This movie sucks, and I’m even saying that going by the crappy standard Michael Bay’s Transformers sequels have already set.
A standalone sequel to 2018’s Bumblebee but a prequel to 2007’s first live-action Transformers movie, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts follows a new set of human characters in electronics specialist Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) and ancient artifact expert Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback) as they come into contact with a certain set of robots in disguise and are pulled into an alien war that has been raging for centuries. Bringing Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and the newly introduced Maximals, led by Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman), together to take on the vicious threat that is Scourge (Peter Dinklage) and his Terrorcons, Prime and Primal must find a way to acquire an item called the Transwarp Key, a special artifact with the power to send our mechanized heroes back to their home planet of Cybertron. A task far easier said than done, it isn’t long before the Autobots, Maximals, and Terrorcons are at each other’s throats, with the survival of Earth hanging in the balance as well as the future of all Transformers!
I don’t know why the quality of this franchise suddenly dropped off a cliff in the time between the release of this movie and the surprisingly stellar refresh that was Bumblebee, but enough egregious things happen in this one that makes it hands down one of the worst sequels in a series already full of them. Unable to do anything of note with a narrative and set of characters that are as bland as they are rote in ways that I truly can’t comprehend, the missteps made in this movie are even more annoying considering how the much-hyped introduction of the Maximals did almost nothing to inject any kind of fresh energy into a film that at its base level, should be a mindless and fun trip into the Transformers Universe by default.
And though I do think most of this movie is utter trash, it can’t be denied how infinitely cool it is to see giant robots sock each other in the face up on the big screen in a shower of sparks and twisted metal. The action is most definitely nowhere near as consistent or exciting as it could have been (nor as fun to look at without Michael Bay’s “action porn” shooting style), but whenever Optimus and pals stop talking and start hitting, things get interesting enough that I can say I was at least entertained, becoming the only silver lining in a movie that’s more or less a waste of time.
Not only is this movie terrible, but when released after Bumblebee, which is arguably the best live-action Transformers film ever made, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts comes across as an uninspired, lazy, cringe, and downright misfire of a sequel that sets this entire franchise back a few steps. Robots fighting robots may never get old, but if this series doesn’t try a little harder to make something of substance, it might not even matter.