Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Media Screening Review

The battle for life is showcased in director Steven Caple Jr’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. The scene opens with the Maximals, an advanced race of Cybertronians with beast modes; their home is attacked by the planet-eating dark god Unicron. Its leader, Apelinq, sacrifices himself to enable his people to escape the planet before it’s consumed. Under the command of Optimus Primal, a mechanical gorilla, the remaining Maximals use a sophisticated intelligence key that helps them flee to Earth. 

Fast forward to 1994 Brooklyn, New York, ex-military electronics expert Noah Diaz is desperate to secure a job to help his brother, who suffers from sickle cell, continue receiving his medication and support his single mother. When he gets turned down for a position, he reluctantly seeks alternative measures through his friend Reek but gets more than he bargained for. Whilst attempting to steal a Porsche, he’s surprised to discover it’s Mirage, one of the Autobots in disguise who had been told to stay hidden.

After Noel attempts to get the key to help the Autobots return home to Cybertron and meets Elena, who has the key, the two become involved in the conflict between the Maximals, Autobots and Terrorcons. During the battle, Scourge using his army of Predacon drones to hunt down the two humans, snatches the key and kills our beloved Bumblebee, who fought ferociously but is overpowered. Autobots perennial leader, Optimus Prime, blames himself for Bumblebee’s demise and swears to destroy Scourge.

Thankfully, the captured key was only the first half of the complete set. Airazor, the mechanical falcon and the Maximals’ ‘eye in the sky’ explains they had been hiding on Earth for thousands of years and split the key in two to keep it out of Unicron’s hands. The collective group seeks to find the other half, which Elena believes is hidden in a temple in Peru. They are escorted by Stratosphere, the Autobot air soldier who transforms into a Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar. 

Locally stationed Autobot Wheeljack, who served as Optimus Primes top scientist during the early years of the Autobot-Deception conflict, leads them to the ancient Inca Empire site. Excited to see Wheeljack speaking with a Spanish accent, Noel tries out his linguistics, but the Autobot gets offended and calls him racist. A baffled Noel is confused by this accusation. Incidentally, Wheeljack is voiced by Mexican actor and former professional football player Cristóbal Fernández.

While Noel and Elena look for the key, the Terrorcons attack again, and Scourge infects Airazor with Unicrons dark energy. The Autobots meet Optimus Primal and the other Maximals, who explain the key was moved and entrusted to a human tribe. As the infection engulfs her being, Airazor goes berserk, and Optimus Primal makes the tough decision to kill her. After the other half of the key is handed over, Noel attempts to destroy it but is stopped by Optimus Prime. Scourge scoots by and steals it.

With the complete key in his hand, Scourge reassembles the two halves atop a volcano opening a portal above Earth through which Unicron will arrive. The devastated Maximals, Autobots and the two humans must find another way to stop the destruction of Earth. They devise a plan with Noah and Elena sneaking close to the Transwarp Key to deactivate it with an access code Elena discovered. At the same time, the Autobots and Maximals battle the Terrorcons and Predacons. However, it partially goes to plan.

Critical moments in the film were Mirage’s poses after transforming into an Autobot (my new favourite after Bumblebee); the one-liner jokes; Mirage transforming his damaged body into a powered exo-suit for Noel after getting gravely wounded in battle; Arcee’s slow-motioned glide while holding onto Wheeljack’s converted VW van in a vehicle chase and avoiding getting blasted by the rockets; and Bumblebee’s miraculous return to life to LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out which the audience erupted into applaud. 

Although playing a lesser role, the giant mechanical cat, Cheetor’s gracious strides and fast run are a joy to watch. Rhinox, the raging rhino races along the rocky plains, and Airazor’s humble persona make you love these primal beasts. Optimus Primal, the largest of the four Maximals, takes charge, swinging from tree to tree and covering extensive distances to reach his target. Optimus Prime, who can be hard-headed and stubborn, realises when he is wrong and will humbly admit his mistakes. 

This wonderfully executed film has fast action, battle clashes, laughs, sorrow, elements of surprise, terror and on-the-edge-of-your-seat anticipation and excitement. Anthony Ramos’ and Dominique Fishback’s Noel and Elena are excellent human allies whose bravery in dangerous situations is unprecedented. Pete Davidson, who voices Mirage, is funny, likeable, slick and smooth. He’s the type of Autobot you’d want as a BFF and a protector. Seeing my lovable Bumblebee who kicked arse near the end was a pleasure.

The final scenes will give you an ‘aha’ moment and realising why Noah didn’t get the security job initially. Also, something metal Reek regarded as junk and unfixable reveals itself to be in good working order. Watch the film to find out!


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