The days of going to the movie theaters early in the afternoon on opening weekend have started to disintegrate and rise depending on the movie selections, but one movie that was supposed to be one of the biggest and best reasons to return to the recliners at the movie theaters is already on streaming services.
That movie is the latest entry into Michael Bay’s “Transformers” series, dating all the way back to 2007’s smash hit starring Shia LeBouf and Megan Fox. Nowadays the Transformers movies look a little similar, but each movie has starred a vastly different cast between big, metallic, robotic fight scenes.
This most previous film, “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts”, did well during it’s time in theaters, gaining over $61 million during it’s opening weekend in mid-June. Domestically, “Rise of the Beasts” gained over $156 million and officially grossed nearly $430 million worldwide. Now the film can be watched on Paramount+, which is where I was recently able to view it thanks to my newborn daughter figuring out her daytime nap schedule.
Bay has taken a backseat during these past few “Transformers” movies, allowing Steven Caple Jr. (“The Land”, “Creed II”) to take the helm of the 90s-based “Rise of the Beasts” adaptation. Back in the day, the Beasts Transformers, known as “Maximals”, were a huge pull on Saturday morning cartoons for kids of all ages but they had never been mentioned or shown in any of the Transformers movies until this one.
The audience is quickly introduced to the Maximals thousands of years ago, trying to protect the Timewarp Key from the likes of the mercenary transformer Scourge, voiced by Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”, “Avengers: Infinity War”, “I Care a Lot”). Scourge was sent by the planet-sized god named Unicron, a traveling Death-Star looking object that devours entire planets for fuel.
After the Maximals were able to distract Scourge with a bang-bang fight between Scourge and the gorilla-looking Maximal named Apelinq the Timewarp Key was shipped off-planet. Fast forward to the mid-90s Earth, where the events from the first six “Transformers” movies have not occurred yet, and we see former soldier Noah Diaz, played by Anthony Ramos (“In the Heights”, “Hamilton”, “A Star is Born”) desperately looking for a job to support his ill little brother and family.
Diaz, in an attempt to make some quick cash, tries to steal a one-of-one Porsche from a locked garage that ends up being the loudmouth Autobot named Mirage, voiced by Pete Davidson (“SNL”, “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies”, “Bupkis”). Mirage avoids police all by himself with Diaz in the front seat and drives him right into a meeting between Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and other Autobots that have been staying under the radar for seven years waiting for an opportunity to return home to Cybertron.
That opportunity has suddenly shown itself after the Timewarp Key was accidentally turned on by a museum worker named Elena Wallace, played by Dominique Fishback (“Judas and the Black Messiah”, “Project Power”, “Swarm”). After the two human elements of the movie team up with the Autobots they find out that the key is split in half and needing a second.
This starts off some of the best moments of the movies, like the rest of the “Transformers” franchise, where the product on screen is strictly CGI and it’s almost all entirely well-done. Optimus Prime meets up with the Maximals’ “Primal”, voiced by Ron Perlman (“Hellboy”, “Sons of Anarchy”, “Alien: Resurrection”), and they come up with a plan of attack all while Scourge steals the two halves of the Timewarp Key and kill a fan favorite on the Autobots’ team.
Both the main characters that aren’t made with visual effects vow to help save the planet which now has a wide open gateway for Unicron opening between the Earth and the moon. As one might imagine, especially since the entirety of the “Transformers” expanded universe takes place after the events in “Rise of the Beasts”, the Autobots find themselves victorious and are able to come to terms with living on Earth until another option comes around.
In the end, the biggest problem that many fans of the original “Transformers” movie and cartoon shows have with the newest entry into the Transformers universe is the lack of Maximals after almost a year of plastering their face on every trailer, poster and advertisement. All in all the two main Autobots, Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, take center stage alongside the newer Mirage character rather than showing the giant robot gorilla, giant robot cheetah and giant robot rhinoceros.
Also, the decision to make Mirage and Diaz join forces in a way that nobody has done in any other Transformers movie was very polarizing for many fans. That move either made longtime fans excited for what else could be added to the somewhat-stale movie series, or it made longtime fans scoff at the cop-out attempt that added to the silliness of the ending.
Plus, as usual, the smaller, less popular robots or henchmen for Scourge are easily defeated by simple attacks by humans and Autobots. With that said, the villains in every other Transformers movie seem to be one of two things: Megatron, the leader of the Decepticons, or the Decepticons in general. So having Scourge and the Terrorcons be the main bad guys was a nice change of pace from the Bay movies of the past.
Overall, this “Transformers” film stands alone from the continuity that the first six lined up and it gives longtime fans a sliver of something that could become more in the future, hopefully. Prime and Bumblebee being the main stars of the movie, along with some okay actors as the human element, make this more disappointing than anything.
Overall score: 3 / 5 Porsches