The Transformers franchise is such a strange one, much maligned by critics over the years since Michael Bay helmed a live action debut back in 2007, yet able to make an absolute killing at the box-office. Some are absolutely detestable while others are really great, Bumblebee being the best of the bunch, and Rise of the Beasts looks to carry on that good form this summer.

Optimus Prime and the Autobots take on their biggest challenge yet. When a new threat capable of destroying the entire planet emerges, they must team up with a powerful faction of Transformers known as the Maximals to save Earth.
Rise of the Beasts is solid summer blockbuster fun, Steven Caple Jr. delivering a film that has its heart in the right place, even if the execution is a bit too loud and clunky at times. If you took away some of the heart Bumblebee possessed and added in some classic Michael Bay smashturbation to the film's finale, you would get Rise of the Beasts. The film focuses on the bond between Anthony Ramos' Noah and Pete Davidson's Mirage, the most welcome new addition to the roster, as they journey across the world together to stop the end of the planet as we know it. While it isn't as sweet as Bumblebee, it provides the film with a narrative to get behind for the better.

The MacGuffin that drives the plot forward is as generic as they come for a Transformers film but that's not what we're all here to see. It's all about giant robots smashing the crap out of each other and Rise of the Beasts delivers copious amounts of that. It threatens to become all too overwhelming in the finale, as planet-devouring Unicron sets its sights on Earth, yet it manages to be far more coherent and enjoyable than the nonsensical shit Michael Bay produced in his latter films in the franchise.

These films have never been lauded for their intelligent dialogue but this film never walks the line of becoming insufferable thanks to better supporting characters and rather decent jokes. Listen out for a line from Mirage that brought the house down at my screening. The effects are pretty spectacular throughout as Autobots unite with the Maximals, while the score from Jongnic Bontemps feels unforgettable at best, the use of Steve Jablonsky's iconic theme in the finale a reminder of what we are missing out on.
The human characters have always been the least interesting aspect of these films, unless care is taken with their arcs like they were in Bumblebee. Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback are pretty good here, Ramos as a man at a crossroads in his life trying to provide medical care for his little brother and Fishback as an artifact researcher dreaming of getting credit for a major archaeological discovery. They aren't as one-dimensional as some characters that have come before and provide the film with easy characters to root for. As for the robots in disguise, Pete Davidson serves as the film's MVP as Mirage, Bumblebee proves to be a fan favourite yet again, while Optimus Prime carries on being a major psychopath. The bad guys are as disposable as they come here, Peter Dinklage's Scourge feeling like a bit of an Ultron knock-off.

While Rise of the Beasts isn't as good as Bumblebee, it certainly ranks higher than four of the films in the franchise. Not exactly a high bar to reach in all honesty but this proves to be great over-the-top fun, even if the final scene teaser doesn't fill me with much hope at all for where they might take this.

Verdict: ½


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