Get us in your inbox

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Photograph: Paramount Pictures

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

More ’bots, fewer humans equals one of the better Transformers movies

By this point you probably know if the Transformers series is for you. We’re now six films in (seven, if you count the Bumblebee spin-off) and this is not a franchise that ever seeks to reinvent the wheels. Each instalment twists and rearranges the same elements – a trinket that could destroy Earth; a silver baddy; a down-on-his-luck human; some vague allusion to ancient civilisation – and surrounds them with impressively animated bot-on-bot action. 

Rise of the Beasts is squarely tied to the same formula, but that turns out to be one of its assets. It gives the audience what they’re here for and nothing more. There’s none of the over-complication of the Michael Bay movies, which often featured far too much convoluted human plot and not enough smashing, and it doesn’t bloat its running time.

Beasts begins in the non-specific past with a group of animal Transformers, the Maximals, fleeing their home planet as it’s attacked by planet-devouring robot god Unicron and his henchman Scourge. They escape with the transwarp key, a device that would allow Unicron to travel through time and space, eating planets at will. After stashing it on Earth, Transformers’ favourite hiding spot, they disappear. Cut to 1994, where the key is found and accidentally activated by museum intern Elena (Dominique Fishback). That awakens the Maximals and the Autobots, who have picked up a new human friend, Noah (Anthony Ramos), and everyone embarks on a mission to prevent an apocalypse. 

By the series’ fairly low bar, this is one of the most enjoyable outings

Keeping the plot very simple is key to its modest success. There are no tangents and a very small human cast (both Ramos and Fishback are appealing leads), so you get plenty of robot war for your money, and isn’t that all anyone’s really paying for? New director Steve Caple Jr (Creed II) isn’t as slick an director as Michael Bay – it’s sometimes hard to orient yourself in his larger battles – but he’s efficient and can land some solid gags. It feels generally similar in tone to Bumblebee, by far the most fun Transformers movie. 

By the series’ fairly low bar, this is one of the most enjoyable outings. That’s not to say it’s worth a look if you’re a newcomer, but if you want a movie with lots of huge robots punching each other, that is what you will get. And this episode does have one twist under its hood, ending on a hint at a very silly future. After taking itself quite seriously for many years, a bit more silliness seems like the thing that could keep this series off the scrapheap a bit longer. 

In cinemas in the UK Jun 8 and US theaters Jun 9.

Olly Richards
Written by
Olly Richards

Cast and crew

  • Director:Steven Caple Jr.
  • Screenwriter:Josh Peters, Joby Harold, Erich Hoeber, Jon Hoeber, Darnell Metayer
  • Cast:
    • Pete Davidson
    • Ron Perlman
    • Michelle Yeoh
    • Peter Dinklage
    • Anthony Ramos
    • Dominique Fishback
You may also like
You may also like