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Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

***
2023

‘…even in this kind of reduced, fun-sized edition, there still seems to be a significant audience for even these backstory history lessons from a big, flashy franchise that still manage to succeed by dint of uncalled-for excess…’

‘You got the touch!…You got the power!’ Yes, I’m earning my badge for having seen all of the live action Transformers movies to date, with the exception of the Judd Nelson/Orson Welles 1986 cartoon version, the one that features Stan Bush’s strident song of self-affirmation. It’s taking me a few days to fully digest the nuances of this mind-curdling cartoon, so in the interim, let’s cast a critical eye over Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, which is more concerned with showcasing a new selection of marketable toys than being a movie, but then again, that’s always been the Hasbro way. For those precious few who haven’t been following the Transformers timeline, Steven Caple Jr’s film gets by not being quite as mentally and physically gruelling a proposition as previous entries, but you’ll have to know your Optimus Primal from your Optimus Prime, so pay attention…

At their worst, the Transformers movies can feel as impenetrable as a Tarkovsky boxed set viewed by candlelight; I never through I’d recapture the eternal dark night of the soul that was sitting through Dark of the Moon, but The Last Knight brought it back like a vent from hell; how much stamina do today’s hardy children have for getting through these marathons? By comparison, the recent jolly, girlie reboot prequel Bumblebee, set back in the 80’s, was a surprisingly fun watch and rebooted the series in a far less overblown way, and the brisk Rise of the Beasts follows that example, right down to being set way, way back in 1994.

What was 1994 like? The hopes and dreams we shared during that time-period are skilfully evoked by news reports that ‘Marky Mark’ Wahlberg is leaving the Funky Bunch to pursue a career as an actor. Wahlberg’s rigorous exercise routine presumably prevented him from appearing here, so we get temporary stand-in upgrades with the personable Anthony Ramos as Noah Diaz an ex-military Brooklyn car-jacking family man with a heart of gold who gets lured into a museum heist that pairs him up with the equally personable Dominique Fishback as Elena Wallace. She’s an Ellis Island museum curator who gets to handle valuable artefacts including the Transwarp Key that’s been split into two that could potentially open a vortex in space and time that might just…

If the plot is the same old, with the very 2023 update of a Pete Davidson cameo, the details are presumably the hook to ensnare young viewers. If you thought you had the hang of the old Autobots vs Decepticons conflict, we’ve got new bewildering tech-talk to wrestle with in the form of the Terracons invading and Maximals on defence to prevent Unicron’s ultimate triumph. Sure, we’ve been to this kind of story well far too often, and much of Rise of the Beasts is the usual pulp. But the locations, moving from NYC freeway smash-ups to the most Peruvian hills that ever existed in the CGI artists’s head, look great and the action itself is remarkably clear for a franchise known for its bewildering car-advert dazzle that never misses any opportunity to enjoy the beauty of a sunset or sunrise, usually reflected in the helmet of an exploding Decepticon or something.

So the good news is there’s none of the usual sexist or racially questionable interludes, no more must-be-for-a-dare-or-money cameos from slumming Coen Brothers regulars or Anthony Hopkins, and just a whole lot less of the tiresome knock-down, drag-out war that’s been going on for nearly two decades now. It’s all about Bumblebee dropping from the sky to kick some robot butt to the sound of LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out. Even in this kind of reduced, fun-sized edition, there still seems to be a significant audience for even these backstory history lessons from a big, flashy franchise that still manage to succeed by dint of uncalled-for excess.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is out now everywhere.

Thanks to Paramount Pictures for advance big-screen access.

Comments

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  1. On an unrelated note. Eddie. do you use the wp reader to read posts? I ask because recently I’ve seen a random number on some of the posts in the feeds, right next to the “visit” button. It’s not clickable. It is new and I’m curious what it is supposed to represent. Just wondering if anyone else is seeing it too.

        • That’ll be how many people viewed it in the WP community, through the reader. In general, the amount of daily readers seems to be about a tenth of the number of followers you have. It accounts for less than ten percent of the daily readership of this website, the external traffic all comes via search engines or aggregators.

          But that 61 refers to the number of seconds you have to get out before your toaster begins emitting a noxious gas that will turn you into a gibbering, Monster-drink loving loon…61…60…59…

            • I think I saw Pete who comments on fraggle’s blog mention the 10 to 1 ratio before. I think it’s just WP trying to flog us their Blaze feature; they used to highlight posts, now they want you to pay to get them highlighted. Doesn’t change anything for me, does it for you?

                  • But this is a situation where I can’t avoid it. I don’t watch tv so I avoid ads. I use an adblocker on chrome so I don’t see ads online. I live in a small town so there aren’t bill boards every 10 feet.
                    But wp is my home online and it’s being invaded. And there’s nothing I can do.

                    • It’s just a swizz to get you to use something that’s free then ask you to pay for it. Boo!

    • Hey Booky, I can see the numbers, they’re next to the ‘visit’ button and have 3 little verticle lines next to them. Strangely yours is the only blog I can see that doesn’t have one!

      • Huh. Well, glad you can see them, means I’m not crazy. I could only see them on Eddie’s blog and mine this morning.
        So the bleeping wp code monkeys are screwing around w stuff then. Wonder what useless crap they’ll come up with and claim we asked for it. Sigh…

  2. you win!
    Now you have to jump out of a burning building, break a leg and exclaim how funny Chevy Chase getting eaten by robots is. Easy peasy…

  3. I think I win a prize for having seen fewer of these movies than any of you. Which is a prize in itself. Is Pete Davidson building a career now out of these appearances?

    Top form this morning with the dixpos! Are you still in your pyjamas?

    “I’m earing my badge,” “can as impenetrable,” “prevented him for appearing,” “the Transwarp Key key”

  4. Have seen 2 Transformer movies, way back when it was Shia le Beaufont and Meg wotserface’s fanny bending over a car, and another with Mark Whalberg. Both movies seemed to be made for teenage boys of little brainial capacity so I haven’t seen any more, and obviously will eschew this. Nope. Also this Pete Davidson you’re always banging on about, I had to google him in the end, a Kardashian ex boyfriend so it seems. Says it all really. Nope.

  5. I couldn’t bring myself to watch bumblebee, so I knew my days of schlepping through the mud with this franchise were done. I am just surprised that the movies keep on coming.

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