Review: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts – Real Beast Wars

Fans of Transformers have had many different movies to watch of varying degrees of quality. Ultimately, these movies are all about action scenes and computer effects that add even more action scenes to marvel at. There’s very little in terms of storytelling to chew on, especially if you’re hoping for deep or complex plots to follow. That’s not what anyone comes to Transformers movies for. What audiences want from these films is robots in disguise battling it out for the fate of the universe, and the latest movie in the series, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, delivers just that. But this time, fans of the classic CGI cartoon Beast Wars get to join in on the fun, with a few extra surprises as well.

The plot here revolves around another MacGuffin from Cybertron that the Autobots need to find before their enemies get a hold of it. That object is the Transwarp Key, an item that can help transport Optimus Prime and his Autobots back home to Cybertron. The key was originally held by the Maximals, a group of robots that traveled to various planets to help build up life around the universe until the dreaded Unicron and his Terrorcons arrived to consume their planet. The Maximals fled to Earth and hid the Transwarp Key from the Terrorcons, lying dormant and hidden for hundreds of years. That is until one day in 1994, a young museum intern named Elena triggers the activation of the Transwarp Key, signaling the Terrorcons to pursue it. The Autobots enlist the help of an ex-military electronics expert named Noah to help them find and get the key, which has them come together with the Maximals in their fight against Unicron and the Terrorcons.

For some viewers, the plot will feel jam-packed with many details that don’t always come together. There are a lot of characters that are included, but many of them don’t have enough time to be fleshed out or the backstory explained, which may or may not work in some cases. Often they’re just there to be part of the major fights and look cool on screen, as well as give the nod to classic Transformers or Beast Wars characters.

The story mostly follows Noah (played by Anthony Ramos) from start to finish, giving a reason for his involvement with the Autobots. Noah has a sick brother and a struggling family to take care of in the harsh world of 1994, which briefly puts him on the wrong path. Eventually, he comes around and does the right thing, helping the Autobots and doing his part to save his world from the threat of Unicron and the Terracons.

On the other hand, Elena, played by Dominique Fishback is the other human character that has a purpose in all of this. However, her story doesn’t feel as emotional or impactful as Noah, where her struggle is to break out of being an intern at the museum she works for. Her talents are wasted and often taken advantage of by her boss until she triggers events that lead to a meeting with the Autobots. By the time her story wraps up at the end, it feels less important than Noah’s story, let alone everything happening with the giant robots. The same can be said for the rest of the human cast, who either make brief appearances early on and disappear, or only play a small part throughout the film that never feels anything beyond cheesy or shallow.

The humor of the film will also be a divisive point for many. Not every joke lands well, especially the more racially charged humor. Some of the banter between the giant robots may get a chuckle out of you, but unless you’re ok with the silly humor from the 90s you might not care for it. Noah and Elena have some humorous moments as well, but they too suffer from cheesy or awkward jokes that might not be for everyone. The Transformers movies never got their funny moments quite right or had anything that was universally viewed as humorous by everyone, and this movie is no different. You either get the jokes and laugh at them or you won’t. Luckily, there’s always an action scene or big moment with the plot shortly after to keep things moving and not linger on the awkwardness.

The Autobots and Maximals are voiced by a variety of actors and actresses, with some doing a better job than others at portraying the robots in disguise. Peter Cullen once does the iconic voice of Optimus Prime, who is hardened by the burden of leadership and getting his squad home. His voice is a staple of these movies and delivers in the right ways.

The rest of the Autobots will be either hit or miss with most viewers, despite some of them having more time to put their personalities on full display. Pete Davidson plays Mirage, a charismatic Autobot that tries hard to be hip with Noah and everyone else. Ron Perlman plays Optimus Primal, the leader of the Maximals who is bound by honor to preserve life at any cost. And Michelle Yeoh voices Airazor, one of Optimus Primal’s Maximal allies and a warrior who continuously fights the Terrorcons. Each of them does a solid job voicing their respective roles, but it may be hard for some viewers to accept some of the more famous voices as the characters. Often it feels like Michelle Yeoh is talking rather than an alien warrior from another world, and the same can be said for Pete Davidson’s Mirage.

The rest of the voice cast is far less impactful, despite their characters appearing on screen and fighting often during the movie. Scourge is the leader of the Terrorcons, voiced by Peter Dinklage, and doesn’t stand out more than a big baddy for Optimus Prime to duke it out with. Though he speaks multiple times in the film, we don’t really get much from him outside of the one-liners and evil dialogue when facing the Autobots and Maximals.

The same can also be said for Unicron, who is supposed to be the major threat of the movie but doesn’t do much throughout. Unicron is voiced by Colman Domingo and has only a few scenes where he gets to shine, with a lot of it being in flashbacks or brief moments around the climax of the film. We only get to see Unicron devastate an older planet, and never see him transform into his cartoon robot form. For some Transformers fans, this will be enough, but there could have been more done with the character to make his ominous presence direr.

The big battles of the film definitely deliver in terms of spectacle and explosions. There are plenty of scenes where each Autobot and Maximal gets to show off their weapons and fighting prowess, with a few goofy moments that still look cool. With most of the Maximals, we don’t get a lot of their backstory or personality, but we do get to see them fight plenty of enemies in combat and work together as a unit. Getting to see the Autobots and Maximals run into battle together is something long-time Transformers and Beast Wars fans will love, mashing together two parts of their childhoods into something that looks awesome. The final battle does inject surprises that you won’t see coming, but the very final part of the climax does feel somewhat underwhelming in comparison. How things are wrapped up could have been done in a grander fashion, or at least match up to the beginning and middle of the final battle.

In the context of the Transformers films, this movie does seem to be inconsequential. But when viewed as a reboot of the series, things are a lot more promising. This is especially true for the final reveal at the very end that hints at the future of the movie series. There are little hints throughout the film that you won’t notice at first, but most people will not be expecting what is shown after everything comes to an end. If you know the history of the Transformers series, both in the cartoons and the comics, you’ll be very intrigued by what is over the horizon. For everyone else, however, it won’t be as impactful, despite being interesting for where things might go.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts delivers exactly what it promises. If you want giant robots fighting each other in high-stakes action, then you won’t be disappointed by what is offered here. What the movie promises by the end of the story will be enough to make you excited for what comes next, but only if you’re someone who is already a fan of these films and a fan of the Transformers franchise. Those outside of that group will only see a surface-level action movie that won’t have the same kind of weight it does for long-time fans. The computer effects look fantastic and the battles are incredible, but not much has changed beyond that for these movies that you haven’t already seen before.

What do you think of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts? Did you grow up watching the Beast Wars cartoon or following the Transformers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
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    Transformers: Rise of the Beasts - 60%


This movie has great CG effects and action scenes that look great on screen. Unfortunately the story will be hit or miss with most people, especially if you’re not a big fan of Transformers already. The voice acting for the giant robots is good in some cases and mediocre in others. A surprise stinger at the end promises big things to come, but might not be as impactful for many who don’t know the history of the Transformers.

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Jakejames Lugo

Jakejames Lugo is a writer and content creator that has been covering video games, movies, and various sides of entertainment for over a decade. He has published reviews and articles on many different outlets and continues to make content for different platforms. Jakejames also makes video content regularly for places like YouTube and TikTok, and share daily posts about gaming on social media.

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