Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is an Action-Packed Summer Blockbuster

Transformers: Rise of the Beast still of Mirage still of (Pete Davidson) walking beside Noah (Anthony Ramos).

Besides being an all-around good time, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts shows love to New York, particularly Brooklyn, with locations only some will remember from the 90s. Granted, former Transformers films of late inspire ridicule over praise, and when I heard claims this film delivers, I was skeptical yet hopeful. On Brooklyn love alone, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts gets recognition. But the soundtrack, fights, cast, and humor are outstanding. This is a good time, right in time to be a summer blockbuster! Written by Joby Harold, Darnell Metayer, and Josh Peters and directed by Steven Caple Jr., Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is summer fun worth watching.

The Autobots, led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), aren’t the only ones out there. An enemy that reminds me of the big bad in The Fifth Element is after the Maximals, robots shaped like animals instead of cars, for a particular relic. Soon enough, the battle winds up on Earth. Enter the people on the front lines of this epic war, Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) and Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback). Noah’s looking for a job to help support his mom, Deanna, (Luna Lauren Velez), and ill brother, Kris (Dean Scott Vazquez).

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Have Realistic Effects

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts still of Bumblebee and Maximal cheetor running beside them.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts still

Director Steven Caple Jr. should direct more for this franchise as this and the first Transformers are the only two that stand out. Unsurprising, given he skillfully directs action films, as he lent that skill to Creed II. He understands the days of jump cuts galore saturating fight sequences are gone. So the fights between opponents look realistic. I half expect to look out my window and see two giant robots battling.

Believable Cast With Brooklyn Love All Day

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts still of Noah (Anthony Ramos) and Elena (Dominique Fishback) staring offscreen.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts still.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts has the cutest bromance between Mirage (Pete Davidson) and Noah. Pete is superb as the oddball Mirage, with plenty of jokes but also hope. Both Noah and Elena’s experiences mirror folks of then and now. The judgment from being Hispanic or Black, or white bosses or co-workers taking credit for your work sticks with you. It’s a frustrating merry-go-round. Some of the dialogue doesn’t work, and one particular moment when Dominique Fishback’s Elena cries out dramatically falls flat. But there’s no denying Transformers: Rise of the Beasts surpasses the previous films.

When I heard them reference Wilson Avenue, all I thought was if that was around Knickerbocker, it’s a hop from the handball courts. So you watch while smiling at the familiarity. The areas they speak of were many I traipsed around then. It’s always fun to look at a film, point, and say, “I’ve been there.” Fantasy worlds are delightful, but when they have recognizable locations, it adds a texture of both reality and warmth.

Fire Soundtrack From A Fire Decade

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts still of Mirage (Pete Davidson).
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts still.

The soundtrack is a 90’s jam of what’s hot, but more. The music ties in with Brooklyn references; the soundtrack was like a who’s who of artists. Anyone in NYC will recall many of these songs as mainstays back then. Many more will still remember the lyrics to smooth hip hop with the jazzy flair of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Cool Like That” and the Shaolin inspiration in Wu-tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” Transformers: Rise of the Beasts taps that nostalgic joy with some of the best music from that decade.

The special effects are amazing. There’s never a moment where they falter to such a degree that you realize cars transforming into robots isn’t real. Disney, please do better with the effects of your live actions. While Bumblebee typically gets tons of love, Mirage has so much swag it’s impossible not to want him as a ride or die. Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback are a joy to watch, and Dean Scott Vazquez is sweet. With such an incredible cast, and a catchy blast from the past soundtrack, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts rises Autobot heads above its predecessors despite minor failings.

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