Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
By: Adam Freed
A metacognitive negotiation is required of audiences prior to sitting down to partake in a film like Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. Either one will allow themselves the latitude to enjoy a movie about talking animalian robots that punch, kick and shoot one another to pieces, or they won’t. The latter of whom need not read beyond this sentence. For everyone else that has the ability to understand that a drive thru window is not the proper place in search of Michelin Star cuisine, the newest Autobots adventure provides double cheeseburger levels of satisfaction.
An impressive line of decisions needed to fall into place in order to make a film this outwardly ridiculous work, and yet it seems that is exactly what the teams at Paramount Pictures and Hasbro have been able to accomplish. There is a joyful level of self awareness in Rise of the Beasts, most prominent of which is flaunted in the film’s willingness to wield a hall of fame level MacGuffin, rivaled only by Humphrey Bogart’s 1941 film noir classic The Maltese Falcon. What will entertain audiences with even a remote interest in film history, is that the object-based plot propulsion device in this case, is once again, the statue of a falcon, surely a wink far too pronounced to dismiss as irony. In alignment with this film’s level of comfort within its own skin, is the shameless and superb vocal casting of TMZ poster child Pete Davidson, who as Porsche 911 Carrera / humanoid robot Mirage, is written in perfect alignment with his comedic timing and vocal prowess.
What sets the newest iteration of Transformers apart from a surfable wave of inferior predecessors is its willingness to stick with what works. 2018’s prequel film Bumblebee found traction by resetting the franchise as a period piece set in 1987, aligning with the shockwave that Hasbro’s toy line was making at that time. Rise of the Beasts acts as a sequel to Bumblebee, set seven years in the future, landing audiences in 1994. Behold the greatest success of this film. For anyone old enough to have played with the original Transformers toy line, the nostalgia based world building of Brooklyn 1994 is a transportive joyride. The level of depth and detail that the film captures in costuming alone whimsically reminisces 3-peat era Jordans, the final days of Mets fever, and a time in which it seemed possible that Wu-Tang was indeed forever. All of this, and what is sure to be one of the most fun Spotify film playlists in years, have what could’ve been a disastrous film, humming before even reaching its second act.
In a few short months audiences will approach autumn, the season of Oscar, who coils with anticipation for the first leaves to change hue and for films and film criticism to take themselves painfully serious once again. Until then, may long days, warm nights, and blockbuster films reign supreme. In this season of leisure, movie goers should allow themselves the mindless joy of this tempting and hedonistic drive thru meal of a movie. It may not be packed with all of the proper nutrients, but proves to be deliciously satisfying.