Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
Stars: Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Luna Lauren Velez, Dean Scott Vazquez, & voices of Peer Cullen, Liza Koshy, Michelle Yeoh, Pete Davidson, Liza Koshy
The seventh instalment of the Transformers ‘franchise’ (dread word) skips forward seven years from the surprisingly okay 1987-set ‘Bumblebee. The jump does not signal, thankfully, a return to the clanging obnoxiousness of prior instalments, but the whole enterprise is starting to feel tired and worn.
A prologue outlines how planet-gobbling baddie Unicron and chief henchman Scourge (Dinklage) fail to secure a space-time conduit device from the planet’s natives, mechanised animals the Maximals, some of who escape to prehistoric Earth before their planet is destroyed, taking the device with them.
Cut to 1994 Manhattan replete with a bangin’ 90s hip-hop soundtrack and copious shots of the Twin Towers, which may cause some viewers to worry/dread that the makers are going to try and incorporate 9/11 in the saga. Brooklyn-dwelling ex-military electronics expert Noah Diaz (Ramos from ‘In the Heights’) is struggling to find work in order to support his single mother Breanna (Velez) and younger brother Kris (Vazquez). Meanwhile, keen and bright but under-appreciated museum intern Elena (Fishback) finds a bird sculpture among the fresh arrivals which turns out to be one half of the Maximals’ conduit device. Shortly after Noah is cajoled into stealing a Porsche only to find it is in fact street-talking prankster bot Mirage (Davidson). Elena and Noah are thrown together when Unicron’s minions attack the museum looking for the device. The Transformers, headed by chief bot Optimus Prime (Cullen), arrive to save the day, and soon the two humans are joining the bots on their quest to Peru in search of the other part of the artefact with Scourge on their tail.
While this episode lacks the small-scale comparatively charming E.T.-ish vibe of ‘Bumblebee’, the leads are likeable enough, even if they are side-lined midway in favour of the dreary bots. Optimus is a stentorian-voiced buzzkill as usual, and Mirage is an annoyingly loudmouthed Poochie-like ‘cool’ sidekick. Of the voice cast, Liza Koshy is the most poorly served with the stock role of the spunky girl powered Arcee.
Unlike the cursed relentless Michael Bay-helmed episodes, the action sequences are mostly coherently-edited and the story, while daft, is at least easy to follow. Unlike the earlier unwieldy vehicles, this clocks in at a tolerable two hours, excluding the credits.
The final scene moots a cross over with another IP.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is released on 8th June
Follow David on Twitter at @DWill_Crackfilm