Alex Reviews "Transformers: Rise of the Beasts"
In film, there are certain things that are unquestionably iconic: Vader’s reveal in Empire Strikes Back, The Rocky Theme aka Gonna Fly Now, “You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat” in Jaws, and many more. On this list for me is Peter Cullen’s command of “Autobots, roll out!” With that being established, it is no surprise that I love the Transformers, but what may surprise you is that at the halfway point of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts I was already thinking of this review and how I would bury the lead that this is the best movie in the series by far…then the second half of the movie happened. Make no mistakes. This is still an incredibly fun experience and among the best Hasbro films ever made but allow me to explain.
With five different writers, the inconsistency became too much to remain fully immersed in the story. I would bet that the opening scene (awesome) and first act (brilliant) were the only parts of Joby Harold’s (Obi-Wan Kenobi) original story to escape rewrites relatively unscathed. Had the picture maintained this same energy, the film would join the billion-dollar club easily. It probably will still do amazing business with kids and foreign markets as all Transformers films do, but the odd shifts will keep it from being universally beloved.
A more seasoned director might have been able to overcome the odd shifts in storytelling and dialogue, but Steven Caple, Jr. (Creed II) had his hands full ensuring that the action played well beyond the story issues. To his credit, that portion of the movie is shot perfectly and only struggles when the scale of the film becomes astronomically large towards the climax of the picture.
While he handled shooting the film well, any Transformers film succeeds or fails with animation and sound. Rise of the Beasts is light years ahead of its predecessors in depth, clarity, and sharpness. Good thing it is, because the difficulty level that the Maximals present could have been an albatross for the picture. It is odd to say something like this, but I would not be shocked if this is 2023’s surprise nominee in the Sound, Visual Effects, and Animation categories.
Anthony Ramos is a star and owns this movie. The aforementioned amazing first act is given depth, heart, and life by his ability to make the audience feel for and root for him almost immediately. His performance is the one thing that stays true throughout the picture, and I hope to see him be given more starring roles like this one.
Dominique Fishback (The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey) is unfortunately the biggest victim of the odd shifts to the story. Being tough and brilliant to start the picture, then suddenly coming across far less competent, even awkward, after the midpoint of the film. I would like to clarify that there is little doubt in my mind that this was script or direction driven as her delivery was natural and well done with only the content/portrayal giving dissonance to earlier scenes.
While every voice acting talent crushed their part, I would like to highlight Pete Davidson as being the most likeable that I have ever seen or heard him. Apparently, the trick is to not see him, but to just let him be himself with an animated avatar. Credit to the casting director as I cringed hearing that he was cast in a critical role, but he was absolutely perfect in as both comic relief and balance for the more serious animated actors.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts should be seen in a premium format as soon as possible after release on June 9th as it is the prototypical fun, summer blockbuster. Grab your popcorn, turn off your brain and enjoy. Just make sure you avoid spoilers and don’t leave too early.