The latest Transformers movie is one of the franchise’s best yet says Kevin Bourne in his Transformers: Rise of the Beasts review.
Set in 1990’s New York City, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts tells the story of the Autobots who must unify with the Maximals, a new faction of Transformers, to defeat the dark god Unicron and Scourge, leader of the Terrorcons. Also standing in Unicron’s way are Brooklyn natives Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos), an unemployed ex-military with a knack for gadgets, and Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback), a museum intern and aspiring archeologist. Together, they go on an unexpected globetrotting mission, alongside the Autobots and Maximals, on a quest to save both of their worlds.
Directed by Steven Caple Jr., who steps into the shoes of Michael Bay and Travis Knight, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is the seventh installment in the Transformers franchise and a follow up to Bumblebee (2018). Where Bumblebee was set in the 80’s, Rise of the Beasts’ 90’s New York City roots lends to a soundtrack with a healthy dose of Golden Era hip-hop, including Wu-tang Clan, who is apparently for the Autobots and not just the children (a little hip-hop head humor).
There are nods to 90’s hip-hop and R&B throughout the film providing some head bobbing, smile inducing nostalgia for hip-hop and R&B heads alike. So much so that the opening scene may leave viewers wondering if they’re watching the right movie.
As you would expect from a Transformers movie, there are a lot of special effects, but the story is where this film shines. The screenplay, written by Joby Harold, Darnell Metayer, Josh Peters, Erich Hoeber, and Jon Hoeber, is just well-written, plain and simple. Steeped in hip-hop, New York and Latin culture, the dialogue between humans and robots is as realistic as it can get, while navigating cultural differences as well as the differences between robots and humans. Adding the extra layer of culture and ethnicity makes this addition to the franchise even more rich. It will be refreshing for Black and Latin viewers to see our culture front and centre in a long running global action movie franchise. Yes, that’s us in a big action movie. Diversity and inclusion for the win.
This wouldn’t be possible without Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback who not only bring some Latin-American and African American flavour to the franchise, but showed they were more than capable in stepping into the shoes of previous leads. Both and Ramos and Fishback were believable in portraying normal, everyday people turned heroes with the responsibility of saving the world. This is probably the most realistic, relatable, and believable Transformers movie so far.
What made their characters even more special is that unlike previous leads in the franchise, they are presented as equals who develop a strong friendship, instead of just being a hot and steamy couple, and Fishback, as the female lead, is intelligent and not overly sexualized. The relatability of these characters takes Transformers from being just an out of this world action movie to one with realism where viewers can really connect with the story and root for characters they can see themselves in.
Overall, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is one of the franchise’s best yet. Where some fans have been vocal about wanting less human elements and more focus on the Transformers themselves, the realism that we see on screen makes this not just a great action movie, but a great movie period, and watching the Autobots interact with a new set of Transformers in the Maximals will leave long time fans of the franchise more than happy.
Whether you’ve never seen a Transformers movie before or not, if you’re a fan of great action, special effects and hip-hop culture with a great story, this movie is one to watch.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts opens July 9th.