or is this guy in every major blockbuster franchise lately?). The American actor is particularly convincing, giving his Mirage a laid-back and roguish character and a unique kind of humor that just works in his performance. Additionally, Davidson modulates his voice so interestingly that it took me a few scenes to realize where I knew that specific timbre from. Also, Oscar-winner Michelle Yeoh, for her role in Everything Everywhere All at Once, shines as the voice of the “robotic owl” Airazor from the Maximals. Yeoh brings a caring and inquisitive tone to her character, which resonates well from the speakers. Ron Perlman as Optimus Primal and Peter Dinklage as Scourge are also good, though their performances don’t stand out as much as those of Davidson and Yeoh. The voice cast is truly solid, and some lines are delivered exceptionally well.

The Twin Towers

The new film’s action takes place in 1994 in New York, meaning the city’s skyline scenes prominently feature the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. This fact sparked a significant reaction among fans when the famous buildings appeared in one of the trailers, leading to a heated online debate. Some saw it as excessive and unnecessary “exploitation of the 9/11 tragedy,” while others praised the team, emphasizing that 22 years have passed since those events and it’s time to start depicting this iconic element of the city’s pre-2001 landscape. They also noted that more filmmakers would probably begin to link real historical events with supernatural elements, as has happened with the assassination of John F. Kennedy, which has already appeared in several science fiction films (Does anyone remember that Magneto tried to prevent JFK’s assassination in X-Men: Days of Future Past?).


However, it’s worth mentioning that in the finished film, although a dark cloud gathers over the city, the specific shot that shocked Americans is not visible. The fear that the filmmakers would destroy New York and the Twin Towers themselves – as they did with Chicago in Dark of the Moon – was therefore unfounded. On the other hand, prominently showing such a famous location so closely tied to American history could mean that the creators might want to tackle this topic in future installments of the series. How and if they will address it, we’ll find out in the next Transformers films.

“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” – Reviewing the Newest Blockbuster Series Installment

The new film in the blockbuster series is definitely one of the best episodes of the saga. All the elements of a good Transformers blockbuster are in place here, and the plot clearly and straightforwardly leads us through the story. The narrative has well-defined boundaries, the characters have distinct traits, and the film has a clearly defined direction. There is none of the chaos that characterized the last two productions directed by Michael Bay, allowing viewers to get exactly what they came for – well-shot battles of giant robots. Sometimes it takes so little to make a blockbuster good!


It’s also pleasantly surprising that even though the plot isn’t particularly groundbreaking, the creators managed to incorporate a few new elements and ideas that expand the well-known world with some intriguing new rules. In this context, the exceptional relationship between Mirage and Noah is particularly noteworthy, but I’ll stop here to avoid giving too much away.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts remains one of the most mainstream creations you’ll see in cinemas, but it also reminds us why we liked the Transformers films in the first place. It doesn’t tire, irritate, or test the patience and senses of the viewer. It’s simply balanced, well-thought-out, and light, easy, and enjoyable. An ideal reset for the brain that can enjoy watching colorful action sequences. A fun story! Simply put.

Michal Kaczon

Michal Kaczon

A cultural journalist and a fan of pop culture in its various forms. A lover of film and music festivals, where he is a frequent and enthusiastic participant. He sometimes treats the cinema as a second home.

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