Imagine a world where the animal kingdom is not what it seems. In “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” there was high anticipation for a thrilling clash between biomechanical and robotic animals, locked in an epic battle against formidable villains led by the menacing Scourge, a Decepticon in a bid to save the universe as it should be particularly with the title.
Let’s face it, we have faced past disappointments with other Transformers series, Transformers: Age of Extinction in 2014 left a bitter taste with its drawn-out storyline. Although, in 2018, the Bumblebee prequel had a glimpse of hope. It was by far the best of the Transformers franchise.
Now, with over 4 years of preparation and with a Box office of $171 million, one would have expected the Transformers: Rise of the Beasts to carry on this momentum, to be the crowning achievement of recent Transformers films. However, it fell short due to a lack of clear direction in both plot and character development.
The series was directed by Steven Caple Jr, and produced by the famous Michael Bay, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Duncan Henderson, Tom DeSanto, Don Murphy, and Mark Vahradian.
The Plot- Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
As the title suggests, we expected a thrilling adaptation of the animated series “Beast Wars.” However, the movie took a different path as the Rise of the Beast is not an entire adaptation of the storyline from Beast Wars. In fact, not all the characters are fully represented. So, that asks the question, Why tease us with the beasts then?
The series follows the familiar storyline of Autobots venturing across the globe, adorned in gleaming metal, as they embark on a mission to safeguard the universe from imminent destruction, a pattern common with other Transformers series. The promise of a captivating twist lies in the rise of the beasts, Maximals, introducing a new dynamic to the Transformers universe. Yet, disappointingly, this intriguing twist fails to materialize.
The year in the series, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts was 1999, embracing the ’90s theme, giving old fans a nostalgic rush with a sense of honour and a soundtrack that absolutely slapped. Honestly, the idea to infuse a New York retro vibe was spot-on, it just gave the experience some coolness.
And of course, there were the human interactions once again, although, the story was not focused on them as in Bumblebee. Anthony Ramos played Noah Diaz, a veteran with a knack for all things electronic, and Dominique Fishback, with the character, Elena, a history buff and museum intern.
But what made this instalment truly unique was the intimate connection between Optimus Prime and Noah Diaz. The producers must have loved the intimate connection Bumblebee had with Charlie and wanted to do something similar in “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.” As the movie unfolds, we witness a bond forming between Optimus Prime and Noah Diaz, a connection that goes beyond mere teamwork and taps into a shared emotional journey.
Missed opportunities in character development
The producers of “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” really missed a beat with this one by not showcasing the beasts more prominently. Although the film starts with an exciting action scene featuring the Maximals, which was very captivating, their presence is limited until the final scenes.
The Maximals, particularly Optimal Primal, the biomechanical gorilla who is their leader like Optimus Prime (could have had a better name like Optimal Primate, as the “Primal” aspect seems unclear) had some focus, more of him telling us his story with no visual representation.
While Airazor on the other hand, had significant screen time and served as the emotional centre of the team, although her transformation was never revealed as we never saw her again, which felt like a missed opportunity. Rhinox and Cheetor, on the other hand, remained in the background with minimal personality and storyline.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts also missed a significant opportunity to showcase the full-on transformation of the Maximals, which has always been a beloved aspect of the “Transformers” series. Unfortunately, there was very little focus on their cinematic portrayal of transformation throughout the movie.
While the Autobots kept transforming every now and then. This decision deprives fans of what they have always loved about the series: the exhilarating and visually stunning transformation sequences.
On the Autobots’ side, Miraje, a Porsche voiced by Pete Davidson, brought humour to the intense action scenes and formed a unique connection with Noah Diaz in an absurd manner. Other new Autobots were introduced with distinct characters and personalities, which felt unbalanced compared to the relatively bland portrayal of the Maximals especially as the focus should have been on the Maximals.
CGI needs some improvement
This is 2023, the age of advanced technology, I still feel a twinge of disappointment with this movie. It is the CGI for me. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t entirely terrible, I just felt it should have been mind-blowing. Some viewers are arguing that the 2007 series actually had better CGI, come on. comparing the CGI of a series from over 15 years to now, the AI and bolstering tech era?
Maybe it was the fact that the CGI just was not as interactive as it should be. It did not entirely blend in with the environment how can Optimus Primal splash water near the humans, and yet their bodies remain mysteriously dry? Are they water-resistant or something?
Also, the climax of the series was an epic battle but even amidst the chaos, something seemed off. The fight between Optimus Prime and Scourge had some sort of CGI glitches. The ending scene in general lacked enough light sparks literally that come when electrical cables and circuits are being tampered with or destroyed. It just felt fake.
The scene also unfolded on a monotonous grey terrain, with mechanized warriors blending into their dull surroundings. It just was not giving what it should be giving as even the sky seemed to mirror the desolation below, devoid of any vibrant hues. The lacklustre visuals kind of caused a missed opportunity that could have added a touch of magic.
The closing scene paired with the lacklustre visuals and packed with intense moments that felt hurried and disjointed, caused my eyes to struggle to keep up with the frantic flurry of events unfolding on the screen. The dulling colour also made it hard for me to even identify where the other maximals or autobots were, making it difficult to appreciate the individual moments.
Despite its flaws, the movie sort of highlights the ongoing need for emotional depth in computer-generated blockbusters. Finally, Kudos to whoever led the CGI team. At least they did one thing well because it would have been awful to not have the Twin Towers in New York especially as the year was dated far back to 1999.
What we think
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts falls into a middle ground where it neither excels nor fails. It had the potential to be something great but ultimately fell short of expectations. One aspect that was disappointing was the treatment of female characters.
Elena and Airazor were sidelined, with Elena having fewer tasks and limited dialogue, and Airazor never reaching her full potential. It is frustrating that the series introduces fake death scenarios for certain characters but fails to give Airazor the same opportunity.
Maybe, just maybe, if we had more time, we could have seen more because towards the end it felt as if all the actions were happening all at once. Confusion as to where your eyes should focus on. In fact, apart from Optimus Primal, the other two Maximal beasts were nowhere to be found.
Anyways, this might be an entry into a continuing franchise of the Predacons in the coming years because the producers of the series better give them the shine they deserve because we did not see it in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.
See or Skip?
It is not the best Transformer series but it is definitely not the worst. If you are a die-hard fan of Transformers, you might be so impressed with the outcome but if you are new to the family, you might just have a good time.
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