Steven’s Review: “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts”

After a number of delays, “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” has finally seen release in theaters. Picking up where the 2018 surprise hit “Bumblebee” left off, the film marks another satisfying sequel that ranks among the best theatrical installments in the franchise.

The main story takes place in the year 1994, seven years after the events of “Bumblebee.” As a young man named Noah (Anthony Ramos, “In the Heights”) is trying to make ends meet to help his single mother (Luna Lauren Velez) and his ill younger brother Kris (Dean Scott Vasquez); he ends up coming across the incognito Autobot Mirage (voice of Pete Davidson). 

After forming a reluctant alliance with Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen); the Autobots lead him and young archivist Elena (Dominique Fishback) on an adventure that takes them from New York City to Peru over the course of the film’s 117-minute runtime. As the planet is threatened by the massive Unicron (voice of Colman Domingo) and his underling Scourge (voice of Peter Dinklage); the Autobots must team with Optimus Primal (voice of Ron Perlman) alongside the other Maximals to save the Earth from disaster.

Using the combination of the 1990s setting and characters from the much-loved series “Beast Wars” (which ran from 1996 to 1999), the film captures the best elements of the previous live-action movies along with the toys and cartoons that acted as their source material. 

The film’s tone and visuals have been influenced by 1990s summer blockbusters such as “The Fugitive” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” The soundtrack contains a wide variety of classic hip-hop music from artists such as Digable Planets, LL Cool J and the Notorious B.I.G. 

While not the breath of fresh air “Bumblebee” gave to the series, this film has still taken more cues from the original source material than any of the main films from Michael Bay. Though this sequel is still produced by his company Bayhem Films, director Steven Caple Jr (“Creed II”) has been able to infuse a different flavor of action and humor to the series. Without spoiling anything, the movie not only sets a solid foundation for future “Transformers” films; but for all future Hasbro adaptations (an animated origin story, “Transformers One” is currently slated for 2024).

Overall, “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” is an optimal and prime blockbuster sequel to continue the summer season. With this marking the seventh-live action film in the franchise (and the eighth since 1986’s “The Transformers: The Movie”), the right hands still prove there is more to the series than meets the eye.

Directed by Steven Caple Jr. (Based on the action figures by Hasbro)

Starring Anthony Ramos and Dominque Fishback with the voices of Peter Cullen, Ron Perlman, Pete Davidson, Michelle Yeoh, David Sobolov, Tongayi Chirisa, John Dimaggio, Liza Koshy, Peter Dinklage, Michaela Jae Rodriguez and Colman Domingo

Rated PG-13

My Rating: ****1/2:5

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