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Rise of the Beasts review (2023) - Autobots, give us nothing!

The new transformers movie is here, and we're here to tell you what to expect from Optimus Prime and Bumblebee's newest robotic adventure in the action movie.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts review: Mirage in Rise of the Beasts

Our Verdict

Inoffensive and digestible, Rise of the Beasts is a Transformers movie that could have stood to pack more of a robotic punch.

Back when I was a fresh-faced and bouncy university student in the midst of my (pause for effect) Film Production and Cinematography degree, I got the opportunity to work as a runner on Transformers: The Last Knight while they were filming in the UK.

My “golly gee”-ing and “right away, boss”-style enthusiasm waned slightly after spending three days in the pouring rain, getting yelled at by the Transformers production managers, and when the most exciting encounter gained was standing within arm’s reach of Mark Wahlberg’s stunt double. (That’s show business, folks.)

But watching the newest installment of the action movie franchise, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, almost made me yearn to stand in the mud at five o’clock in the morning because, at least back then, I felt something.

Rise of the Beasts marks the seventh installment of the Transformers franchise that began back in 2007 under the watchful eye of Michael Bay. With plenty of ‘splosions, envy-inducing cars, and saturated colors, the Transformers movies served audiences with a healthy dosage of earnest, sometimes bombastic, entertainment.

But now we’re here, sixteen years later, and if you’d have told me a couple of years ago that I would witness Hamilton’s son attempt to rescue Optimus Prime while a robotic rhino gallops around in the background, I’d have probably nodded my head and said, “…But will it have a boppy ‘90s soundtrack?”

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Rise of the Beasts is a quasi-action movie, adventure movie hybrid, that follows Noah (Anthony Ramos) as he stumbles across some Autobot antics. Meanwhile, the other necessary human insert in the story, Elena (Dominique Fishback), is an intern at a museum that happens across some ancient artifacts. One of which, crucially, is a Transwarp Key for the Autobots and their evil Terrorcon counterparts.

(If you’re wondering how this factors into your space robot movie, don’t worry, the prologue will hurriedly explain it to you.)

Among the cast of robotic characters are some of our old reliables; Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), Bumblebee, and some new animal-Autobot hybrids dubbed ‘Maximals’. Together, they work to locate the Transwarp Key to protect the universe (that pesky universe, always getting into trouble) and send the Autobots home.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts review

The first half of the movie is notably stronger than the latter, and while the ‘90s New York setting struggles to find any real significance or impact, a soundtrack that capitalizes on cool nostalgia and an admittedly nifty car chase does set something of a tone that unfortunately never comes to fruition.

Anthony Ramos is the only source of charisma in Rise, but the movie doesn’t really know what to do with him. He ends up relegated to a cookie-cutter action star outline that doesn’t suit him, and it would have worked better to let him try something a little more offbeat and capitalize on the charm that he does possess.

Rise of the Beasts review: Anthony Ramos as Noah in Rise of the Beasts

Any semblance of backstory that would let us connect with the characters more is shoved aside and never divulged aside from in passing. At least with this, the movie is trying to fulfill its most basic of Hasbro promises: Big robots go boom. It would be fair to say that the Autobot battles in Rise, while lackluster in parts, will likely satisfy the most easily pleased of Transformers fans.

But by the end of the movie, it can’t be denied that everyone looks (and sounds) tired. The final fight sequence is forgettable and could have probably been out-crafted by a child sitting on their living room floor bashing Transformers toys together with their bare hands.

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Rusty action scenes pasted together with oatmeal dialogue, Rise of the Beasts is not going to be one of the best movies of the year. Thankfully, it comes before the blockbuster onslaught of Mission Impossible 7, Barbie, and Oppenheimer, so at the very least, it can act as a low-risk warm-up for the big workout soon to come.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts releases in theaters on June 9, 2023. If you want to know how to watch Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, we’ve got you covered.

To see what we thought of the other new movies out now, check out our reviews for The Little Mermaid, Fast X, and Across the Spider-Verse.